UN countries began to find common ground on some important and deep-seated problems contributing to global hunger, at a meeting of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) that ends in Rome tomorrow.
International agency Oxfam said that the CFS – which has long been undermined by scepticism and squabbling by some of its members – had made a break with its past in agreeing a common plan to tackle global hunger. “Civil society organizations were more prominent in helping the CFS begin to transform itself from a talk-shop to a work-shop,” said Oxfam spokesperson Chris Leather.
“This is a reason for hope on the eve of World Food Day. However the CFS still needs much more high-level participation – including from institutions like the World Bank and the private sector – so that it can drive better policies and coordinated action to solve world hunger. We’ve seen a good start – but it’s only a start.”
The agency singled out land grabbing and food price volatility as two of the most critical global issues that would test whether the CFS could really deliver meaningful change. There was some progress on both of these issues but also indications that more political will is needed to tackle them properly, with binding agreements.
Governments worked constructively on tackling the problem of food price volatility. “They acknowledged that excessive speculation is a problem and that work was needed on the impacts of climate change adaptation and mitigation policies on food security,” Leather said. “The CFS also made an important decision to ask the independent High Level Panel of Expert to make science-based recommendations to inform its policy decisions next year.”
The CFS agreed to move quickly to ensure that land laws should protect the interests of poor people against the phenomenon of huge land grabs that are transforming the agricultural landscape. “It is encouraging that governments appear to be taking responsibility. But Oxfam remains concerned that poor people remain at risk and more needs to be done sooner."
Oxfam welcomed helpful interventions from rich countries such as the UK, US and Australia that have in the past been sceptical about the CFS, suggesting that they are joining the EU and Brazil, to find global solutions to global problems. The constructive engagement by developing countries such as Cameroon and Tanzania was important to ensure the meeting reflected the views of those countries most affected by hunger.
"Thanks to reforms carried out last year, governments agreed that the CFS should become the highest international political authority on food security. This progress is only the first step,” said Leather. “The question remains whether the countries have the political will to implement the measures once they have been agreed. They must deliver results in time for the CFS meeting in October next year.”
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