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International Policy Process

Picture Credit: UN Photo
There is broad global agreement on the need for policy initiatives to address the world's hunger crisis and the danger of major food-production shortfalls.  But there is deep disagreement over how the international policymaking process should work, under whose auspices it should be organized, and who are the legitimate actors that should participate.  Several different policy venues compete for primacy: the Rome-based Committee on World Food Security (CFS) and its Global Strategic Framework, the UN Secretary General's High Level Task Force on the Food Crisis and its Comprehensive Framework for Action, the World Bank-administered Global Agriculture and Food Security Programme (GAFSP) and the L'Aquila Food Security Initiative of the G8.   Powerful states and agro-industrial companies shop among venues, seeking forums that do not question trade inequities, market-based solutions, industrial-type agricultural models, and similar policy preference.  However, an influential global movement has arisen to promote the views of small producers, fisher folks, urban poor, and generally men and women most affected by hunger. The documents presented here provide commentary on the debate over global food security policy and how policymaking can be most effectively, democratically and sustainably organized.



UN Documents

This document contains many proposals to eradicate hunger and malnutrition. It is based on the experiences and political work of social movements, NGOs and others from all over the world. Premised largely on the food sovereignty framework , it embraces the human right to adequate food. It is signed by over 250 organizations. (

Global Agricultural and Food Security Program: A Framework Document (2009)

The Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP) is proposed as a multilateral finance mechanism to assist in the implementation of pledges affirmed by the Summit of the G20 in Pittsburgh in September 2009. This document was prepared by a World Bank Group team, with inputs from staff of the International Fund for Agricultural Development, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Food Programme among other agencies and individuals. Provided here is also a "Questions and Answers" document. (The World Bank)

High Level Task Force for Action on the Global Food Security Crisis: Comprehensive Framework for Action (CFA)

The Comprehensive Framework for Action (CFA) was produced in 2008 in response to the world food crisis. This report gathers a set of medium and long term actions unanimously agreed upon by UN and Bretton Wood multilateral agencies. An updates CFA has been prepared for release in mid-2010.

L'Aquila Food Security Initiative

This Initiative came out of the G8 meeting in L'Aquila, Italy in 2009. It is endorsed by the G8 and 25 other countries as well as other UN and Bretton Woods organizations.

IAASTD REPORT: Executive Summary of the Synthiesis Report (2009)

The IASSTD Report (International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development), addresses how to make better use of agricultural science, knowledge and technology in order to reduce hunger and poverty, improve rural livelihoods and encourage sustainable development. This summary provides a brief outline of the main areas covered by the comprehensive report - bioenergy, biotechnology, climate change, and global trade. It also provides a link to where more documents related to the report, including the full report itself, can be found.

Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN (FAO): Committee on Food Security

The Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program

The Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP) is a framework for funding and cooperation.. Many African nations are working to align their agricultural policy with the recommendations of CAADP, one of which is to commit ten percent of national budgets to agriculture. Many wonder whether the program will really foster national food security, or continue to promote export-oriented agricultural production.



FIAN Concerned about Opposition to Peasants Rights Declaration (August 2, 2013)

The first session of an intergovernmental working group for drafting a UN declaration on the rights of peasants took place in July. FIAN, an international human rights organization advocating the realization of the right to adequate food, expresses concern over opposition to a declaration. The organization reports that the USA, Japan, Korea and several EU member states doubt the necessity of a declaration protecting peasants specifically. FIAN underlines that peasants are one of the most vulnerable and marginalized groups in the world and that all states should contribute to their protection. (FIAN International)

The 20th Anniversary of La Via Campesina (June 10, 2013)

La Via Campesina, an international peasants organization promoting small-scale sustainable agriculture and peasants’ rights celebrates its 20th anniversary. Since its foundation, it has grown to represent 200 million farmers all around the world in 150 member organizations from 70 countries. The central themes of La Via Campesina are sustainability, food sovereignty and human rights. The organization emphasizes the role of women and youth in agriculture and opposes neo-liberal agricultural policies. In celebration of the anniversary, the organization has published a book of reflections from various members of the organization. (La Via Campesina)

New UN Initiative Encourages Somalis Abroad to Invest in Farming Projects Back Home (February 4, 2013)

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has announced a new initiative to encourage diaspora investment in agriculture in Somalia. The program aims to generate food and rural job security in a country where conflict, drought and high food prices have weakened the agricultural system. Somalia has suffered from severe food shortages in the past, and thousands of people died in July 2011 as a result of a national food crisis. IFAD will offer a grant of $1.5 million to finance diaspora projects that hope to leverage more than $1 billion to be sent to the country annually by Somalis living abroad. The Diaspora Investment in Agriculture (DIA) initiative, which is supported by the government, estimates that the remittances will equal up to 50% of the country’s gross domestic product. (All Africa)

Resolving the Food Crisis: the Need for Decisive Action (January 30, 2013)

A year after the Global Development and Environment Institute (GDAE) published the report "Resolving the Food Crisis," the authors argue that states and international organizations have not done enough to address global food insecurity. They examine the policy reforms adopted in 2012 to confront the underlying causes of the food crisis. Although governments and international bodies made positive steps and promises to confront issues such biofuel expansion, land grabbing and food speculation, many policies have been shelved and goals have not been met.  With the G8 and the G20 meeting this year, a renewed mandate for the UN’s trade organization and a new farm legislation being finalized by the EU and the US, the GDAE calls for governments and the international community to use these opportunities to take more affirmative action. They warn that the avoidance of deeper policy reforms leaves the world vulnerable to further crisis.(Al Jazeera)

War on Want and the IF campaign (January 25, 2013)

The “If Campaign” has been launched in the run up to the UK’s presidency of the G8 and seeks to appoint world hunger as the principal focus of the summit. Part of the campaign revolves around the Prime Minister David Cameron as a leader of the fight against hunger. Cameron co-chairs the UN’s HLP of eminent persons on the post-2015 development agenda and held a hunger event at the end of the London 2012 Olympics. However, War on Want and several other progressive development organizations have refused to engage with the If campaign because of Cameron’s prominence. They oppose the “false image” of the prime minister and argue that his austerity measures in the UK are leading more and more people into poverty and his foreign policies are escalating hunger and poverty worldwide. War on Want obtained documents that reveal the government has been planning the If campaign for two years with NGOs with the aim of portraying the Prime Minister as a leader on the world stage. Furthermore, War on Want argue that the campaign ignores the key causal roots of the food crisis, failing to address food sovereignty or engage with farmers movements. (War on Want)

Anti-Hunger Campaign 'If' Launches with Call For G8 to Act (January 22, 2013)

Development agencies and faith groups in the UK are launching a campaign entitled “Enough Food for Everyone If”, which urges David Cameron to use the UK’s presidency of the G8 in June to take positive action against world hunger. The campaign is taking a more radical stance than the “Make Poverty History” campaign during the UK’s last presidency, which concentrated primarily on debt cancellation. The movement focuses on the causal roots of the global food crisis, such as land grabbing, tax evasion and biofuels. These issues significantly exacerbate food insecurity in the global south and if they are successfully addressed could have a major impact on world hunger and poverty. (Guardian)


Industry Pays for Seat at the Food-Policy Table (October 19, 2012)

This recent Reuters’ report sheds light on the increasing influence of the private sector in policy-making at the World Health Organization. WHO now promotes "industry-led self-regulation" as an alternative to legal standard-setting. Leading food and beverage corporations participate in the decision-making of WHO’s approach to nutrition and Coca-Cola, Nestle, and Unilever largely fund projects and conferences. Not to mention that some WHO advisers have strong ties to the industry. Such association is particularly visible in Mexico, the country with both the world’s highest rate of obese adults and the highest consumption of Coca-Cola. While the UN promotes corporate responsibility by championing its Global Compact, this “partnership” with the industry raises serious concerns about the ability of the organization to remain impartial and impervious.(Reuters)

EU to Limit Use of Crop-based Biofuels - Draft Law (September 10, 2012)

The European Union will impose a limit on the use of crop-based biofuels, promising to end all public subsidies for crop-based biofuels after the current legislation expires in 2020. This represents a major shift in Europe’s much criticized biofuel policy. The fact that biofuels compete with food production and are less climate-friendly than initially thought has led policymakers to tacitly admit that the EU’s 2020 biofuel target was flawed to begin with. Instead of just stopping further expansion of unsustainable biofuels eight years away, something should be done about the current volumes of the fuels.

Mozambique's Agricultural Fortunes Rest on a Choice Between Obama and Annan (July 31, 2012)

As Mozambique looks for ways to alleviate rising rural poverty, the country is facing two different agricultural models presented by the G-8 and the Africa Progress Panel. The G-8 model, led by the United States, subsidizes big agribusinesses such as Cargill to invest in underused land and end poverty through “trickle-down” growth. The second model, proposed by Kofi Annan, argues that the pattern of trickle-down growth only increases inequality, and focuses on providing land and agricultural technology to smallholder farmers instead. Mozambique’s agriculture policy should place small farmers at the center, as implementation of the G-8 model will only lead to large-scale land-grabbing and create dependency on foreign agribusiness. (Guardian)

Not Enough: Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security at the Three Summits (June 27, 2012)

The outcomes of the recent Rio+20, G-20 and G-8 summits promote the idea of private sector as the savior to food security for the developing world. Instead of pledging any significant amount of public funding or regulatory reforms that would support more sustainable agriculture and food security, all three summits called for greater private sector investment in agriculture. Over the past decade, the rapid increase in private financial investment funds in agriculture has led to food price volatility, land grabbing and biofuel production with negative social and ecological impact. Coordinated public regulation, rather than voluntary measures championed by the private sector, is needed to meet the challenge of sustainable food security. (Triple Crisis)


WTO Defending an Outdated Vision of Food Security (December 16, 2011)

In this article, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food Olivier de Schutter argues that WTO must prioritize global food security. Trade should complement local production, not justify its abandonment, says De Schutter. He calls on WTO to adopt new policies limiting price volatility and supporting the needs of small-scale farmers, two necessities that “even the G20 has recognized.” (SR Food)

"CAP Reform Must Put an End to Dumping" - UN Expert (October 12, 2011)

UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food Olivier De Schutter has spoken out against the EU's newest Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) proposal, calling it a "50 billion euro contradiction to the EU's commitment to help put the developing world back on its feet." De Schutter warns that generous Western subsidies, endorsed by the CAP reforms, monopolize markets and marginalize small farmers from the Global South.  This makes it impossible for developing world farmers to compete in their home markets. De Schutter argues that "farmers need support," but the CAP reforms must be reassessed if they are to be in line with the universal right to food. (UN OHCHR)

EU Agriculture Policy ‘Still Hurting Farmers in Developing Countries’(October 11, 2011)

Documents leaked to the Trade Justice Network show that Europe's Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) is set to rise by 11% for 2007 – 2013. Subsidies from the CAP will keep commodity prices artificially low, making it impossible for small farmers in the Global South to compete with agribusinesses. Ironically, the CAP reforms are part of the EU's "policy coherence for development," which seeks to ensure that all policies promote growth in developing countries. The EU is set to discuss subsidy proposals from October 10 – 14, 2011. (Guardian)

Africa: Successful Alternatives to Corporate 'Green Revolution' (March 24, 2011)

Outdated 20th century industrial agriculture for Africa benefits those with financial power, rather than small-holder farmers. This article examines the demand for agrofuels, market failures in agriculture and the biopiracy of African biodiversity, as well as alternatives on the ground. The “African Biodiversity Stewardship Recognition Award” promotes the inter-generational transfer of technologies and capacities required to innovatively manage Africa's genetic resources. This initiative recognizes people who make contributions towards the conservation and sustainable use of Africa’s biodiversity. (Pambazuka)

EU Ministers to Ban Fish Discards (March 1, 2011)

Fishermen discard more than 10 per cent of all the fish caught for human consumption. As much as two-thirds of the fish caught in some areas ends up back into the water, usually dead, due to the current EU system of fishing quotas. EU Ministers plan to make the most radical change to fisheries policy in 40 years. A common fisheries policy, reform fishing quotas, means that fishermen do not need to throw away large amounts of their catch. (Guardian)

North Korea Sends SOS to World to Feed its Starving People  (February 11, 2011)

Around 40 North Korean Embassies are asking foreign governments for aid to help feed hungry people close to starvation. China usually provides food supplies in response to requests by North Korea, however China too is facing food shortages due to ongoing drought. Some key food donors make humanitarian aid contractual on the North Korean government's nuclear program and other security issues. Both the US and South Korea have reduced food aid during recent political tensions.  (The Independent)

Backing Out of Commitments: History Repeating Itself  (February 5, 2011)

Countries that make voluntary financial commitments to eradicate hunger often fail to deliver on their promises. This commentary argues that governments back out of commitments because lawmakers are not under sufficient pressure from their constituents. Additionally, there is a low level of public awareness about chronic hunger and malnutrition, the considerable suffering it causes, and the benefits that the eradication of hunger would have for both poor and wealthy nations. NGOs and civil society movements should work together to put pressure on governments to eliminate hunger and ensure world leaders act decisively and are held to account. (Global Food Security and Nutrition Dialogue)

How Much Do Rich Governments Really Worry About Feeding the World  (January 27, 2011)

A recent report by hundreds of scientists presented to the UK government recommends that decision-makers should prioritize food production and food systems on the global political agenda. In 2009, after the global food crisis of 2008, many rich governments committed to solve problems related to agricultural production and output. Eight of the richest nations promised $20 billion over three years for food security and agricultural development, however less than one third of that has actually been allocated to developing countries. Much of those funds have actually not been delivered. (The Economist)


Statement by Olivier De Schutter, Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food  (October 21, 2010)

In his statement on the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Olivier De Schutter, highlighted the current global food situation as one "in which pressures on land and water are increasing at an unprecedented speed." He also drew attention to the fact that each year, 30 million hectares of farmland are lost due to environmental degradation, conversion to industrial use or urbanization. De Schutter encourages states to implement a fair distribution of land, which is efficient in both improving economic growth and empowering of women.

Food Commodities Speculation and Food Price Crises: Regulation to reduce the risks of price volatility (September 2010)

The emerging speculation on food commodities will lead to a speculative bubble, says UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter. Sooner or later the bubble will burst - with people starving as a consequence. Institutions like the IMF, the World Bank, the EU and the UN must recognize that the financial speculation on the food market means gambling with human lives. Legal regulations are needed in order to reduce the risk of price volatility. Moreover, a fundamental reform of the global financial sector is needed. Food should not be regarded as a vehicle of speculative profits, but as an essential human right.

Regulating Financial Markets Key to Ending Global Food Crisis (July 2010)

The global financial crisis and the food crisis cannot be analyzed independently. Thus, any measures to curb food prices will not be successful without financial regulation as well. Non-traditional speculators, such as hedge funds and large banks, create artificial demand for agricultural commodities via commodity indexes and commodity exchanges, contributing to the escalation of food prices. Improving transparency of derivatives trading, limiting speculation by commodity and contract value and banning certain banks and traders from participating in commodity derivatives are some of the suggested changes necessary to decrease food prices and end the global food crisis. (Center for Concern)

The Global Struggle Over Who Will End Hunger (May 27, 2010)

The UN High Level Task Force on global food security met with members of civil society in Dublin, inviting input to the Comprehensive Framework for Action against Hunger (CFA). But civil society organizations were asked for their opinion long after the main document had already been written. International committees on food security in Rome, New York and Washington D.C. continue to disagree on how to rebuild agricultural systems in the Global South. The CFA offers solutions that call for the extension of the very practices that have caused critical food shortfalls in many countries. At this conference, key organizations like Via Campesina refused to attend and sent a scathing letter denouncing the dialogue as an "exercise of style." (Huffington Post)

Africans Face Competing Visions of Agricultural Development at a Critical Juncture (May 20, 2010)

The "aid regime" in sub-Saharan Africa swamps smallholder farmers with the proposed "solutions" from the same toolkit of failed policies endorsed since the 1980s. Powerful multilateral financial institutions, corporations, and government aid agencies collude around an approach to "development" that promotes privatization, deregulation, and the lowering of barriers to trade and foreign capital. This tour de force of philanthropic capitalism makes it difficult for farmer groups to get their voices heard by their national governments and it blocks local priorities from being taken into account. (
This open-letter is addressed to the Dublin meeting of the UN High Level Task Force on Global Food Security March 2010.  The Dublin meeting was convened to update the Comprehensive Framework for Action, and this letter reflects on the participation of civil society. It is signed by 275 organizations representative of small-scale farmers and fisher peoples, pastoralists, women, youth, and indigenous peoples from all over the world.(


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