Second Committee of the 67th United Nations General Assembly On Agenda Item 26: Agriculture Development and Food Security
More than a decade ago, the world made halving the proportion of people who suffer from hunger a critical component of the first MDG. The State ofFood Insecurityin the World (SOFI) report (launched 9 October) published by FAO, IFAD and WFP, brings mixed news. While the global number of people in chronic hunger has declined by 130 million people over the past 20 years, and the proportion of the population that is undernourished has dropped globally from 18.6 percent in 1990 to 12.5 percent today, 868 million people are still hungry. So while there is some good news, it is still nowhere good enough.
High and volatile food prices continue to put pressure on the poor, most of whom spend over half of their income on food. There have been three international food price spikes in the last five years. Weather has been among the drivers of each. Three global challenges must be tackled: the immediate issue of high and volatile food prices; the long-term issue of how we produce, trade and consume food in an age of increasing population growth, demand and climate change; and the key issue of access to nutritious food among the poorest, especially in the 1000 days from the start of a woman’s pregnancy until her child’s second birthday, so as to help break the cycle of poverty and malnutrition. Many countries and communities are confronting all or many of these challenges at once, and all too often the burden falls hardest on the most vulnerable who have little access to safety nets or social protection systems.
The Rome-based agencies (RBAs), which include IFAD, WFP and FAO, are working with other key partners, have policies and programs in place to overcome this challenge, recognizing the need to balance short- and long-term needs and constraints, as well as empowering women, poor farmers and poor consumers.
In addition, the RBAs actively engage in international development processes such as LDC and South-South cooperation, and promote partnerships and enhanced dialogue among different stakeholders, to ensure food and nutrition security are adequately mainstreamed and monitored.
With respect to the implementation of the Istanbul Programme of Action, the RBAs are building on its comparative advantages and respective areas of expertise and collaboration with other entities and have established an Inter-Agency Working Group on Agriculture, Food Security and Nutrition and Rural Development in LDCs, to articulate a development approach that is specifically relevant to LDCs and their pursuit to reduce hunger and malnutrition and increase the incomes of poor people in a sustainable manner.
In particular, women are central to the development of rural areas and to national economies. However, rural women and girls have restricted access to productive resources, such as land, agricultural inputs, finance and credit, extension services and technology, which in turn limits the efficiency of the agricultural sector. The recently launched UN-Women RBAs joint programme on rural women focuses on four goals: improving food and nutrition security, increasing incomes, enhancing leadership and participation in rural institutions, and creating a more responsive policy environment at national and international levels.
We are also better placed today than in 2007/08 in addressing the challenge of high and volatile food prices. We have developed new policies and new instruments, like the United Nations High-Level Task Force on Global Food Security and AMIS, the G20's Agricultural Markets Information System, which improves transparency in global markets. We also have the AMIS-related Rapid Response Forum, set up to facilitate coordinated policy responses by the major world producers and traders of key cereals and soybeans in the event of market upheavals.
In addition, the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement is helping to build unprecedented global momentum on child under-nutrition. Over 30 national governments have expressed their commitment to prioritize nutrition actions through multi-sector and multi-stakeholder coordinated approaches that support nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive development.
We also look forward to the International Conference on Nutrition twenty one years later (ICN+21) in November 2013, which will bring food, agriculture, health, education, social protection and other sectors together to mobilize the political will and resources necessary for improving nutrition and for reaching consensus around a global multi-sector nutrition framework indicating concrete steps to improve nutrition.
Another important contribution is Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security recently endorsed by the renewed Committee on World Food Security.
As evidenced, much is being done, but clearly we must do more. Ending hunger and malnutrition is central to sustainable development, and must be a top post-2015 priority, as confirmed atRio+20 and in the Outcome Document “The Future We Want”. The UN Development Group has taken steps to convening global thematic consultations on 11 important themes, the outcome of which will feed into the UN General Assembly discussions beginning in September 2013. FAO and WFP have agreed to co-chair, in collaboration with IFAD, Bioversity International, the HLTF and other key partners, the global thematic consultation on Hunger, Food and Nutrition Security, which will be hosted by the Government of Spain. The objective of this consultation is to ensure that hunger and food and nutrition security remain high on the post-2015 UN development agenda. In line with the SG’s Zero Hunger Challenge, we need to already start looking beyond the MDGs towards the total eradication of hunger.
The Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review (QCPR) review provides an important opportunity for Member States and the UN system to discuss and respond to recent global development challenges, and to identify opportunities and light and creative coordination models where the main focus is on strategic issues and delivering results on the ground.