All roads lead to Rome for the UN’s Committee on World Food Security. Morgane Danielou previews the action.

Morgane Danielou

From 15-20 October, watchful eyes will be on Rome as the UN World Committee on Food Security (CFS) holds its annual session at the FAO headquarters. As an intergovernmental body, it serves as a forum for review and follow up of food security policies. Following a turbulent year for food security, in particular the US and African droughts, the CFS will look to address these crises, as well as long-term structural issues.

The CFS was reformed in 2009 to bring together all stakeholders involved in food security worldwide, in particular civil society and the private sector. As a private sector representative at the CFS, my role is to provide policy advice on the role of private sector in helping promote food security, specifically on how to encourage private investment in agriculture and rural development.

Significant progress has already been made by the CFS in facilitating country-initiated assessments on sustainable food production and food security, namely in its encouragement for countries to adopt the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forest in the Context of National Food Security. The next step will be to further ongoing-discussions on responsible agricultural investment in the framework of the CFS.

Food needs finance

Agriculture is in desperate need of capital investment, especially if we are to feed 10 billion people in 2050. Over the past five years we have seen the world hit by a series of economic, financial and food crises. Today, price volatility and extreme weather have continued to undermine global efforts to reduce poverty and hunger, pushing livelihood resilience and food and nutrition security to the centre of government policy agendas.

Smallholder farmers must be at the centre of these agendas, focusing investment on sustainable agricultural practices, rural infrastructure, regional markets, storage capacities and related technologies, cooperatives and value chains will help to achieve this.

Increased investment in agriculture means we must prioritise value chains or regions for increased public-private investment, as well as access to credit. We must remove the barriers to investment, particularly through innovative financing mechanisms, such as local bond markets that raise funds for agricultural infrastructure.

Many countries are lacking intellectual property protection policies to protect and reward innovators, as well as mechanisms for enforcement, access to resources and technology, and investment will be crucial to achieving this. Furthermore, increased investment is needed to strengthen the capacity of smallholder farmers (particularly women) through extension, financing, information access, market linkages, organizing support, and property rights.

Protection and governance

Aside from investment, more attention must be paid to the immediate needs of those who lack the necessary purchasing power to meet their food and nutrition requirements, especially women and children.

Household-level vulnerability to poverty and hunger is most often associated with threats to livelihoods. This vulnerability can increase over time if households face repeated shocks. It is crucial there is social protection and ‘safety nets’ to reduce vulnerability, which not only meet immediate needs, often arising from natural disasters or conflicts, but also contribute to reducing uncertainty and improve agricultural productivity. It should be the case for every country to install a comprehensive social protection plan that seeks to address structural poverty and food insecurity. As a process, this should be country-led with the active participation of local communities.

Effective food security governance ultimately requires integration and coordination among countries, organisations and other stakeholders at both the local and global levels. The CFS enables the foundations to be laid to start implementing policies that are fully integrated into national development priorities and strategies and to ultimately work towards a greatly improved global food system.

More information about the CFS’s 39th Session can be hound here, including a list of relevant documents.

The CFS is now made up of twelve Member States, the three UN Rome-based agencies – the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP) – and international agricultural research systems, and financial institutions. In addition, civil society and non-governmental organizations, and the private sector have been particularly active through the organization of large-scale global consultation mechanisms: the civil society mechanism (CSM) and the private sector mechanism (PSM).

About Morgane Danielou

Morgane Danielou currently serves as private sector representative at the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS), where she coordinates the input of over a hundred business entities through the private sector mechanism, on behalf of the International Agrifood Network. Her direct affililation is with the International Fertilizer Industry Association where she holds the position of Director of Communications.  Morgane is also co-chair of the Farming First coalition.

Morgane’s professional background is in international agricultural development. Prior to her current role, she worked for the World Bank and the International Food Policy Research Institute in Washington DC, where she was involved in agricultural projects, mostly in Africa. She gained her field experience in Latin America in the Amazon basin where she worked for local NGOs on commercializing sustainable forest products.

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