CFS meeting must face up to high food prices and end the inaction on hunger

With abnormally high food prices and slowing efforts to tackle global hunger, the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) must now energize governments to begin fixing the broken global food system, at its annual meeting in Rome from Oct 15 – 20.

The meeting follows last week’s release of the State of Food Insecurity in the World 2012 report which revealed that nearly 870 million people are chronically undernourished, and global progress in reducing hunger has stalled.

This comes less than two weeks after governments definitively ruled out convening a meeting of the Rapid Response Forum – the body created by the G20 in 2011 to coordinate the global response to rising food prices – despite food prices remaining abnormally high.

Oxfam spokesperson Luca Chinotti said that the CFS could take vitally important steps toward a more equitable, sustainable and resilient food system at this meeting.

“With the number of hungry people more than the populations of the US, EU and Canada combined and set to increase with climate change, the rush to buy-up agricultural land and food price spikes, poor people cannot afford for governments to squander another chance to fix the broken food system,” Chinotti said. 

“The CFS annual meeting takes place against a bleak backdrop of slowing progress in reducing the number of hungry people. However it can turn the situation around if governments show leadership and ambition,” Chinotti said.

“While the pressure is on the CFS, it is uniquely equipped to listen to the voices of people impacted by hunger, notably small scale food producers, and provide the bold and coordinated action needed to turn this situation around.

“Increasing temperatures, changing rainfall patterns and extreme weather events are devastating food production around the world. Governments at the CFS must ensure their climate change policies work towards eliminating hunger and achieving the right to food for all.

“The CFS needs to increase poor people’s resilience to the food price volatility that is becoming a fixture of our food system by scaling up social protection programs and by boosting food reserves,” Mr Chinotti said.

Oxfam is also calling on the CFS to formally adopt the ‘Global Strategic Framework’ that it developed in July. This is the most comprehensive set of actions agreed by its member governments that, if implemented, will bring us closer to a world without hunger.

While a global food crisis has been narrowly averted in 2012, growing national and regional food crises continue to devastate lives and livelihoods of poor people. In Yemen, 10 million people – almost half the population – do not have enough food to eat. The situation is set to worsen as the country imports 90 per cent of its wheat at extremely high prices. 

“G20 governments missed an opportunity to mobilize the Rapid Response Forum to act on high and volatile food prices, but governments at the CFS must start the transformation toward a more equitable, sustainable and resilient food system.”

Notes to editors

To read all of Oxfam’s recommendations for the CFS annual meeting, and further analysis of current food prices and hunger levels, read Oxfam’s media advisory ‘Summer of high food prices and hot air: CFS meeting crucial in fighting hunger’ (pdf, 399kb).

Contact information

Oxfam spokespeople are available for interview in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and German as well as Luca Chinotti who is in Rome at the CFS Annual Meeting. For interviews or further information, please contact Gabriele Carchella on +39 320 4777 895.