CFS calls for action against food price volatility and hunger

Improving international efforts in fight against hunger

19 October 2010, Rome - The Committee on World Food Security (CFS) has called for action on key issues related to food security and nutrition such as land tenure and international investment in agriculture, food price volatility and on addressing food insecurity in protracted crises.

The five-day Rome meeting of the high-level intergovernmental body was its first following a reform which aims at making it the cornerstone of the global governance of agriculture and food security.

The deliberations of the committee and its decisions come against a background of increased food price volatility and continuing unacceptably high levels of hunger and malnutrition which have underlined the need for an improved strategic approach to  hunger.

Action on 'land grab' issue

Regarding international investments in agriculture, including the so-called ‘land grab' issue, the Committee "encouraged the continuation of the development of international Voluntary Guidelines on Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land and Other Natural Resources," according to a report published today. The Committee requested its high-level panel of experts to study the respective roles of large-scale plantations and of small-scale farming.

The CFS also decided to start an inclusive process of consideration of the Principles for Responsible Agricultural Investments that Respect Rights, Livelihoods and Resource.

Price volatility and climate change

The CFS has requested its high-level panel of experts to take a close look and make recommendations regarding "causes and consequences of food price volatility, including market distorting practices and links to financial markets, and appropriate and coherent policies, actions, tools and institutions to manage the risks linked to excessive price volatility in agriculture."

The panel's recommendations will consider how vulnerable nations and populations can ensure access to food when volatility causes market disruption, and ways to lessen vulnerability through social and productive safety nets programmes.

Turning to climate change, the CFS agreed to review existing assessments and initiatives on the effects of climate change on food security and nutrition. Focus of the study will be on the most affected and vulnerable regions and populations, including the challenges and opportunities of adaptation and mitigation policies and actions.

Protracted crises and food security

The Committee examined steps forward to address food security in countries plagued by protracted crises caused by conflict or natural disasters. The CFS recommended that emergency responses to those countries be better integrated with long term assistance. At a later stage, the committee will examine the convening of a High Level Expert Forum leading to a Plan of Action for the group of countries in protracted crisis situations.

The CFS also launched a consultative process to develop a global strategic framework for food security and nutrition over the next two years in order to help improve coordination of international efforts in the fight against hunger. Emphasis will be placed on input from the countries and stakeholders most affected by food insecurity.

More inclusive

The CFS meeting has demonstrated  that the spirit of reform has been fully implemented by including many of the key stakeholders in the discussions, said Noel De Luna, Chair of the CFS.

"It's very important that finally member governments have recognised that non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and civil society organizations (CSO) have a role to play institutionally. CSOs are directly in contact with the people going hungry and living in poverty and they are able to bring that reality to the discussions," he added.

Kostas Stamoulis, Secretary of the Committee said: "The positive and constructive atmosphere was critical in achieving results - member governments and all the other stakeholders were engaged in genuine dialogue to reach a consensus on key food security and nutrition policy issues".

Chris Leather of Oxfam, a member of the CFS Advisory Group, said: "It's refreshing that CSOs are able to engage in discussions on an equal footing with governments and other stakeholders and are able to influence outcomes".

Photo: ©FAO/Giulio Napolitano
Governments and other stakeholders discussed key food security and nutrition policy issues.