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

Ellen Meleisea Australia
18-12-2012

Theme 1:

Question:

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?

What do you consider the main challenges and opportunities towards achieving food and nutrition security in the coming years?

 

Answer:

Key lessons:

The key lesson learned during the current MDG framework was that there are only two things that are important: people and the environment. Nations should NOT focus on “building their economies” or “generating economic growth”. That path has been tried, and it has failed.

If the ultimate goal of society is to improve the well-being of all humans on our planet so that people are able to lead happy, healthy and productive lives, there are only two objectives to be achieved:

(i) Uphold human rights (i.e. ensure equality under the law for women, minorities, LGBT, etc).

(ii) Safeguard natural resources (ie. ensure clean water, clean air, healthy soil, etc)

If these two objectives are achieved, all other objectives (reduction of poverty, reduction of maternal mortality, etc) will also be achieved.

For example, if women’s human right to equality (with men) is achieved, women’s health will improve, maternal mortality will drop, education of women will increase, women’s participation in the economy will increase, etc.

Likewise, if the resources on which human lives depend are safeguarded (through preventing water, air and soil pollution, ending dependence on polluting fossil fuels, farming without using polluting pesticides and other chemicals, etc)  human health will improve and people will have the resources they need to grow safe and nutritious food.

 

Challenges and opportunities towards achieving food and nutrition security:

Challenges: Climate change is a key challenge – it will destroy many countries and make it impossible for many people to grow food. Instead of focusing on “climate change mitigation”, nations should focus on stopping climate change. To do this they need to switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy, right now. This switch will be challenging as there are powerful corporations who will oppose this change (because they will lose money) but if the ultimate goal is to improve the well-being of all people on the planet, these corporations must be opposed.

Opportunities: There have been great improvements in human understanding of our planet’s climate, ecosystems and soil and it has been proven that organic, labour-intensive and sustainable farming systems produce high yields with low pollution. Such systems use only the locally-available inputs, they do not rely on imported inputs (fertilizers, pesticides, machinery, etc). People benefit from such systems by not having to spend money to buy inputs (therefore avoiding debt) and by having a healthy and productive life. This will not make people “rich” but neither will “conventional agriculture” which usually results in people becoming indebted, the soil being destroyed, waterways depleted and polluted, and much misery for the people involved (who then move to the cities where they suffer even further).

Theme 2: 

Question:

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?

Answer:

Improved governance and rights-based approaches are essential in achieving food and nutrition security. Accountability and political commitment are vital in achieving improved governance and ensuring that approaches are rights-based.

The Zero Hunger Challenge is an excellent initiative as it focuses both on human rights (access to food) and safeguarding natural resources (food systems must be sustainable and there should be zero waste of food).

The Global Strategic Framework for Food Security and Nutrition is not useful as it still focuses on “economic growth” and “investment by stakeholders” rather than on upholding human rights and safeguarding natural resources. The core values of this strategic framework are not in line with the ultimate goal: that all people should be able to lead happy, healthy and productive lives.

 

Theme 3:

Question:

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?

 

Answer:

The Zero Hunger Challenge objectives that I think are the most useful in terms of achieving the ultimate goal (“all people should be able to lead happy, healthy and productive lives”) are:

a.            100% access to adequate and nutritious food all year round

c.             All food systems are sustainable

e.            Zero loss or waste of food.

 

The other two “objectives” are just indicators of whether the above three objectives have been achieved or not.
These two “objectives” will be achieved if the three other objectives are achieved:

b.            Zero stunted children less than 2 years old

d.            100% increase in smallholder productivity and income

 

For “objective” d, I would remove the words “and income”. The focus should NOT be on increasing income or wealth. The focus should be on improving peoples’ quality of life. An increase in productivity can represent an increase in quality of life (greater reward for the same work) but an increase in income does not necessarily represent an increase in quality of life, as income increase is often accompanied by an increase in debt.

 

Apart from the three objectives I listed above, nations should also strive to achieve the following objectives:

i. Equality in the law for women and men

ii. Zero discrimination against women, minorities and LGBT (in accordance with internationally-agreed norms of what constitutes “discrimination”)

iii. 100% protection of water, air and soil resources (in accordance with internationally-agreed standards)

 

Thus, there would be six objectives in total:

I.             100% access to adequate and nutritious food all year round

II.            All food systems are sustainable

III.           Zero loss or waste of food

IV.          Equality in the law for women and men (equal rights, equal pay, equal access to education)

V.            Zero discrimination against women, minorities and LGBT (in accordance with internationally-agreed norms of what constitutes “discrimination”)

VI.          100% protection of water, air and soil resources (in accordance with internationally-agreed standards)

 

All objectives should be global and all nations should aim to achieve them within 10 years.