On the 23rd of May the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) hosted a conference on global food security under the title “Food for Everyone: Towards a Global Deal”. The purpose of the event was to explore and understand the issue of food security and propose solutions supporting the achievement of the MGDs.
With close to one billion people worldwide suffering from hunger1, and a much higher number from malnutrition, food security is again placed high on the political agenda. It is no longer solely associated with underweight and hunger but also with the rapidly increasing burden of overweight and micronutrient deficiencies (the double burden). Further, it is increasingly becoming an urban problem.
With these considerations in mind, on the 23rd of May the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) hosted a conference on global food security under the title “Food for Everyone: Towards a Global Deal”. The purpose of the event was to explore and understand the issue of food security and propose solutions supporting the achievement of the MGDs. Staffan Nilsson (President, EESC) chaired the event with panellists including Dacian Cioloş (Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, European Commission), Hafez Ghanem (Assistant Director-General of Economic and Social Development Department, Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations) and Olivier De Schutter (United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food).
In 2009 Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) projected a need for a 70% increase in food production by 2050. However, it was emphasised by participants that geographical considerations must be given to such increase. It was further underlined by Davian Cioloş, that ‘we are not going to solve the food security issues if we merely increase production in the EU/West’. Price volatility, as a result of commodity speculation, is currently high on the G20’s agenda. But, it was concluded that the issue of global food security needs to be seen in a much boarder perspective and addressed in all its complexity. Especially, the context of climate change and energy security (bio fuels) must be given consideration.
The most recurring conclusions of the discussion included a need for coherence between agricultural, trade and development policies and it was stressed that returning to a protectionist paradigm is no solution. There was a general call for stakeholder inclusion in the decision making process and reinvestment in agriculture, with a special focus on smallholder farmers, gender inequality and the youth. Emphasis was given to the right to food and improving financial and physical access to adequate quality foods world wide, through mechanisms such as the establishment of links between local producers and markets and improving rural infrastructure. Many other issues shaped the discussion such as personal and organisational capacity building, food waste and storage issues, unsustainable consumption and the consumption of meat, transport, water and bio fuels.
It is evident that stakeholder inclusion, cross sectional cooperation and policy coherence is key to addressing global food security. It is not an easy task and especially coherence and consistency of policies will be difficult to negotiate within the current framework of the WTO.
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