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Benin and Rome-based agencies target shift in post-2015 agriculture and food systems

Elisabeth Rasmusson, Assistant Executive Director of WFP (photo by Dirk Verdonk)


To nourish nine billion people by 2050, transformational change in agriculture and food systems is needed now to address the unprecedented environmental, social and economic challenges ahead. 

This was the central message from a two-day roundtable of discussions and exchange of ideas on Food and Nutrition Security through Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems in the Post-2015 Agenda, hosted by the Government of Benin, Millennium Institute and Biovision Foundation in New York on 27-28 March.

The event, which brought together representatives from governments, UN agencies, civil society, the private sector, research institutions and foundations, saw two major initiatives launched.

In the first, Ambassador Jean-Francois Zinzou, Permanent Representative of Benin to the United Nations, introduced “SHIFT”, an acronym spelling out five main areas of focus to transform agriculture and food systems:

S: Smallholder food producers are empowered
H: Hunger and malnutrition are addressed in all forms
I: Inclusiveness through consultations with all actors including the most vulnerable
F: Food systems are sustainable and productive
T: Trade policies and strategies that improve the functioning of domestic, regional and international markets and ensure equitable access for all

Speaking on behalf of the Rome-based Agencies – FAO, IFAD and WFP, Elisabeth Rasmusson, Assistant Executive Director of WFP, then presented five targets on food security, nutrition and sustainable agriculture:

  • Access to adequate food all year round
  • End malnutrition in all its forms, with special attention to stunting
  • Make all food production systems become more productive, sustainable, resilient and efficient
  • Ensure all small food producers, especially women, have access to inputs, knowledge, resources and services to increase their productivity sustainably
  • Reduce food loss and waste by 50 per cent by making post-production food systems more efficient

The targets were inspired by the UN Secretary-General’s Zero Hunger Challenge, which envisions a world where, within our lifetime, no-one experiences chronic hunger and malnutrition.  

“The key to understanding the five targets that the Rome based agencies have presented lies in recognizing their interdependence,” said Rasmusson. “They capture the inter-linked dimensions of a holistic and multidimensional approach to food security, nutrition and sustainable agriculture, which we believe to be a critical part of the sustainable future we all want to build.”

The Round-table resulted in a list of messages, targets and inter-linkages on food and nutrition security through sustainable agriculture and food systems that enjoyed broad support among participants. The report was submitted to the Co-Chairs of the Open Working Group (OWG) during its 10th session (31 March-4 April 2014), while direct reference was made to the messages in a statement by the Major Groups on the OWG Focus Area 2 “Sustainable Agriculture, Food Security and Nutrition”.