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?
The original MDG on food security is effective in focusing the global community on the key development challenges to address poverty and hunger. However, by focusing only on the challenges and not identifying the underlying causes and pathways to address hunger and food insecurity, the MDGs risks promoting unsustainable actions, while missing the opportunity to promote collective action and innovation in identifying and scaling up solutions.
Post-2015 food security targets should identify the overarching desired outcome, e.g. eliminate hunger, supported by outputs that measure progress in identifying the underlying causes, e.g. increasing incomes and increasing smallholder productivity in food insecure countries. There should be a range of outputs to allow sufficient flexibility to reflect the range of differing causes of food security across regions, so countries can prioritize outputs as meets their needs.
The next generation of targets should also consider how to promote integrated solutions across sectors such as food, water, energy, landscapes and ecosystems—given the inherent linkages and the need to maximize synergies and to minimize unintended impacts.
What do you consider the main challenges and opportunities towards achieving food and nutrition security in the coming years?
With our population expected to reach nine billion by 2050, farmers will need to increase food production substantially despite finite natural resources. Addressing food waste and over nutrition can help to lessen these pressures, but climate change and harsher growing conditions, poses a real threat to the ability of the world’s farmers to provide for themselves and their families. Improving the way farmers operate will be critical to sustainability increasing food production and alleviating poverty for the world’s 2.5 billion farmers, particularly in developing countries where there are substantial yield gaps.
We believe the first step will be recognizing the environmentally friendly practices already being used in agriculture, and determining how these sustainable practices could be shared with more farmers. Today, farms around the world utilize crop protection products and plant biotechnology to increase crop yields, improve incomes and reduce their environmental footprint. For example:
• In Brazil, farmers who use biotech soybeans, cotton and corn varieties have reduced their water usage by 16.2 billion litres from 1996 to 2010.
• Farmers in Kenya who use pesticides to produce disease-free passion fruit improve their income by 400%.
• Bt cotton farmers in India earn between $378-$520 more per hectare than growers using conventional cotton varieties, which has led to $9.4 billion in farm income gains due to Bt cotton adoption from 2002-2010.
• In Canada, adoption of no-till practices in canola, enabled by crop protection products and plant biotechnology, sequesters nearly one million tonnes of carbon each year.
• Each year, crop protection product prevent nearly 50% yield loss in wheat crops around the globe.
In every region of the globe, farmers are using plant science to enhance their sustainability and protect their lands for future generations. Governments, NGOs and the private sector must examine how we can promote policies that support farmers to use good agricultural practices today, while continuing to improve upon the sustainability of practices in the future.
Opportunities offered by expanding access to good farming practices and plant science are as follows:
Fighting Poor Nutrition:
Creaitng healthier diets through new varieties and abundant food choices
Reducing water needs through plant science technologies
Feeding Nine Billion:
Improving yield through new varieties and protection from pest
Reducing soil erosion by enabling conservation agriculture
Safeguarding biodiversity by reducing the need for additional land
Responding to Climate Change:
Managing our changing climate through innovative technologies
Importantly, while we believe in the opportunities posed by plant science to address the aforementioned challenges, its important to allow flexibility in the Post-2015 frameworks and SDG targets for countries and farmers to employ a range of farming practices and technologies, as there are no “one size fits all solutions in agriculture: given the wide array of landscape and agro-ecological zones.
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?
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 private sector is at its best in leveraging market-based solutions to address some of the most intractable problems in addressing poverty and sustainability. In this spirit efforts would include:
To succeed, we also need to see concerted efforts by governments, both in the developed and the developing world—particularly as we as a global community look to expand beyond the MDGs to truly global SDGs that seek to secure future food security via sustainable agriculture.
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?
The Zero Hunger Challenge is a good starting point and importantly it puts the focus where the greatest attention is needed in terms of addressing the needs of hungry people around the world, while promoting sustainable agriculture. However, as the SDGs will be global integrating sustainability and development, food security should be similarly scoped and ambitious, considering hunger, malnutrition, and obesity (or over-nutrition), and the links to the four commonly accepted dimensions of food security: availability, access, stability and utilization.
Scoping of the targets for food security, should allow for pathways that address the underlying causes particularly in terms of poverty, by promoting economic growth in key sectors that provide incomes and employment for poor people, including agriculture, as well as considering the role of safety nets for the most vulnerable
Ensure that the proposed pathways and targets provide countries and farmers flexibility in terms of the farming practices and technologies, as there are no “one size fits all solutions in agriculture” given the wide array of landscapes and agro-ecological zones
Key Outputs/Measures related to Food Security include:
There also needs to be indicators around hunger, malnutiriton and obesity, but we do not include these here, as these targets do not fall directly within our area of expertise.
Director, Global Public Policy
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)