FAO/IFAD/WFP call upon G20 to redouble efforts to fight hunger

Joint statement published for G20 summit in Mexico

19 June 2012, Rome - The UN food agencies based in Rome have expressed the wish that G20 leaders meeting in Mexico redouble their efforts to fight hunger. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP) have issued the following statement on the occasion of the G20 Summit in Mexico:

FAO-IFAD-WFP - Joint Statement at the outset of the G20 Summit

1. We, the United Nations food and agriculture agencies - FAO, IFAD and WFP - welcome the priority given to food and nutrition security by the Mexican Presidency of the G20, keeping it at the forefront of the global development agenda in line with the Seoul Multi-Year Action Plan, building on G20 efforts under previous presidencies, and complementing actions taken within the G8 this year and since the L'Aquila summit.

2. We welcome the continuing recognition by the G20 of the pivotal role of smallholder agriculture to global food security and to boosting productivity in a sustainable manner. And we urge for food and nutrition security to remain prominent on the G20 agenda in the coming years.

3. Food and nutrition security is a common thread linking the diverse elements needed to build a peaceful, stable and sustainable future. Food and nutrition security must be at the center of the sustainable development agenda. This is a message that the United Nations food and agriculture agencies are jointly taking to Rio+20, with particular focus on smallholder agriculture.

4. Food security is closely linked to other issues on the agenda of G20- such as infrastructure development and restoring growth in countries in crisis. In the past few years we have seen how food insecurity can trigger instability and crisis, and the major toll that the latter can take on food security in return. We now know that food insecurity can have a long-lasting negative impact on the growth prospects of entire societies. This suggests that attention to food security needs to be maintained-perhaps especially so - in times of financial crisis and uncertainty.

5. Another lesson from recent crises, such as that affecting the Horn of Africa, is that we need to move away from a dichotomy between humanitarian and development assistance. We are already working in that direction.

6. Linking targeted social safety nets, cash transfers and cash for work programs with support to small-scale farmers is one example of how to promote win-win approaches that help build the social fabric and virtuous cycles of local development. By leveraging local food procurement and public-private partnerships through programmes such as the Purchase for Progress (P4P) initiative, hundreds of thousands of small farmers can connect to markets. Initiatives such as Purchase from Africa to Africans (PAA) can successfully link small-scale production to social programmes.

7. Only through sustained efforts and the integration and realigning of emergency, relief and development programmes will we enable communities to build resilience to recurring climatic shocks. We see boosting resilience as part of sustainable development, not limited to shock-prone areas. This speaks to a range of issues on the G20 agenda, including social protection, financial inclusion, and more sustainable agriculture and food systems. To that end, we call on the G20 to support the African Risk Capacity, a regional risk pooling facility for drought management led by the African Union.

8. Productivity growth - notably in smallholder agriculture - is a key component of more resilient and sustainable food systems. Also important, however, is reducing food losses and waste - currently close to1.3 billion tonnes, or more than one-third of food we produce. Reducing this wastage and loss could make a serious dent in the global number of undernourished people, while reducing pressure on natural resources such as land, water and biodiversity.

9. Today, around 900 million women and men are undernourished. Most are in Asia and in Africa. In the face of this dramatic reality, we express the wish that G20 leaders redouble their efforts to fight hunger. We are fully committed to working with them and others to support nationally and regionally-led efforts in achieving food and nutrition security for all women, men and children, in line with the Five Rome Principles. Given the higher prevalence of undernourishment in rural areas, the latter will often need particular attention.

10. Efforts to boost agricultural productivity, services, infrastructure and markets are most needed at the local, national and regional levels. Across the developing world, special focus is needed on building the capacity of 500 million small farmers to invest in producing more and better food, through sustainable practices and appropriate technologies, so they can better feed themselves and their societies. At the policy level this requires keeping the goals of productivity growth and of sustainability together, putting in place enabling conditions and supportive investments for smallholders - women and men - to operate at their full potential.

11. Last year, the United Nations food and agriculture agencies contributed to an international organizations' report to the G20 recommending policy responses to food price volatility. This report has led to a number of initiatives undertaken with G20 sponsorship - such as the Agricultural Market Information System, the Rapid Response Forum, the Tropical Agriculture Platform, and others. Other initiatives, like the Platform for Agriculture Risk Management, are still evolving. Export restrictions are being removed for WFP's humanitarian food purchases.

12. The first recommendation in last year's report was to boost sustainable and resilient productivity growth in agriculture, especially in smallholder agriculture. This year's international organizations' report focuses on this topic. It recommends greater investment and better coordination in research and development, innovation systems and advisory services. More importantly it calls for more help to producers to adopt and benefit from existing technology. It also recommends developing smallholder-inclusive business models and undertaking policy reforms and complementary public investments to incentivize and de-risk smallholder-inclusive private investment.

13. The report recognizes that enabling smallholders to fulfill their potential for sustainable productivity growth requires their integration into well-functioning markets on fair, efficient and sustainable terms. It thus recommends developing inclusive value chains, improving infrastructure, and strengthening market institutions so that they work better for farmers.

14. Worldwide, women are drivers of change. It is critical to invest in women. The empowerment, education and equality of women are fundamental to improved food security, sustainable development and economic growth.

15. And so is assuring that all smallholders have secure access to productive resources. In this regard, we welcome the continued support of the G20 to the Principles for Responsible Agricultural Investment. We express the wish that similar support will be given by the G20 to the country-level adoption and implementation of the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Forests and Fisheries in the Context of National Food Security, recently endorsed by the Committee of World Food Security after intense consultations and negotiations between governments, civil society and private sector.

16. Finally, building a sustainable future requires broad partnerships, supporting developing country governments in their leading role and mobilizing around that the commitment of international agencies, civil society, the private sector and the wider humanitarian and development community. Ensuring food and nutrition security also demands inclusive partnerships. This is something to which we are fully committed in our own work.

17. Under the Mexican presidency the G20 has made new and significant efforts to reach out to other stakeholders, whether in civil society, private sector (including the B20), or government. We welcome these efforts and we view them also as precious opportunities for new partnerships to emerge to pursue global food and nutrition security, including all key stakeholder groups, starting with farmers.

Photo: ©FAO/Olivier Asselin
Smallholder agriculture is pivotal to global food security and boosting productivity.