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

Summary of the second week

 

Key lessons learned during the current MDGs

 

Participants shared several lessons on the current MDG agenda, which both enrich and also echo those already included in the Report to the Secretary General entitled: Realizing the Future We Want for All. These include:

  • MDGs are flawed by their top-down nature; there is need for a much more participatory approach for targets to be successful – and this is precisely what this e-consultation is for;
  • The “one size fits all” approach that, while good for advocacy, does not consider the diversity of countries and regions;
  • Focus of the MDGs is limited to the ends with no mention of the means;
  • Over-reliance on objectives that require extensive quantitative information has proven to be very difficult, with data lacking altogether in some countries;
  • The segmented nature of the MDGs risks perpetuating the tendency of ministries and development organizations to handle some underlying issues separately from others, while in practice, there are strong linkages (such as between, food security, health and nutrition).
  • Complexity of the fight against hunger requires a concerted effort by all actors and stakeholders.

Challenges and opportunities for achieving food and nutrition security in the coming years

 

Participants shared a wide array of challenges that future development objectives need to take into consideration in order to be successful.

The demographics of the world population are a big challenge, as a growing (and less poor) global population will increasingly put stress on the current food systems.

Furthermore, changes in demand and in food consumption habits, often in already food secure populations, overconsumption might lead to a double burden of both over- and under-nutrition.

Food losses put further strain on food availability. To counter this trend, safe storage and further study of the impact of micro-organisms on the food chain need to be part of future development agendas.

Participants also mentioned that the pressure on resources such as water and land will be increasing, and their protection and availability needs to feature prominently and across sectors in a future development agenda. Building on outcomes of the RIO+20 conference, the statement: "We recognize the key role that ecosystems play in maintaining water quantity and quality and support actions within the respective national boundaries to protect and sustainably manage these ecosystems." (UNCSD Rio+20 2012 ‘The Future We Want’ Paragraph 122) was mentioned as a way forward.

Degradation of land, due to soil erosion, the growing of inappropriate crops and climate change was also identified as a major challenge that needs to be faced head-on.

Rights-based aspects such as landlessness, gender inequality and unequal access to education were also identified as future challenges; participants argued that is not possible to tackle food and nutrition insecurity without also tackling poverty. Policies and good governance are key for making progress in these fields and this aspect needs to be explicitly included in the development agenda.

Participants also argued that the integrated and global nature of the food systems means that food security in both developed and developing countries is interdependent. Risk management mechanisms are needed everywhere as some important challenges, such as climate change, are not yet fully understood.

What works best and how to go about addressing the hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition challenges head on?

 

For the post-2015 Development agenda, to make progress, participants suggested that eliminating hunger involves investments in agriculture, rural development, decent work, social protection and equality of opportunities. Current public expenditure should be revised and governments should increase the portion of their budgets devoted to agriculture to over 10%, as agreed upon in the Maputo Declaration of 2003. In particular, it was suggested to increase support for small-scale farmers through education and extension programmes.

Emphasis on people

Local culture, customs, production techniques and eating habits need to be considered in future development activities. Awareness raising should take place at all levels but well-functioning local systems should be maintained and strengthened, as they are mostly highly specialized and widely accepted by the population.

Realizing gender equality and protecting the farmers through granting land rights is also felt as being of paramount importance.

The Post 2015 Development agenda should support participatory and planning-by-people processes to ensure participation of those living in poverty in decisions that affect their lives.

Livestock and fisheries sectors need to be better recognized in achieving food and nutrition security

Livestock needs to be protected as the livelihoods of many poor people depend on them. Intervention to secure “fodder security” of the animals might in some cases be more sensible and less disruptive then focussing only on the food security of their owners.

Fisheries. The pivotal role which fish can play in direct and indirect food security is not adequately recognised. Little is said about fish, even in countries where fish is central to people’s diets, irrespective of their income levels and social status and where the potential for increasing fishery related activities is still high.