The Right to Food

There is no responsible investment in agriculture without the right to food

News - 10.12.2021

10 December 2021, Rome- Respecting, protecting and fulfilling human rights in and through agricultural investments is essential to end hunger and build resilient food systems. These linkages between the right to adequate food and well-designed investments in the agri-food sector are presented in a policy brief recently released by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

The publication explains how responsible investment in agriculture, through the application of human rights principles throughout the process, can progressively increase people’s access to adequate food, as well as contribute to all the dimensions of food security.

“Responsible investments in agriculture is an effective strategy to reduce poverty in rural areas and to eradicate food insecurity, malnutrition and its root causes”, said Serena Pepino, Right to Food Policy Expert.

Indeed, increased investment in agriculture and agri-food systems has the potential to address one of the most pressing challenges of our time: feeding a growing population in the context of climate change and scarce natural resources. But increasing investment is not enough. Experience shows that some forms of investment carry risks for both people and the environment, impacting negatively on the right to food. Such is the case of investments that violate legitimate tenure rights, use child labour and cause health or safety hazards.

“Ensuring that agricultural investments follow the principles of equity and justice and contribute to sustainable and inclusive development and to the conservation of biodiversity is critical to generate long-term benefits for all” underlined Emma Mcghie, FAO Program Officer.

The brief also highlights how an enabling environment related to responsible investment and business conduct, made of coherent policy, legal and institutional frameworks, is key to bring about change. The brief also stresses the importance of encouraging dialogue between businesses, governments, civil society organizations and communities, in particular ensuring that the voices of the most vulnerable groups are heard. 

Building policies on human rights

The brief provides examples of how the CFS Principles for Responsible Investment in Agriculture and Food Systems (CFS-RAI Principles) can contribute to the implementation of the CFS-Right to Food Guidelines.

 The CFS-RAI Principles are the main global instrument that provides guidance on how agricultural investment should prioritize marginalized groups, such as small-scale fisheries, family farmers, youth and women, as well as address development challenges such as creating decent employment and fostering gender equality.

 The CFS- Right to Food Guidelines are the first attempt by governments to explain what meeting the right to food entails and recommend actions for its realization.

They are the result of broad intergovernmental negotiations that saw the participation of a wide range of stakeholders, and were endorsed by the Committee on World Food Security (CFS).

The CFS-RAI Principles, together with other policy tools such as the Voluntary Guidelines on Food Systems and Nutrition, the Voluntary Guidelines on Tenure (VGGT) and the Small-Scale Fisheries Guidelines (SSF Guidelines) are rooted in the CFS- Right to Food Guidelines.

Crafting a better life

Responsible investments have positively impacted on many households and communities around the world. The new FAO brief showcases the case of an association of women artisans from Aymara communities in the highlights of Puno (Peru).

Through a public investment, the artisans were trained and improved their skills in the management of alpaca´s wool. So their products have been diversified and marketed in nine countries, in line with the traditions of the Aymara culture.

Now the artisans use the income generated by the sales to finance their agricultural activities, for instance to buy seeds or rent agricultural machinery. This has improved their capacity to produce food for self-consumption and the food security of their families.

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