Contributions for WFP-FAO co-led Post 2015 Global Thematic Consultation on Hunger, Food Security and Nutrition

Ed Werna (PhD) ILO, Switzerland

on food security - from an urban labour perspective

The discussion on food security is very interesting and important. From the point-of-view of urban labour, I see two angles:

- First, the production side: how to combine improvements in food production and urban employment. This links to the discussion on urban agriculture. Food processing would also come into the picture. Proper training of workers and entrepreneurs and improvements in working conditions along the food value chain would add value to food production. And increase in food production creates jobs.

- Second, the consumption side: many urban workers are food insecure themselves. And this is not always or necessarily a case of lack of food availability in the cities where they live. Many cities have enough food supply, and still a number of workers cannot buy it, due to lack of income. This leads to policies to generate employment and/or social protection (cash transfers).

For information on the work of ILO's Sectoral Activities Dept. on food


Michael Appleby World Society for the Protection of Animals, United Kingdom

These comments are from the World Society for Protection of Animals.

Theme 1: Key lessons from the current MDG relevant to hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition, and challenges towards achieving food and nutrition security in coming years.

A major factor in the failure to prevent hunger and to achieve food and nutrition security to date has been the lack of coordination and balance between animal and plant food production on a local, national and international scale. Access to small quantities of animal protein is important for the nutrition of malnourished people. However, too often livestock production has been increased and intensified inappropriately, producing meat and milk only affordable by people of higher income, undercutting small scale farmers, and using resources inefficiently compared to food crops. The challenge is in achieving governance – for example by appropriate economic, policy and institutional support – to readdress this balance.

Theme 2: How to address hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition challenges, including drawing upon current initiatives.

To prevent hunger and to obtain food and nutrition security it is vital to achieve sustainability, which means the best balance possible between environmental, economic and social goals. Social goals include both proper food for all people – as emphasised in current initiatives such as the Zero Hunger Challenge – and proper care of livestock. As the FAO has identified, a billion of the world’s poorest people depend on animals for food, income, social status or cultural identification, as well as companionship and security. Furthermore, protection of farm animal welfare can identify benefits for environmental and economic, as well as social aspects of sustainability. The importance of protecting livestock and their environments was stressed by the Rio+20 outcome document:

111. We reaffirm the necessity to promote, enhance and support more sustainable agriculture, including crops [and] livestock ... We also recognize the need to maintain natural ecological processes that support food production systems.

112. We stress the need to enhance sustainable livestock production systems, including through improving pasture land … recognizing that the livelihoods of farmers including pastoralists and the health of livestock are intertwined.

The outcome document also made it clear that the Committee on World Food Security should play an important role in this respect by facilitating country-initiated, multi-stakeholder assessments on sustainable food production and food security. The urgency of an ecological approach was additionally underlined by another initiative, the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development.

Theme 3: Zero Hunger Challenge objectives.

a. 100% access to adequate food all year round

This requires management of both production and consumption, including increased consumption of animal products in some countries (and sectors of the population within countries) and decreased consumption in others.

b. Zero stunted children less than 2 years old

This will be helped by access to some food from animals for malnourished children lacking micronutrients. Current practices including intensification of livestock production are often aimed more at supplying (and profiting from) high-income populations and have hindered rather than helped nutrition of poorer populations, both rural and urban.

c. All food systems are sustainable

As outlined above, this requires an appropriate balance between animal and plant food production, combined with proper care for livestock health and welfare.

d. 100% increase in smallholder productivity and income

In some cases this needs economic support for smallholders, either direct (for example by providing advisory and support structures), or indirect (for example by protecting them from unfair competition from larger urban- or foreign-based companies). Means to effect such an increase could include the transfer of existing technologies from developed to developing countries, enhanced emphasis on developing high productivity technologies for smallholder use, and increased market access for smallholders. Furthermore, enhanced animal welfare will result in enhanced animal health and productivity.

e. Zero loss or waste of food.

Reduction of post-harvest waste is urgent. So too is reduction of inefficiency and waste in production processes. Such inefficiency and waste include feeding of poor-quality feed to livestock, and use of feed such as grain for animals that could instead be used directly for human food. Both practices often also cause problems for animal welfare.

Should some objectives be country-specific, or regional, rather than global?

Yes, it is important for more regions, countries and areas within countries to move towards food security and self-sufficiency. Areas vary in their suitability for different aspects of farming (including livestock vs. crops), but developing local food policies and supporting local producers is important for long-term security, stability and sustainability – including for socially acceptable, humane, sustainable livestock production.


Claudio Schuftan PHM, Viet Nam

V. Qs on shaping global consensus for the goals:


23. How can we build and sustain global consensus for a new framework, involving member states, the private sector and civil society?


Global consensus has to be built from the bottom up, i.e., starting from the sub-national level up. This is why this consultation period up to 2015 is so crucially in need to go to the level of claim holders and duty bearers at district level. (Keep in mind that duty bearers to claim holders in the community are, in turn, claim holders to duty bearers at the national, often ministerial, level….and those, in turn, claim holders to duty bearers in the international context, i.e., there is a chain of oppressed oppressors). Thinking loud: Can a worldwide 1-2 weeks period of national debate be agreed upon and set sometime in 2014? Can we then imagine a global process of some kind of formal ratification of the new framework by parliaments, social movements, CSOs, private sector without conflicts of interest (?) and governments the world over?

Sustaining the consensus will depend on progress being made. Annual benchmarks can give us year-to-year reports of progress as perceived by representatives of the wider society. This national annual taking of stock has the additional advantage of giving the new framework flexibility to change tactics within the same strategy (…or change strategy if needed).


24. How can our work be made coherent with the process to be established by the intergovernmental Open Working Group on the Sustainable Development Goals?


All efforts have to be made to secure such a coherence. Moreover, in all issues pertaining the SDGs and pertaining to this post-2015 framework the principle of one country one vote is non-negotiable in all instances when such consultations are deemed necessary. We all are born to live in this planet as equals. [I see no problem in isolating the rich countries often voting in block against the poor countries and thus formally obstructing this or any coherence. They are already doing so! So what is left for the poor countries is to continue blaming and shaming them, remotely hoping for a future break through. In the meantime, as much as possible, the poor countries ought to act on issues as per their majority vote].


Having come to the end of this reflection, I know I have opened only a small additional window that adds to the equally important contributions of many many others. I am afraid I have often been normative (and even possibly wrong). There are too many shoulds and woulds in my comments.

The risk we face is coming up with a more radical new framework than the MDGs framework was only to see it watered down by the powers that be --as has always been the case in end negotiations.

I ask you: Why has consensus always to be pulled to the side of those who feel they have something to loose in this pathetically unequal and unfair world?


On some more general issues, I seek advice on six further points:


Is there a way we can get away from the use of the maligned term ‘stakeholder’? Stakeholders stake claims, right? The simple replacement of the word stakeholders by claim-holders or duty bearers, as appropriate (to use the correct HR parlance that we and the UN are finally trying to instill in post-2015), just might provide us with the hint of the sort of framework we are interested in fostering in the new era. Claim holder/duty bearer are in the original UN language. Stakeholders is originally business language. To have or to hold a stake in something is the same as having an interest or holding shares!!! (A. Katz)


The MDGs have shown us that a focus on outcomes does not assure sustainability of the respective goal being kept up. It is not only the quantity and the quality of outcomes that counts; it is the participatory processes to achieve them that will matter in the long run. (Note that here sustainability is used in a different sense than in the environmental connotation of the term).


There are still too many among us that consider HR and equity, gender…as crosscutting issues; they are not. They are core issues (!) and we have to build sectoral or other interventions around them.


I also feel strongly that instead of talking about safety nets, we ought to be talking about social protection mechanisms. Universal social protection is the new political and cultural horizon where health rights must be placed. It includes social security, social assistance, labor rights, the right to public services and environmental rights (F.Mestrum). Social protection is the fundamental measure to pursue redistribution of wealth. Safety nets take the issue of poverty as a fait accompli. So since ‘they’ are poor, we throw them a few crumbles of bread since it is morally reprehensible to us to let them starve. In reality, safety nets somehow come up with measures that avoid social discontent that could flare up into protests and thus a challenge to the status-quo. Or put another way: Safety nets are nothing but a way to manage poverty and ‘ill-being’ (as opposed to well-being) by attenuating social unrest. Am I very wrong?


Moreover, providing accessible and affordable basic needs to the poor closely relates to what I say above. It just, in a way, replaces safety nets by targeting the poor (note the use of ‘the poor’ in High Level Panel papers; should it not be ‘poor people’? We have to be careful with depersonalizing the billions of  the affected people). [I want to caution you that the same is true for when programs and projects speak of ‘targeting the poor’].


Finally, is it true that nutrition, health, education, housing, clean water and sanitation will eventually cut the vicious circle of poverty? I thought the inter-generational vicious circle of poverty could only be uprooted for good with structural changes in the political and economic system that rules most of the world and actually perpetuates the problem.  Am I very wrong?

Vahid Maharramov Economic Research Center, Azerbaijan

Dear all,


It is great pleasure to contribute at least something to announced topics by FAO. On behalf of Economic Research Center ( Azerbaijan) i would like to draw your attention below message: 


Azerbaijan is the country that possesses fertile soil, humid climate, including sound financial, labor and other resources. The current resources of this country allow Azerbaijan to produce 3 times more agricultural products. Nevertheless, the country failed to show off its potential in last 15 years and given this loses its production strength as well. Thus, in 1997 the grain fields were around 610 - 650 thousand hectare and at that time Azerbaijan was able to import from 167 thousand ton up to420 thousand ton grain. Despite the fact that grain fields grew by 967 thousand hectare in 2011, the volume of imported wheat increased 3,5 times and reaching 1 million 400 thousand tons along imported wheat flour. In a nutshell, Azerbaijan is becoming dependent heavily on import.


Azerbaijan currently is obtaining easy flow of funds thanks to revenues emanating from oil and gas export and it can build sound investment policy over its non-oil sector, particularly production of agricultural products. However, it failed to do so and instead it is directing these funds to non-profitable sectors.


Azerbaijan which is in potentila of exporting food to world countries is in need of food. Another problem is related to the loss of production. The lack of warehouses and manufacturing facilities triggeres damage of fruit-vegetables in the fields or making as garbages.


According to our observations, the degradation process of soil has accelerated in recent years and it arranges 47 % of overall soil fields. Therefore, this rings alarm for future that there might be shortage or similar issues regarding food supply in the country.




  1. FAO should build broad information base through identifying the production potential of agricultural outputs of all countriesby involving experts to this process.
  2.  FAO should raise the issue on supplying demands for foods, agricultural products through complete internal production of countries that possess fertile soil, labor, financial, water resources. Given this, FAO should invite governments to act responsibly by submitting recommendations and proposals to them.
  3. FAO should raise issue regarding food security before world countries and unleash initiative on providing support to less-fertile countries via countries who have broad potential in this field. FAO can especially focus on patronizing children up to 5 years old. 




ERC expert on agrarian policy

A Nielsen New Zealand

It was clear from the outset that the goals of the MDG framework are interconnected and each one of them cannot be achieved without also addressing other areas. This is important to keep in mind as we look forward beyond 2015. Addressing food security and nutrition requires addressing areas such as inequalities, population dynamics, conflicts and governance. Vulnerable groups are those most affected by food insecurity, and women in particular tend to bear the burden of sourcing food and ensuring their families are adequately nourished, often forcing them into dangerous situations to do so. Vulnerable groups must be included in strategies and programmes aimed at improving access to food and nutrition to ensure they do not face additional barriers and can enjoy equal access to food and nutrition sources.


It is of utmost importance for their health that children under 5 and pregnant women are well-nourished, yet malnourishment among these groups is widespread throughout the developing world. Targeting these groups to improve their nutritional status should be paramount.

Ensuring investments are made in sexual and reproductive health and rights can have a positive impact on food security and nutrition. When women and couples are able to choose the number, timing and spacing of their children they can plan their families, and will often choose to have smaller families. Smaller families means fewer mouths to feed and a greater chance of children being well-nourished.

Sonja Vermeulen CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food ...

Theme 1:

What do you see as the key lessons learned during the current Millennium Development Goals (MDG) Framework (1990-2015), in particular in relation to the MDGs of relevance to hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition?


One of the key lessons is a positive one – the MDGs have demonstrated that it IS possible to achieve large-scale and long-lasting reductions in poverty and gender inequality (as measured by enrolment of girls in schools).  What we can learn from this for the post-2015 agenda is that we should again be highly ambitious in our goals for future human and planetary well-being.



Theme 2: 

What works best? Drawing on existing knowledge, please tell us how we should go about addressing the hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition challenges head on. 
Provide us with your own experiences and insights.  For example, how important are questions of improved governance, rights-based approaches, accountability and political commitment in achieving food and nutrition security? 


On behalf of the Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) of the CGIAR (Consortium of International Agricultural Research Centers), I wish to draw particular attention to the importance of seriously investing in environmental sustainability and food chain efficiencies if we are to feed ourselves in the long-run.  With the Global Donor Platform on Rural Development, CCAFS co-funded the independent Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change during 2011-2012.  The Commissioners brought scientific evidence together to argue that we need to bring action on three fronts together if we are to achieve universal food security in future: (1) increasing yields per unit of land and other inputs in ways that deal with increasing climate variability and climatic trends (for example via genetics, careful matching of crops and environments, very precise management of nutrients, innovative use of downscaled climatic forecasting), (2) reducing emissions of greenhouse gases from agriculture (many of the strategies are synergistic with the strategies for yield increases and adaptation) and (3) reducing inefficiencies in food supply chains (particularly by shifting towards healthier lower-emissions diets, reducing losses of food due to poor post-harvest storage or wasteful household food management, and improving distribution and affordability for people vulnerable to malnutrition).  Readers interested in the Commission’s findings (including many detailed sub-recommendations) can download the report at - where there is also a 6-minute video that synthesizes the arguments very clearly. 


Sets of aspirational recommendations can sound vague or impossible.  But around the world we now have many success stories: examples in which interventions have been brought to scale that increase availability of food to poor consumers while also reducing environmental impacts, particularly greenhouse gas emissions.  Substantial learning on successes (and pitfalls) has been shared (and can be found) via international platforms such as Africa Adapt ( and CDKN (, as well as sector-specific initiatives like the Climate-Smart Agriculture Partnership ( – as well as many regional, national and sub-national learning platforms.  While there have been some efforts to collate globally promising technologies and institutional arrangements (e.g. ), or to draw generalized lessons from large-scale success stories (e.g. ), the reality is that climate change is experienced locally and must largely be addressed locally (for adaptation; mitigation is more global in scope).  What the global level most needs to do is to provide the kinds of governance and learning frameworks that enable local-level resilience and creativity.  This means investment both in very general development needs (e.g. free, universal, high-quality, compulsory education, or fair universal tax systems) and in very specific climate-related needs (e.g. scientific research that brings us to the stage that we can make climate forecasts that are downscaled sufficiently in time and space to be directly useful to individual farmers and local policy makers). 


Theme 3:

For the Post-2015 Global Development Framework to be complete, global (and regional or national) objectives, targets and indicators will be identified towards tackling hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition.  A set of objectives has been put forward by the UN Secretary-General under Zero Hunger Challenge (ZHC):

a.    100% access to adequate food all year round
b.    Zero stunted children less than 2 years old
c.    All food systems are sustainable
d.    100% increase in smallholder productivity and income
e.    Zero loss or waste of food.

Please provide us with your feedback on the above list of objectives – or provide your own proposals.  Should some objectives be country-specific, or regional, rather than global? Should the objectives be time-bound?



These objectives are highly appropriate in terms of (a) simplicity and (b) level of ambition.  Additionally the focus on smallholders is appropriate due to their continuing major role in the nutrition and livelihoods of both rural and urban consumers.  On the other hand the objectives lack (a) a tangible definition of sustainability (and hence an explicit objective for managing our natural environment) and (b) a clear goal for nutrition security as opposed to food security.  The post-2015 Global Development Framework could certainly use the ZHC objectives (and thus contribute to this critically important agenda) but perhaps build in explicit objectives on environment and on nutrition.  Given the huge variation around the world in climate change impacts, water scarcity (and soils, biodiversity and other key environmental factors), level of dependence of livelihoods on agriculture, provision of social services and safety nets, and the burden of nutrition-related diseases (e.g. stunting, obesity, diabetes, micro-nutrient deficiencies), perhaps the over-arching objectives should be global but the targets country-specific (or even specific to particular places or social groups within a country).  Targets should certainly be time-bound.  In doing so, they keep abreast of the rapid pace of change in climate, demographics, economics and geo-politics – and acknowledge that development is never “done”.  It is not an admission of failure to accept that the set of objectives and aspirations under design now will be followed by yet another (iterative) set in a couple of decades.

Faustine Wabwire Bread for the World Institute, United States of America

Theme 1: Key Lessons From the MDGs


The MDGs have demonstrated that goal-setting matters for development. Since 2000, the MDGs have galvanized support around the world for ending hunger and extreme poverty. When the goals were launched, countries pledged to work together to cut global hunger and poverty in half by 2015. Also, unlike many global initiatives that came before it, the MDGs remain a  prominent concern of national governments and the international development community. This is due in no small part to the fact that the goals have concrete targets to measure progress and hold government leaders accountable.

Global poverty is now falling with unprecedented speed, and indeed it is possible to imagine a world by 2040 where chronic hunger and poverty no longer exist. According to the World Bank, the percentage of people living below the international poverty line ($1.25 per person per day) has fallen by more than half since 1990; in other words, the MDG target of cutting income poverty in half by 2015 has been reached.
At this point, however, it is not clear whether the hunger target of the MDGs—cutting hunger in half— will be met by the 2015 deadline.The lagging progress on hunger, compared to progress on poverty, illustrates a problem with how the MDGs are being pursued. Too little attention has been paid to the interrelationship between hunger and poverty, particularly in rural areas where most of the world’s hungry and poor people live. In order to sync reductions in hunger with reductions in poverty, greater investments in agriculture are necessary and must be targeted at smallholder farmers.


Theme 2: What works best?

Focus on Marginalized Groups: The goal to end hunger mostly depends on the commitment of political leaders to scale up proven approaches and target the most difficult to reach groups. Leaders will have to address the structural inequalities that deny certain groups of people access to social and economic opportunities. These are predominantly racial, ethnic and religious minority groups. Women and girls face additional barriers—including in majority groups. Accelerating progress against hunger therefore requires a more deliberate focus on women and girls.

Strengthen Data Systems: Effective policy responses depend on reliable information about how various groups are faring. Countries where hunger and poverty are stubbornly persistent have a limited capacity to collect and analyze data. Strengthening data systems needs to be a priority of leaders in countries affected by hunger and their development partners.

Increase Investments in agriculture: Improvements in food security and nutrition are linked to a productive agricultural sector. Common sense might suggest that we need to make sure that domestic food supplies match demand for food—but that’s not the core of the problem. The recent increases in hunger were because of the high food prices, not because there wasn’t enough food to go around. Although grain stocks were low, they were not too low to feed everyone if some nations with surpluses hadn’t panicked and banned exports. In the same vein, famines have occurred in countries where some parts actually have food surpluses. The unprecedented rise in hunger recently was a consequence of the high costs. Despite incontrovertible evidence that food security is linked to agricultural productivity, over the past three decades donors slashed agriculture as a share of their development budgets. Agriculture is a key driver of economic growth in poor countries. In very poor countries, agriculture provides more than 70-80 percent of the labor force with the greatest share of their incomes. When the agricultural sector is growing, so are people’s incomes. It’s what determines whether they are eating only a bowl of rice seven days a week or they can occasionally afford to add some meat and vegetables to their diet.

Strengthen social protection programs to reach the most marginalized. Scaling up investments in the nutrition of rural women and girls is central to their economic empowerment. Putting in place safety nets for the most vulnerable rural women and girls, such as activities that promote access to health care and education, lays the groundwork for a healthy society.

  • Lift the importance of maternal and child nutrition
  • Remove barriers faced by rural women and girls


Theme 3: Post-2015 Framework

Bread for the World emphasizes that whatever agreement emerges must include a bull’s-eye target: ending hunger and extreme poverty by 2040. Every country should agree to set national development goals, including the high-income nations.

  • A post-2015 agreement should establish a framework in which each country sets ambitious goals that properly reflect its level of social and economic development. This framework should make it clear that poverty and hunger are morally unacceptable everywhere.

The post-2015 global development framework should be worked out by a broader set of stakeholders than those who developed the MDGs. The MDGs were conceived by rich nations with far too little input from poor and middle-income nations.

  • The views of poor and hungry people themselves on the fight against hunger and poverty should be strongly considered in any new agreement. This is likely to reshape development goals from their formulation in the MDGs and focus greater attention on the means of achieving the goals. For example, a target of MDG 1 was to “Achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all, including women and young people”; and when poor people, particularly young poor people, are asked about the barriers they face to getting out of poverty, they nearly always name lack of jobs as their top concern. But the issue of jobs and job creation has not been given the attention it deserves from policymakers and donor agencies.
Elin Weyler Stockholm International Water Institute, Sweden

Input for from Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) to the e-consultation on Hunger, Food and Nutrition

Hunger, Food and Nutrition are prerequisites for people’s livelihoods, sustaining life, and prosperity. A child that goes hungry will not assimilate knowledge, will not thrive as a human or become a contributing member of whichever society it belongs to. However, a child that is thirsty will not even feel hunger because thirst is a more urgent need. A child that feeds will stay hungry if it is plagued by diarrhoea, cholera or other infectious diseases that could be prevented by access to safe water and sanitation.

The same way that arable land and seeds are a prerequisite for food production, so is water. The water distribution across the globe in changing due to climate change, irrigation schemes, energy demands and crop choices. In order to feed a growing population we will have to consider water in whichever targets we set. The causes behind food insecurity may be assessed by looking at the three A’s:

  • Availability; production of food and its physical availability in various places – mediated by weather & climate, land use / agricultural methods, transport and storage infrastructure
  • Access, including how households and individuals are able to get hold of food – mediated by poverty, education, and cultural/social power to command resources
  • Absorption, including the ability to absorb food – mediated by health conditions, in turn mediated by water, sanitation and hygiene conditions.

As organisers of the World Water Week, SIWI, Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) and the Consortium of International Agricultural Research Centers (CGIAR) as key collaborating partners, focused on Water and Food Security as overarching theme for the 2012 conference. Over 2500 water experts, attended over 200 sessions organized by over 250 convening international organizations to discuss the precarious challenge of feeding a thirsty world. The conclusions from each session and workshop are found on For the format of this discussion, let us here present some of the main overarching conclusions that address the questions in the scope. The full report from the 2012 World Water Week is available here:


Theme 1


Setting new priorities for a water and food secure world

Over the past half-century, dramatic improvements have been made to increase the quantities of food produced. Today, we feed more people than ever before, but we also leave more people hungry and send more food to waste than any time before in our history. Moving forward, focus must be on resource efficiency, effective distribution to the hungry and sustainable stewardship of water, land, and lifesupporting ecosystems. Large scale investments in agricultural research and development, infrastructure, irrigation and supply chain efficiency improvements, coupled with dramatic reductions in losses in the field and consumer waste will yield major returns. Providing farmers with better access to markets, both locally and internationally, is likewise crucial to support smallholders’ livelihoods and ensure the food they grow is beneficially used.

This will require a radical shift towards a smarter, healthier, more rational and sustainable global food system. There are many barriers that can delay action, such as a potentially unfavourable political economy, vested interests and bureaucratic inertia, which must be overcome. But the challenges faced to feed an increasingly thirsty world are outmatched by the opportunities they present to stimulate economic growth and provide for a healthier population. With commitment to coordinated action taken on a number of fronts, we can ensure that water will not be a limitation for future well-being on our planet and that everyone has access to clean water and sufficient nutrition to enjoy a sustainable diet.

Water and food security are inseparable

Land and water are prerequisites for agriculture and farmers are the main custodians of the world’s freshwater. Roughly 70 per cent of global freshwater withdrawals are used in agriculture. There are several areas where major efficiency gains, in terms of water,  energy, human as well as financial resources, can be made, such as producing ‘more crop per drop’, reducing losses and waste in the food supply chain, diversification of agricultural activities and employing a ‘landscape approach’ to development in order to expand food production and maintain ecosystem services. There are a number of other areas for which the convening experts called for increased attention: investment and policy intervention, including the promotion of healthy and sustainable diets, improved early warning systems to agricultural emergencies, wiser and fairer trade regulation, and coordinated approaches to assess trade-offs and maximise synergies between water, energy and food.

Producing more with less

Sustainable intensification of agriculture is critical to meet present and future food demand and will require effective action across a number of strategic areas such as energy efficiency, improving irrigation productivity and expanding the safe re-use of water and nutrient resources.

Investing big in small-holders

There is a huge untapped potential for increasing both the productivity and water efficiency of smallholder agriculture. To realise this potential, it is critical to understand the realities faced by many farming communities that lead to sub-optimal use of resources, as well as high rates of losses.

Fixing the leaks in the food supply chain

FAO estimates that 1.3 billion tonnes of food goes uneaten each year, with significant variation in the levels of losses and waste between seasons, years and between commodities and regions. Investments in improved harvesting, storage, transport and cooling infrastructure can reduce losses significantly. This, coupled with local producers’ increased access to better food processing, packaging and new markets, means that more food will be sold and less lost, providing economic and social benefits to both producer and consumer. The world is hungry because we are wasting food.

Improving early warning and responding to a more turbulent climate

Building resilience to drought, floods and shifts in rainfall through adaptive planning is a critical need for the short, medium and long term. New approaches to develop climate smart agriculture and improve the “hydroliteracy” of rural communities can help poor farmers better withstand the shocks of a more variable climate. These systems also need to be accompanied mechanisms to act quickly to take preemptive action based upon available data.

Safeguarding ecosystems while expanding agriculture

A bundled view of ecosystem services can help optimise strategies to promote food security and ecosystem health. To work at a landscape level, new mechanisms are needed that can engage a broader range of stakeholders in negotiations around the benefits- and cost-sharing of ecosystem services, starting by increasing land-user knowledge of ecosystem processes.

Promoting fair and effective food trade

Food trade is a rational and necessary mechanism for achieving efficient use and better sharing of global water resources as well as socio-economic progress. Increased trade in agricultural commodities can provide opportunities for smallholder farmers but this requires they gain better access to markets and stronger bargaining power within them. This can be facilitated through modern information technology, effective government regulation and access to know-how and appropriate production technologies.

A call for collaboration

The challenges that our world is facing cannot be solved by isolated silo thinking and sectoral sub optimisations. Water plays key roles in agriculture, health, economic development, urbanisation, energy production, international affairs and the fulfilment of human rights.

Land acquisition

Investment in agricultural land by international actors has increased dramatically in recent years, primarily in Africa and Latin America. Investors will need reliable access to water for irrigation of its crops on the purchased or leased land. More attention, besides better safeguarding of local priorities and customary rights to land of indigenous populations, is also needed to ensure the effective and equitable management of both internal and transboundary water resources that will be used on leased lands.


Theme 2


The Sustainable Development Goals must address both process and outcomes by emphasizing equitable, transparent processes (participatory, integrative management) as  well as clear goals and measurable targets in terms human and ecological well-being (sustenance of aquatic ecosystems, energy production, and food security). Along with the increased focus on Public Private Partnerships, there is also the recognition of the importance of standard development to guide corporate water stewardship and allow comparison and communication across sectors.

Renewed national and international investments

As we move from the Millenium Development Goals to new Sustainable Development Goals there is a need for renewed national and international investment in the water and WASH sectors. The Millenium Development Goals have been enormously successful in uniting donor attention and allowing the development community to join forces in meet major global challenges. This suggests that uniting behind a list of concrete targets can have dramatic impacts. There is a continued need to prioritise water investments.

Recognising the real purpose of water use

In the agricultural context this can be measured a variety of ways from the amount of food produced per unit of water (crop per drop), to the economic value of agricultural production per unit of water, to the nutritional value of agricultural production per unit of water.

Supply chain focus

As much as half of the produced in the field is lost or wasted before and after it reaches the consumer. Increasing productivity means developing governance approaches that decrease both pre- and post-harvest losses and increase water productivity.

Defining good governance

In terms of next actions, an important point regards developing a common definition of ‘good governance’. To achieve better governance we need two critical components: 1) Better data and knowledge procurement, sharing, and use; and 2) Involvement of major actors like public sector, private sector, and donor communities.

Innovations strengthen monitoring

Monitoring the results of water governance interventions can be used to improve accountability and will enhance the projects implementation. More effective methods of stakeholder engagement can be done using recent technology in collecting and sharing data. For example, text messaging and crowd-sourcing offer new ways to democratise data collection and spatially-explicit databases and internet portals.

Create incentives to produce more food on existing agricultural lands, and within existing water use

There is potential in improving health, reduce water use and alleviate pressures on the environment by focusing more on nutrition sensitive diets. We are facing dietary challenges in opposing trends in different parts of the world; obesity in some regions and malnutrition in others. Currently 45 per cent of global crop water use goes to animal feed. Inland fisheries and aquaculture are two other vital protein sources for many of the worlds’ poor, particularly when crop fails.

Invest in small-holder agricultural water management to reduce malnutrition/hunger

Small-scale water management technology projects have often been overlooked by investors, although investment costs normally are low while profit margins tend to be relatively high. New business models (e.g. irrigation service providers), investment tools (e.g. the investment visualiser) and specialised insurance products were cited as useful contributions to this trend. Apart from the economic benefits, investments in small-holder agricultural water management also hold substantial benefits for food security. Being able to grow cash crops in the dry season, not only drastically improves the farmers´ economic possibility to buy better food, but it also contributes to a diversified diet. Small-scale agricultural water management thus must be controlled at some level to avoid environmental as well as human health damages. For a future nutrition-sensitive agriculture production to take form it is also essential that wastewater is treated safely and then re-used in the farms. 

Intersection between sub-topics and the benefits or synergies that cross-fertilization can bring to the water sector

The link between WASH and nutrition emerged on several occasions, primarily through a more refined understanding of the connections between WASH, malnutrition and diarrhea; the developing understanding of environmental enteropathy and its growing prevalence amongst the most vulnerable members of a community.

There is a need for a balance of technical, institutional and governance improvements; one without the other will delay progress in meeting development goals and perpetuate business as usual practices. A recommendation is to reach lower levels: to conduct regional dialogues that can lead to improved understanding and deliver more sustainable outcomes.

Feedback on the Global Strategic Framework for Food Security and Nutrition

The consideration of water in the Global Strategic Framework for Food Security and Nutrition, as part of economic and production issues, demographic and social issues are important. Recognition of the right to water is imperative and consideration taken to indigenous peoples. One aspect that might have to be considered in addition is that water will cross borders when land will not. Safe water and sanitation and its importance for nutrition is addressed. The role of water is considered for a sustainable agricultural production and we encourage the framework to expand on the issue under point VI. c) that “the demand for water for agricultural production and for other uses and ways of improving water management”.


Theme 3


Working towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

The aggregation of the dialogue at the World Water Week on this issue centered on the need for higher resolution in the revised goals, targets and indicators with respect to equity and non-discrimination. How can the political objectives of these goals be aligned with our need to promote stronger pro-poor investments by government? The water world is addressing this directly through an increasing focus on wealth quintile analysis of WASH coverage and an explicit emphasis on measuring the impact on the poorest in the proposed SDGs targets.

The world in 2050

The young generation of water professionals formulated the most pressing challenges and most promising solutions related to water and food security by 2050 during the World Water Week in Stockholm. A Core Team engaged with other young professionals who attended the conference and through video-interviews and social media inputs from those following the conference remotely, in order to formulate the vision which will be followed by an action plan during 2013.

This vision, although ambitious, is one they think should lead development efforts by stakeholders pertaining to water and food. The young vision has a good message for formulating SDG’s in recognizing that the only way to achieve an ‘ideal world’ is by being adaptive. This means that developing solutions, strategies and approaches, needs to be continuously checked and modified to respond to changing conditions. This is because they see that the only certain thing about the future is uncertainty.

Looking forward to the continued disucssion.


Stockholm International Water Institute and the World Water Week.

Paul Sommers California State University, Fresno, United States of America


As someone, who is both an agriculturists and nutritionists, and who has worked on agriculture and nutrition linkages for more than 30 years primarily at field implementation level, my approach has been to put nutrition at the center as the driver for agricultural activities.  As an agriculturalists, I am ready to use the tools in my resource kit to respond to demand and increase productivity of crops and or livestock. So nutrition has to take the lead and growers will then follow. Nutrition needs to identify the dietary gaps, especially micronutrient malnutrition, when the deficiencies occur, as well as locally grown and consumed crops that are nutrient dense in the micronutrients missing in the diet. Nutrition staff  also need to work with communication specialists to design an effective behavioral change strategy so that demand for those foods are created. Once the dietary issues and crops are known and a market demand plan is in place then I can use the tools  in my agriculture  kit to work with small holder growers to  increase on-farm availability for direct consumption as well as  local market access of those crops.

The policy implications of this strategy are clear. Countries are quickly adopting the market based value chain approach as a main means of improving small holder food security.  By viewing specific dietary deficiencies as drivers for new or expanding markets, the agricultural value chain approach takes on a whole new meaning where it not only grows incomes but addresses a very real and specific dietary issue in a specific location.

FAO Gouvernance Study Group (Astrid Agostini, Dubravka Bojic, Juan GarciaCebolla, Carol Djeddah, Florence Egal, Nicole Franz, Rebecca Metzner, Jamie Morisson, Jonathan Reeves, Mike Robson, Margret Vidar, Rolf Willmann)


This is a collective contribution from a number of members of the FAO Gouvernance Study Team responding in particular to:

Theme 2. What works best? Drawing on existing knowledge, please tell us how we should go about addressing the hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition challenges head on. Provide us with your own experiences and insights. For example, how important are questions of improved governance, rights-based approaches, accountability and political commitment achieving food and nutrition security?”


Many participants in the e-consultation underlined the importance of civil society participation and ownership, accountability of institutions, as well as of the coordination of policies, institutions and actions. These aspects relate to different dimensions of improved governance. Indeed, from the perspective of food and nutrition security, livelihoods and sustainable natural resource management, improved governance is critical for multiple reasons and notably:


First, the increasing complexity of development-related processes.

At the global level, factors beyond national control can affect efforts to reduce hunger and malnutrition; these include energy supply (and price), global commodity markets, and trade policies. Whether a given country is member of WTO or not, and whether it has ratified relevant international instruments – in human rights, agricultural, trade, natural resources or environmental fields – can and often do have implications for a range of food, production and  natural resources management policy and legal frameworks. So too will a country’s capacity to negotiate within international fora and to implement relevant international commitments.

At the global as well as at the country level, recent years have seen a growing plurality of actors (with many new, more active and more diverse stakeholders and interests, and more visible divergences in power between interest groups) with an interest in food security. This can make inclusive processes difficult to manage effectively. At the national level, there is also an increasing awareness of the interconnectedness between the environment, social and economic spheres.  Development goals can be achieved but it has become apparent that for progress to be sustained requires unprecedented levels of interdisciplinary collaboration across sectors and  institutions, and between actors.


Second, increasing uncertainty surrounds the potential impact of climate change (with the likelihood of increased resource competition and risk of conflict), and the level of willingness of key stakeholders with vested interests in current systems to engage in reform.  This makes more difficult the design and implementation of efficient and effective interventions in situations where asymmetries in information are the norm.


Third - for the majority of people, their most direct experience of “governance” is at local level through interaction with local extension agents, local agro-dealers, forest guards, fisheries officers, public health services, agricultural, social and education services. Even the best designed natural resource, social and economic policies will be ineffective in the absence of effective systems for service delivery, regulation, control of corruption and protection of rights. Inequalities in access to natural resources (rights to access land or water resources) and/or to inputs and services such as seeds, fertilizers or credit strongly limit agricultural productivity. Lack of transparency and information about Social Protection programmes, lack of awareness among possible beneficiaries, and wide “administrative discretion” lead to the failure of such programmes to reach many of those in greatest need.

While there is not a direct correlation between the two issues, it can be observed that many states with low food and nutrition security lack the capacity to create enabling and coherent policy and legal framework, be transparent and accountable to relevant stakeholders, and to enforce the rule of law and encourage gender equality.  This is often accompanied by a lack of capacity and of opportunity, for the people, to take an active part in decision-making processes and hold governments to account.

By contrast, when governance structures, both formal and informal, exercise their functions in an accountable, transparent and equitable manner, and give voice to a wide range of diverse interests, including those of the food insecure and hungry who are often excluded and marginalised, the resulting activities should contribute more fully to improving food and nutrition security in a country.


Setting the “building blocks” of the governance of food and nutrition security

Looking at hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition issues from a governance perspective offers insights and information that can improve the design of policies, programmes and projects, and provide tools to make their implementation and enforcement more effective.

While there is not, as yet, a universally agreed definition of governance, it is generally accepted that governance refers to the formal and informal rules and processes through which public and private stakeholders articulate their interests and decisions are made, implemented and sustained in different jurisdictions and levels. Taking a governance perspective requires decision-making processes affecting food and nutrition security, livelihoods and the management and sustainable use of natural resources to be in line with a number of key principles.

They are:

Participation – that people and their institutions are able to participate freely, fully, actively and meaningfully in the planning, design, monitoring and evaluation of decisions affecting them;

Accountability – that leaders are answerable within their organizations and to the people they serve, for their actions;

Transparency – that decision-makers are as open as possible about all the decisions and actions that they take and that timely and reliable information on these decisions and actions is freely and easily available;

Equality and Fairness – that all groups, particularly the most vulnerable, have equal opportunities to improve or maintain their well being;

Efficiency and Effectiveness – that rules and regulations apply equally to all groups, and that processes and institutions produce results that meet the needs of society, while making the best use of resources at their disposal; and

Rule of Law – that governments are as bound by laws as the citizens and private corporations, and that the laws themselves are consistent with international human rights.

These principles should be used nationally to consider how improved governance can support the achievement of food security goals.  One size does very definitely not fit all contexts. Different countries face different development challenges at various stages of their development, and hence require different capacities and approaches to tackle them effectively. What works in one setting may not necessarily work in another. The particular socio-economic, legal and political conditions of each country will facilitate or constrain progress towards better governance.

In other words, the purpose of having a number of key governance principles is not to describe the ideal state of “good food and nutrition security governance”, but to provide practical guidance for prioritizing interventions, designing and assessing development strategies necessary to achieve the post-2015 UN development agenda.

These key principles can also be useful in pointing out mechanisms that allow improving governance in food security and related sectors (e.g. agriculture, land, forests, fisheries) without requiring changes in the state governance system as such. The challenge is finding the right mix and form that fit the specific country context and its specific needs, and that will allow progress to be made.

Collective contribution from the FAO Governance Study Group (Astrid Agostini, Dubravka Bojic, Juan GarciaCebolla, Carol Djeddah, Florence Egal, Nicole Franz, Rebecca Metzner, Jamie Morrison, Jonathan Reeves, Mike Robson, Margret Vidar and Rolf Willmann)