Twenty-ninth Session

Rome, 12-16 May 2003


Table of Contents


1. This note is intended to facilitate the Committee’s consideration of ways and means of making the International Alliance Against Hunger (IAAH) a reality. It summarizes the origins of the IAAH and subsequent steps taken; it presents proposed aims, guiding principles and activities of an international alliance, building upon national alliances and initiatives in the fight against hunger. The note also considers related issues of membership, servicing of the IAAH, modalities for meetings, and reporting to the CFS. It concludes with an invitation to Members to consider the proposals presented and to provide their guidance and advice.



2. The concept of the IAAH has its origins in the statement of His Excellency, Johannes Rau, President of the Federal Republic of Germany, delivered on the occasion of World Food Day, 16 October 2001, in which he stressed the importance of building a global alliance to strengthen political will in the fight against hunger and poverty.

3. This concept was widely supported at the FAO Conference in November 2001 and in the 2002 round of FAO Regional Conferences. In his letter of 10 December 2001, the Director-General informed Heads of State and Governments of FAO Member States of the growing support for the concept and of the proposal of many Members to have the Alliance as an outcome of the World Food Summit: five years later (WFS: fyl).

4. The WFS: fyl, 10-13 June 2002, Rome, provided increased impetus for implementation of the 1996 WFS Plan of Action and mobilized greater global commitment to achieving the WFS target of reducing by half the number of undernourished by the year 2015.

5. Adopted by acclamation, the Declaration of the WFS: fyl, entitled International Alliance Against Hunger, recognized “the urgent need to reinforce efforts of all concerned partners as an international alliance against hunger, for the fulfilment of the 1996 Summit”. It called “on all parties (governments, international organizations, civil society organizations and the private sector) to reinforce their efforts so as to act as an international alliance against hunger to achieve the WFS targets no later than 2015. With this aim, parties should promote coordinated action. Bearing in mind the contribution of all parties, countries should continue to report on progress to the Committee on World Food Security (CFS), within its mandate as a focal point for the implementation of the WFS Plan of Action”.


An alliance is a group of independent entities that join together to work towards a shared purpose. Alliance members autonomously implement actions to achieve shared objectives. The effectiveness of an alliance is enhanced by strong advocacy and the translation of objectives into well-defined strategies and programmes, a well-orchestrated division of labour among the alliance members and a networking mechanism for exchange of information.

6. The forum organized by NGOs, CSOs and social movements, in parallel to the WFS and WFS: fyl, stressed the conviction that it is possible to eliminate hunger by mobilizing political will at national and international levels for policies based on the dignity and livelihoods of communities themselves. The WFS: fyl NGO/CSO Forum adopted a statement on Food Sovereignty: a Right for All. It also formulated an Action Agenda articulated under the overarching theme of food sovereignty, which is understood as “the right of peoples and communities to define their own agricultural, labour, fishing, food and land policies which are ecologically, socially, economically and culturally appropriate to their unique circumstances”.


7. As follow-up to the WFS: fyl, the Director-General appealed to FAO Member Countries (Note Verbale, G/DG-68 of 3 September 2002) to give concrete effect to the IAAH, beginning at the national level. Positive responses were received from a number of countries.

8. At the 123rd Session of the FAO Council, Rome, 28 October-1 November 2002, the Council recalled that the WFS: fylhad been convened with a view to giving renewed impetus to efforts to achieve the goals of the 1996 World Food Summit. It considered that in adopting the WFS: fyl Declaration entitled ‘International Alliance Against Hunger’, participants at the WFS: fyl had established the framework for a common undertaking to vanquish hunger and achieve food security for all.” (CL 123/REP, para 21). The Council also expressed interest in efforts to operationalise the IAAH at both the national and international levels (para 25).

9. The Director-General met on 1 November 2002 with the International NGO/CSO Planning Committee (IPC), which coordinated NGO/CSO participation in the WFS: fyl and the parallel NGO/CSO Forum. The Director-General reconfirmed the importance he attaches to working with civil society to mobilize political will “from the country level up”. On its past, the IPC is committed to this effort on the basis of the mandate it received from the 2002 WFS: fyl NGO/CSO Forum, functioning as an autonomous regionally-based mechanism for facilitating discussions among NGOs, CSOs and social movements and their dialogue with FAO Members and its Secretariat in Rome. An Exchange of Letters between the Director-General and the IPC, in January 2003, described the actions that FAO and NGOs/CSOs will take in follow-up to the WFS: fyl and the Forum and the principles on which this cooperation is based. Other civil society coordination mechanisms can also be involved in WFS: fyl follow-up.

10. The Rome-based food and agriculture organizations (FAO, IFAD, IPGRI and WFP), together with the IPC, met in November 2002 to consult on the further development of the concept and the practical realization of the IAAH, at both national and international levels. The group agreed that they, themselves, as international stakeholders in the fight against hunger, should assume a leadership role in the establishment of the IAAH, as well as having an advocacy role to ensure that this issue remains high on the international agenda.


11. The 1996 WFS and the 2002 WFS: fyl affirmed that reducing hunger must be a central goal of the international development agenda. The United Nations Millennium Declaration, adopted by the UN General Assembly in September 2000, reflected the WFS target by making hunger and extreme poverty reduction a primary development goal. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are widely accepted as the framework for development action and for measuring progress. They serve as a reference point for many countries for their Poverty Reduction Strategies.

12. Concerted efforts by the Rome-based food and agriculture organizations, FAO, IFAD and WFP, in the International Conference on Financing for Development, Monterrey, Mexico, 8-22 March 2002, helped ensure that serious consideration was given to the need for greater investment in, and development of, agriculture and rural areas in efforts to achieve hunger and poverty reduction. A joint paper entitled, Reducing Poverty and Hunger: the Critical Role of Financing for Food, Agriculture and Rural Development, set forth a “twin-track” strategy for achieving massive and sustainable poverty reduction by (i) targeting hunger directly so as to increase the productivity and productive potential of those who suffer from it, and allow them to take advantage of the opportunities offered by development, and (ii) stimulating agriculture and rural development thought increased investment from both domestic and international sources.

13. The Anti-Hunger Programme, presented by FAO as a draft during a side event at the WFS: fyl, elaborated further the strategies, policies, priorities and collective actions required to meet the WFS target and spelt out the order of magnitude of incremental investment needed in the agricultural and rural sectors (see CFS: 2003/5). This message was carried to the World Summit on Sustainable Development, Johannesburg, 26 August-6 September 2002, through a second draft of the Anti-Hunger Programme. This draft elaborated upon the policy dimensions of hunger reduction and was linked closely to UN-led activities in support of the attainment of the MDGs, in particular the Action Plan for Agriculture, one of the five priority areas for action in the UN Secretary General’s WEHAB (Water, Energy, Health, Agriculture and Biodiversity) initiative.

14. The Millennium Project, launched by the UN Secretary General in late 2002, seeks to devise an implementation plan that will enable all developing countries to meet the MDGs. Ten thematic Task Forces, including a Hunger Task Force, will undertake research and report to the UN Secretary General and the Administrator of the UNDP. These Task Forces are comprised of representatives from academia, the public and private sectors, civil society organizations, and UN agencies, selected on the basis of their technical expertise and practical experience. FAO has an active role in the Hunger Task Force.

15. In summary, since the 1996 WFS, the fight against hunger and extreme poverty has been recognized explicitly as an international development goal. As is recalled in FAO’s Anti Hunger Programme paper, and as it has been repeatedly stated in international fora, enough is already known about how to overcome hunger. Political will and resources, at the national and international levels, are required to realize the commitments already undertaken by Member States in the 1996 WFS and 2002 WFS: fyl, and other international forum.

16. The immediate need is to translate commitment into action. Urgent action is required, starting at the national level, with the international community providing strong support to those countries and stakeholders in them, who demonstrate the political will to address issues of hunger and poverty. International stakeholders have a fundamental advocacy role in influencing global public opinion and providing direct support to national actors. National actors have the responsibility and commitment to translate this advocacy into action.


17. The aims, guiding principles, activities, membership and consultative mechanisms of the IAAH require articulation. An initial proposal was made in the concluding chapter of the draft Anti-Hunger Programme. Subsequently, an FAO inter-departmental working group and members of the Rome-based food agencies, including the IPC, discussed the aims of an IAAH in the context of the progressive realization of the right to adequate food for national food security. The following proposals, for the realization of the IAAH, are put forward for the consideration of the CFS, taking into account of the origins of the concept and subsequent steps taken.


18. The aim of an alliance against hunger is first and foremost to facilitate initiatives at local and national levels by which the poor and hungry are enabled to achieve food security on a sustainable basis. Regional and international alliances have an important role in supporting these initiatives. There is urgency in building such alliances if the necessary political will is to be generated for the fight against hunger. The ultimate purpose of the IAAH is to forge action to this end.

19. Thus far, the IAAH would have the following aims:


20. National alliances, and related initiatives against hunger, constitute the basic pillars of the IAAH. The International Alliance would build upon existing initiatives at national, regional and international levels. The existence of the IAAH would, in turn, strengthen and sustain national alliances and support the formation of such alliances where they do not already exist. It could provide international recognition3/ for national initiatives as part of an international process of working towards the WFS goal of halving the number of undernourished by the year 2015.

21. National alliances should be owned and led, nationally, by stakeholders themselves in their own countries. The forms that these alliances take would depend on local circumstances, taking into account existing agreements amongst stakeholders. In many countries, such institutional and legislative mechanisms already exist for dialogue and coordinated action. In others, a national forum may still need to be established comprising diverse organizations, movements and individuals who recognize the feasibility and urgency of making progress towards the reduction of hunger, and who are committed to encouraging their peers and an array of national institutions to do more towards reducing hunger.

22. In line with the key message of the Anti-Hunger Programme, initiatives against hunger could consider the “twin track” approach, which combines priority for investment in agriculture and rural development, with direct measures to ensure access to food of the most needy.

23. FAO, together with other Rome-based food and agriculture organizations4, and other international agencies concerned, are, themselves, stakeholders in the IAAH. They should be encouraged to work together with the IAAH and national alliances to provide joint support to promising initiatives and building upon initiatives that are currently underway.

24. The IAAH would build on and/or coordinate with existing UN and other international mechanisms, for instance, the UN System Network on Rural Development and Food Security, which is managed by FAO in close collaboration with IFAD, WFP and the International Land Coalition5. The Network focuses on practical country-level undertaken by national Thematic Groups in collaboration with ministries, UN agencies, NGOs/CSOs, academic institutions, etc.


25. The aims of the IAAH and its constituent national alliances would be achieved through a variety of activities/functions including:


26. The IAAH would be a voluntary association of national (and regional) alliances of both developing and developed countries, international institutions and individuals. Alliance members would be recognised for their actions and strong commitment to eradicating hunger and poverty. They would agree to collaborate with each other on well-defined strategies and programmes, and bring their strengths to bear within an overall division of labour.


27. No new organizational structures would be established for the IAAH. However, members would be expected to contribute staff and/or modest financial resources to the establishment of an effective coordinating capacity to be hosted by one of the members. Services provided would relate to strengthening of consensus and action amongst members on strategies for hunger reduction through activities listed in paragraph 25, including organisation of occasional meetings of the Alliance.

28. Meetings of the IAAH could be organized jointly by the Rome-based food and agriculture organizations (regularly or occasionally) “back-to-back” with sessions of the CFS once every two years.

29. A report of the IAAH meeting would be submitted to the subsequent session of the CFS.


30. The Committee may wish to endorse the aims, guiding principles and activities of the IAAH, taking account of the proposals contained in paragraphs 18 – 25 above.

31. The Committee may wish to express a view on the membership and modalities for servicing the IAAH, as well as on meetings of the IAAH and reporting to the CFS. It may wish to advise on the frequency of such meetings and reporting.

32. The establishment and operation of the IAAH, even if kept to a minimum and taking into account the close cooperation between the Rome-based food and agriculture organizations, may entail additional resource requirements for meetings and supporting documents. The CFS may wish to indicate funding options, including extra-budgetary sources.

33. The 2003 World Food Day theme will be the IAAH. Special events will be organized at national and international levels in close collaboration with the FAO World Food Day and Telefood Secretariat. Member countries and stakeholders are invited to organize national forum, promote a process of dialogue and policy advocacy and create/strengthen alliances against hunger.


1 The Director-General, in his Note Verbale, G/DG-68 of 3 September 3003, identifies stakeholders as “diverse institutions and individuals, who recognize the feasibility and urgency of making progress towards the reduction of hunger, and who are committed to encouraging their peers and an array of national institutions to do more towards reducing hunger. Such a forum … might include representatives of Government Ministries or Departments (including decentralised structures) concerned with agriculture and food security issues, civic leaders, and representatives of parliamentary committees on agriculture, farmers’orgazations, chambers of commerce, business associations, private companies, political associations, religious groups, relevant academic institutions, non-governmental organizations, civil society organizations, the FAO Naional Committee, and private individuals, among others”.

2 The NGO Forum, held in parallel with the WFS: fyl, includes social movements as stakeholders.

3 For example, by providing an “IAAH label” to initiatives which are consistent with these guiding principles.

4 Examples of support activities underway in FAO include hosting the Ad Hoc Unit for the Right to Food Guidelines, the review and updating of National Food Security and Agricultural Development Strategies, expansion of the Special Programme on Food Security, launching of the Anti-Hunger Programme concept, FIVIMS, etc. WFP, as part of the twin-track approach, undertakes targeted programmes including emergency feeding, mother and child health, school feeding, disaster mitigation and asset creation programmes. WFP supports FIVIMS and provides governments and other partner agencies with regularly updated Vulnerability Assessment and Mapping data. IFAD brings their experience of programmes targeted explicitly on the rural poor. IPGRI, as part of the CGIAR, contributes its experience of a community focus towards the conservation of agro-biodiversity

5 Until early 2003, known as the Popular Coalition to Eradicate Hunger and Poverty.