Re: The e-Consultation on Hunger, Food and Nutrition Security

Benjamin Graeub Biovision Foundation / Millennium Institute, Switzerland

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?

  • MDGs have proven very successful in bridging a political divide and channeling money to a select number of goals. Part of this is due to the fact that the MDGs were not formally negotiated but rather proposed by UN agencies
  • A sole focus on hunger and malnutrition is not enough! To achieve sustainable development, a more holistic approach that promotes a sustainable agriculture and food systems that have positive economic, environmental, and social impacts is necessary.
  • While there has been some advancement, it seems that the strong focus on production increases that resulted from the MDGs is not enough to effectively fight hunger and poverty – at least that is what hunger and poverty numbers currently show. A stronger focus needs to be placed on topics such as environmentally friendly improvements of local, smallholder production in developing countries and inefficiencies in the food system (waste and food losses) and sustainable consumption, which in turn reinforces positive synergies in the system. There was far too much emphasis on short term solution, quick fixes while the system changes that are needed remain the exception.

What do you consider the main challenges and opportunities towards achieving food and nutrition security in the coming years?

  • A major challenge will be the  political divide around the future of agriculture and what measures are necessary to realize the agriculture-hunger-poverty nexus already acknowledged in the MDGs[1]
  • This divide can also be the source of major opportunities. Just as the MDGs brought together actors with diverse backgrounds and opinions, so also will any effective post-2015 arrangement bring together opposing forces.
  • Another challenge may be that any effective post-2015 agreement on goals and targets will have to be more specific than the MDGs were to address the multi-dimensionality of the issues. It will thus be a major challenge to agree on specific measurements. The experience from the MDGs would suggest that these measurements not to be negotiated, but rather prepared by the relevant UN bodies (FAO, IFAD; WFP) or multi-stakeholder expert groups in a transparent process with input from all relevant stakeholders – especially small-scale farmers.
  • To build a system that allows for effective monitoring of current initiatives and their achievements will be a further major challenge that has to be tackled in order to make the post-2015 framework an effective tool.


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?

We believe that no matter what goals, targets and indicators are agreed upon it is important that resources are available for stakeholders to develop their own strategies on the national and sub-national level to tackle these issues. A one-size fits all approach in the implementation of the post-2015 framework is to be avoided. Instead, participatory and inclusive national assessments on food and nutrition security and sustainable agriculture should be facilitated (as called for by the Rio+20 declaration and currently discussed within the CFS) and should establish the basis of international action to achieve the post-2015 goals. Only with such an approach can there be local ownership and a truly bottom-up pressure for the right measures and governance structures to be put in place. We are currently piloting this approach in three countries in sub-Saharan Africa (Kenya, Senegal and Ethiopia) and by the end of 2013 will be able to present preliminary results.

Furthermore, how could we best draw upon current initiatives, including the Zero Hunger Challenge, launched by the UN Secretary General at the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development (, and the Global Strategic Framework for Food Security and Nutrition elaborated by the CFS?

The GSF of the CFS should be used as a basis of discussions to avoid duplication of work in NYC that has already been done in Rome. Therefore it is important to have several events with both Rome- and NYC-based delegates discussing the negotiated and agreed work in Rome on the topic.

The Zero Hunger Challenge should be the basis of any discussion in the area of poverty, hunger and sustainable agriculture. While it is not perfect, it is a good starting point because it incorporates the main issues that need to be addressed and is very ambitious in its goals.


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?

We strongly support the goals and the general direction of the Zero Hunger Challenge. As the Secretary-General pointed out, these goals should be achieved within his lifetime. We do therefore think that any post-2015 goals need to be time-bound and propose 2030 as the target year. This also allows countries to effectively plan for 2030 and allows for effective monitoring of progress and achievements as well as failures.

The one issue that is not emphasized strongly enough in the context of an increasingly risky and uncertain future is resilience. It is indispensable that resilience – and not just climate-resilience – will be at the core of any sustainable food system. We therefore would like to see under point c. “All food systems are sustainable and resilient”.

We believe that to the goals proposed by the Zero Hunger Challenge the targets can be negotiated within the relevant intergovernmental bodies while it is crucial that indicators are not negotiated but proposed by the entities with the necessary technical knowledge. This shall be done in an open and transparent process, taking into account the inputs of all relevant stakeholders.

We believe that the goals should be global but that the process allocates resources to allow for region- and country-specific adoption and implementation plans to be carried out.

We would also point to the fact that agriculture and food systems are part of the climate change problem, and also very much affected by it. Looking forward, there is a need to emphasizes that agriculture and food systems alone cannot deliver on all the sustainability dimension without the other sectors strong commitment to transformation towards sustainability (greenness too. The task of meeting food and nutrition security is the responsibility of all sectors, should we be successful.


See the attachment: E-consultation FAO_BV_MI.pdf