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?
Over the years development approaches have gone through several phases affecting operating methods and the types of planned and implemented interventions.
Food security, agriculture and rural development are no exception.
Recently, to improve alignment with the strategies and programmes of partner countries, national level participation and sector programmes has been encouraged; these programmes include different types of interventions such as initiatives for public aid for development, private investment, national and local interventions, etc. (e.g. the Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Programme - CAADP).
Particular attention has been dedicated to strengthening institutions in order to guarantee programmes’ sustainability and ownership..
Furthermore, in order to be effective, aid for food security, agriculture and rural development must take the sector’s specifics into account:
• the central importance of gender issues (the majority of small subsistence farmers are women);
• the key role of the private sector and civil society;
• the importance of non-renewable natural resources (water, soil, biodiversity, climate, etc.) and frameworks regulating how they are managed;
• Inter-sectorial nature of the issue that involves different types of policies, competences and actors (e.g. energy, health, etc.);
• the local scope of problems, risks and opportunities (e.g. environmental, economic, social, etc.);
• the value of territorial and decentralized cooperation and the promotion of development programmes based on the participation of local community and grass-root organisations.
Some of the key lessons could be so summarised:
1. There is a strong interdependency among the MDGs. The multifacets/ sectorial dimension of hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition imposes to tackle at the same time several causes and determinants, hence MDGs (e.g., Goals 2, 3, 7 and 8). On the other hand, fighting hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition is critical, for example, to reduce under-five mortality rates (Goal 4);
2. It is not always easy to translate the broad MDGs into action, notably as far as priority setting, specific patterns and determinants, division of labour and resources among Ministries and institutions are concerned. An example could be provided by the limited attention paid in some countries to pastoral, fishery and forestry issues in spite of their importance to several communities and to the national economy and welfare;
3. In such regard and considering the specificity of the agricultural sector, sound Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers helped in defining priorities and specific plans of action to achieve the MDGs which is, hence, not only a technical but also a key political exercise. Under this internationally shared framework, it was possible to convey national efforts to achieve common goals and to compare results;
4. The MDGs should reflect with clearer emphasis the strong association between hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition, on one side, and natural resources management, economic and socio-cultural issues, on the other.
What do you consider the main challenges and opportunities towards achieving food and nutrition security in the coming years?
In order to achieve the food and nutrition security objectives there many interconnected challenges and opportunities.
• Rapid deterioration of natural resources, in particular water and land fertility, fisheries and forests
• Rapid population growth
• Climate change and its effect on traditional agricultural systems
• Inter-sectorial nature of the issue
• Need to develop and adopt more effective policies at global, national and community level
• Local scope of problems, risks and opportunities
• Possible inequities in the access to land and water
• Increased prices of oil products and their effects on the cost of and on the demand for agricultural inputs (e.g., biofuels)
• Price volatility of agricultural products
• Growing demand for agricultural, livestock and fishery products
• Food security continues to be high up in the political and development agenda with high concern from civil society and media
• New investments in policy research and in technologies with revised approach to innovation systems
• Clear resilience shown by many traditional, mixed and semi intensive farming systems against all the odds and in spite of limited support from some national governments
• Better understanding of broader action frameworks such as: strong interdependence between emergency, recovery and development; need for effective inter-sectorial collaboration and coordination; importance of processing and marketing, of farming system evolution and of interdependence between the public and the private sector in agriculture and rural development
• Improved governance at the international level
• Ongoing Reform processes of major International organisations (such as:
CFS, CGIAR), which will improve coordination , for example within the UN Rome
based food agencies
• In some countries, strengthened organisations of smallholder family farmers
• Economic growth and new market developments linked to the urban/rural dynamics
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 four issues are critical:
1. there is the need to translate the vast amount of knowledge and experience into practical, science-based, shared solutions and actions;
2. governance and equity issues need to be properly addressed by regional and national policies;
3. ownership of the whole process from national authorities who, on their turn, have the responsibility to involve and to adapt the policies to the different communities/ key actors (e.g., women, small scale farmers, pastoralists, commercial sector)
4. development rhetoric, therefore ambitious goals and objectives, should be avoided as much as possible in favour of feasible and tangible 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 (www.zerohungerchallenge.org ), and the Global Strategic Framework for Food Security and Nutrition elaborated by the CFS?
The Global Strategic Framework for Food Security and Nutrition elaborated by the CFS provides a comprehensive policy framework for coordination and harmonisation of policies and intervention at all levels, where the CFS provides the global forum for improving mutual understanding and collaboration between different
stakeholders: Governments, International Organisations, Farmers Organisations, CSOs, Research & Education, etc. In our view the work of the CFS on F&NS should be further supported and continued.
The Zero Hunger Challenge provides an overarching international agenda for action, encompassing objectives for developing, emerging and developed countries. We value the approach of merging development objectives with the objectives of sustainability. Another strength is its simplicity to understand and to communicate.
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
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 consider the objectives set out in the Zero Hunger Challenge initiatives important for achieving global food security. These are at the same time ambitious and concrete; one could dispute about our current capacity to define an appropriate set of indicators for monitoring progress towards their achievement; nevertheless we consider that these objectives provide the direction for the required changes in order to achieve sustainable global food security and nutrition. Their quantitative dimension should be carefully articulated at the country and sub-country level to show the intensity of the required changes. The time horizon should be country specific and set according to the intensity of the change needed.
This thematic discussion was led by FAO and WFP in collaboration with “The World We Want”.
The consultation was facilitated by the Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition (FSN Forum)