What is food security? While I was following on October 29th the P.1.1. session on “National Food Security” of the Second Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development (GCARD 2012) which discusses Partnerships to Achieve Food and Nutrition Security, I was asked this question.
The definition of food security shifted in the past 50 years dramatically. The World Food Summit in 1996 gave a simple definition. It stated that “Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life”. This definition encompasses several widely accepted points related to food security such as food availability, food access, utilization and stability.
But, unfortunately, it does not give the right to a good food governance back to the stakeholders involved in the agri-food chain and the right to food security. The Right to Food is not a new concept, and was first recognized in the UN Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. In 1996, the formal adoption of the Right to Adequate Food marked a milestone achievement by World Food Summit delegates. It pointed the way towards the possibility of a rights based approach to food security.
Currently over 40 countries have the right to food enshrined in their constitution and FAO estimates that the right to food could be judicial in some 54 countries. In 2004, a set of voluntary guidelines supporting the progressive realization of the right to adequate food in the context of national food security were elaborated by an Intergovernmental Working Group under the auspices of the FAO Council.
But RIGHT TO FOOD ≠ RIGHT TO FOOD GOVERNANCE. As was mentioned several times during the discussions in different panels at GCARD 2012, a multi-stakeholder approach might represent the way through which food governance can be introduced. Representing a multi-regional approach to fighting global hunger, joining forces through a coalition building process, and giving the right to food governance to the agri-food chain stakeholders can be realized through the creation of a GLOBAL FOOD POLICY.
Coordinating at global level the efforts of fighting hunger, we can reduce the stress level that volatile food prices can bring on the world economy. World Bank President Robert Zoellick stated in February 2012 that “there is a real stress point that could have social and political implications”. With corporations and farmers’ organizations reaching out, United Nations system bodies and National governments working together on a single common goal, there is the possibility of creating a Global Food Policy that could encompass policy matters on both agricultural productivity and competitiveness, agricultural research for development (AR4D), food trade and food waste.
The Global Food Policy presents several advantages to present food security approach:
It moves toward an integrated systems approach, with instant inclusion of all stakeholders in the global, regional and national programs;
It does not affect sovereignty of countries, taking into account all national specificities and being implemented together with National governments;
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)