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

Roy Anunciacion People's Coalition on Food Sovereignty, Philippines
22-12-2012

 

People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty:

Submission to consultation on hunger, food and nutrition security

 

The World Bank claims it has achieved Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 1 - to halve extreme poverty and hunger (measured as living on less than US$1.25 per day) - yet 43% of the world continue to live on less than US$2 per day.[1] This amount is insufficient to meet basic needs – food, shelter, health care and education – and it is clear a large proportion of the world continues to live in poverty. However, they are not considered sufficiently poor and are left outside of the work of the MDGs.

The MDGs were unambitious, and hugely flawed. The limitations in the MDGs in the exclusionary process of its development, the Northern-led, box-ticking manner of implementation and the total failure to address the root causes of development issues has meant that little substantial progress has been achieved. The post-2015 development agenda needs to commit to real action to tackling the root causes of poverty and hunger in the Global South. Rhetoric and surface-level targets must be abandoned in favour of more ambitious targets based on human rights. The new development framework should tackle and eliminate the structural causes of inequality that drive hunger and poverty. In the face of ongoing multiple crises, the post-2015 agenda presents an opportunity to introduce substantive structural reforms which will address the root causes of these crises, 

Theme 1

Key lessons from MDGs

Challenges and opportunities in the coming years

There is a need to recognize the inherent limitations of the MDGs to ensure that the same problems are not repeated in a Post-2015 agenda.

·         Goal setting: MDGs were unambitious even on targets that could be achieved by 100%. Some targets such as halving hunger glosses over the fact that the right to food is a basic inalienable right for all people and not only half the population. Basic human rights could be achieved for all if the MDG framework took into account the issues related to good governance and the need for sustained and comprehensive support from developed countries. The Post 2015 framework  needs to be more ambitious in its targets, set concrete goals on good governance and set an accountability framework for developed countries,

·         Process: the MDGs were developed through an undemocratic process without consultation with the target people. This is reflected in the goals failure to call for the eradication of poverty and hunger, but rather it’s halving in accordance with standards which are manipulated to produce favorable results. The Post-2015 agenda must be developed through a truly democratic, consultative multi-stakeholder processes led by Southern governments and Southern CSOs.

·         Limited vision: the MDGs were short-sighted. They proposed grand objectives without connecting problems to root causes. As a result the MDGs have not had meaningful, sustainable impacts on their intended beneficiaries. The post-2015 agenda must address the systemic causes of inequality that mean many live in wealth, yet nearly two-thirds of the global population face poverty and hunger everyday – despite the World Bank’s claim that MDG 1 (to halve extreme poverty and hunger) has been met.

·         Donor-led: The MDGs were developed and led by donor institutions and governments. Developing countries were seen as implementers through their executives only which resulted in little awareness and participation in MDG processes by other stakeholders. As a result the MDGs have become a scorecard through which donor countries and institutions evaluate the ‘improvements’ made by Southern countries. The post-2015 agenda must be Southern-led and be characterized by a true multi-stakeholder process.

·         Accountability mechanisms: The MDGs held state executives accountable to donors. The executive bodies of national governments were expected to report on MDG progress to international institutions and major donor countries, ignoring the people supposed to benefit from the work of the MDGs. There was not accountability mechanism which centered on the people themselves holding their own governments to account. As such the MDGs became a box-ticking exercise, a development agenda disconnected from Southern people.

 

Theme 2

What works best?

Future key issues?

PCFS member organizations are comprised of grassroots farmer and fisherfolk organisations, and their representative civil society organisations. They have everyday practical experience of the struggles facing farmers. They have identified the following critical issues affecting domestic food security, and driving hunger and poverty especially in the rural areas where the majority of global poor and hungry are located.

1.      Land: without land a farmer cannot produce food, fisherfolk have no access to fisheries resources and a base to keep their home and equipment, and pastoralists cannot feed their livestock. Two (2) increasingly critical and interconnected issues are land loss and landlessness perpetuated by inequitable distribution of land and land grabbing. Concentration of land in a few hands leads to many people being unable to grow enough food to sell on the market or support their families. Laborers on large-scale farms commonly experience terrible labor conditions and have no food security. At the same time, urban populations are dependent on local food production for affordable, nutritious and culturally appropriate food - their access to food is threatened by land grabs. Land grabbing is taking place in Africa, Asia and Latin America due to the demand for biofuels and agricultural production for export to meet the food security demands of other countries.

2.      Climate Change: food producers need to adapt to climate change. Rural, Southern communities are the most vulnerable to the negative impacts of climate change, including reduced favorable conditions for crop growth. These impacts have been brought about by historic pollution by Northern governments and businesses. Despite the urgency of genuinely addressing climate change in agriculture, international institutions and governments continue to debate mitigation strategies in agriculture hinged on markets for profits. Northern countries should provide finance and support to Southern Countries to adapt to the effects of climate change especially in agriculture.

3.      Fisheries: the fisheries sector has critical economic and social importance - it is the highest value traded food, and more than half the global population depend on fish products for 15% of their protein intake, while 10 – 12% of the global population are dependent on the sector for their livelihood. But fisheries resources are in a state of crises. Wild fish stocks are close to total collapse. Millions of people face being thrown into poverty and hunger. Yet the fisheries sector continues to be forgotten in plans to combat hunger and poverty.

The common experience across these three critical issues is that industrial agri-businesses and industrial fisheries are leading unsustainable environmental and social exploitation of resources, and driving poverty. These businesses are grabbing resources to meet demand for export products while displacing local small-scale food producers and exploiting local labor forces. Their actions are driving climate change, environmental degradation, and hunger and poverty. PCFS member organizations have seen that small-scale food producers can produce enough food to meet global needs while using environmentally and socially sustainable methods.

 

Theme 3

Objectives targets and indicators

The UN Secretary-General has put forward several proposed objectives for the Post-2015 agenda under the Zero Hunger challenge. PCFS remains concerned about the proposed objectives as they reflect the same structure and objectives used in the MDGs. They thus pose inherent limitations in addressing the structural causes of poverty and hunger.

Limitations of Zero Hunger challenge objectives:

a)      100% access to adequate food all year round:  This objective does not guarantee that people will have access to nutritious or culturally appropriate food. Urban poor communities increasingly consume cheap, unhealthy food products, which do not meet nutritional requirements. Furthermore, guaranteeing ‘access’ to food does not mean that it will be affordable.

b)     Zero stunted children less than 2 years old: malnutrition in children affects growth into adulthood and must be tackled at an early stage. This target should be increased to zero stunted children less than 5 years old.

c)      All food systems are sustainable: What is sustainable? This should be qualified: food systems need to be ecologically, environmentally and socially sustainable. We need to abandon industrial, mono-cropping farming practices which exhaust the soil and pollute the environment with heavy dependence on chemical fertilizers and pesticides. The most important component in food production systems – farm laborers and farmers – must be prioritized.

d)     100% increase in smallholder productivity and income: the barriers to smallholder productivity are not the farmers themselves but the external factors limiting their production. Promoting and supporting the interests of small-scale farmers and fisherfolk must be coupled with the rejection of destructive large-scale industrialized agriculture and fisheries. The objective fails to recognize how land grabbing and measures favouring industrial agri-business are pushing out small-scale farmers, alongside factors limiting smallholder farmers, such as climate change, dependence on chemical fertilizers and pesticides brought by their international promotion, and the appropriation of land.

e)      Zero loss or waste of food: the bulk of loss and waste of food takes place upon reaching markets in Northern countries in industrial agriculture. Rejection of unattractive but edible food and waste of food is common. This objective must recognize this distinction to ensure that this objective is adequately addressed.

In the Post-2015 agenda on hunger and poverty, PCFS strongly recommends that:

·         Food sovereignty should be objective number one. Food sovereignty should be the key policy framework to inform the post-2015 agenda on hunger and poverty. It promotes a framework of food production systems based on:

o        Adequate, safe, nutritious and culturally appropriate food for all,

o        Food production that is environmentally and socially sustainable

o        Agro-ecology as a means to increase food production in environmentally and socially sustainable methods

o        Ensures local ownership and control of food production systems guaranteeing domestic food security

o        Support small-scale farmers and fisherfolk, women producers, workers and secure access to (and protection of) the water, land, soils, biodiversity, and other resources upon which food security depends.

o        Agrarian reform in order to secure worker’s, farmer’s and rural people’s democratic access to land, water resources and seeds, as well as to finance and infrastructure

·         Process and Accountability Mechanisms: The post-2015 agenda must be based on substantive and true consultation with the people and it should be led by Southern governments and southern CSOs. It should include a participatory multi-stakeholder approach emphasizing support for Southern movements, and their inclusion as leaders of the in post-2015 processes. While there are initial steps towards this direction in the form of this open consultation, there are still substantial barriers to southern participation in the processes. As stages of the consultation process are commonly slated to be held in the Global North, they are rendered inaccessible for many Southern organizations. For example, the second stage of this consultation process to be held in late January or early February 2013 open to all stakeholders will be held in Rome, Italy is only accessible for organizations located nearby or with substantial resources. Grassroots organisations from the South do not have the resources to self-finance to ensure their participation in these processes. Ensuring their participation is a challenge in this regard.

The Post-2015 agenda should feature accountability mechanisms that people can use to hold their governments to account. The structure for accountability mechanisms should move away from donors to ensure that the people themselves have primary control over the formation and implementation of these goals. As representatives of the people, CSOs should feature prominently in accountability mechanisms, using their sectoral and thematic expertise to hold governments and institutions to account on behalf of the people. Southern Governments need to put in place permanent consultative processes which include all stakeholders and ensures their regular input and feedback on the framing of policy and its implementation.

Policy coherence: There is a proliferation of policy documents aimed at addressing poverty and hunger. The post-2015 agenda on hunger and poverty should complement pre-existing policies on hunger and poverty to ensure there is effective, coordinated action. This should not be another action plan which will divert resources away from existing actions and policies. The Post-2015 agenda should also recognize the inter-relations  between different issues, for example between poverty and hunger, agriculture and environmental sustainability.

 


[1] World Bank, An Update to the World bank’s estimates of consumption poverty in the developing world, http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTPOVCALNET/Resources/Global_Poverty...