To facilitate preparation of a U.S. Action Plan on Food Security
October 16, 1997
paper is compiled by U.S. Government staff drawing on
It is for discussion purposes only and does not represent any new government policy.
|II.||Appropriate Research, Education and Extension for Food Production and Food Systems|
|III.||Measuring Hunger and Mapping Risk|
|IV.||Economic Policy, Trade, and Food Distribution|
|V.||Prioritizing the Allocation of Foreign Assistance to Promote Food Security|
|VI.||Effective Use of Food Aid to Promote Food Security|
|VII.||Maximizing and Targeting Resources|
|VIII.||Human Rights as a Framework for Food Security|
The World Food Summit in Rome in November 1996 focused the world's attention on the chronic problem of hunger and malnutrition, as well as the potential for increasingly acute food shortages in Africa and South Asia. Today, around the world more than 800 million people go hungry. In the United States, more than 20 million people at any given time rely on food assistance programs to assure their food security. Cereal imports by developing countries have more than doubled since the 1970's and are expected to continue growing. Global population is growing by nearly 100 million a year, but global food stocks have declined and emergency food aid needs are likely to double in the next decade. Steps must be taken now, if we are to avert future disasters.
Sub-Saharan Africa is the most dramatic illustration of the need to act urgently. No longer self-sufficient as a continent, Africa now depends increasingly on food imports to keep pace with its three percent annual population growth rate. Neither grain yields nor economic growth have kept up with population growth. Political conflicts, natural disasters, accelerating environmental degradation, and government policies that penalize the agricultural and other food sectors have added to the steady decline in per capita food output. Because their economies were largely stagnant during the 1980's and early 1990's, many African nations dependent on imported food are straining to pay world market prices. Other areas of the world also have concerns about food security. Malnutrition is chronic in large parts of South Asia. North Korea is facing an acute threat of starvation.
It is now broadly recognized that food security incorporates not only the traditional idea of ensuring adequate food availability, but also the need to create the social and economic conditions which empower individuals to gain access to food, either by producing food themselves or earning income to buy food. Effective and efficient utilization of food is also considered an essential component of food security today. Addressing food security, therefore, requires comprehensive measures that integrate ongoing assistance in several areas:
The U.S. Response
In response to the renewed concern about global food security, the United States decided to mount a concerted effort to develop a long-range action plan to follow up on the results of the World Food Summit. Global food security is of critical strategic interest to the United States for humanitarian, political, and economic reasons. American firms, cooperatives, foundations, non-profit groups and all levels of government have a great capacity to mitigate hunger. America has a long humanitarian tradition of providing food to the needy at home, through public and private agencies, and of supporting international efforts to do so. The United States food security capacity, demonstrated so ably over the past half century, needs to be sustained to meet the challenges facing us in the early part of the next century.
The Interagency Working Group that had been formed to prepare for the World Food Summit, therefore, was extended to manage the follow-on effort and two sub-groups were established: one to work on the international portion of the action plan and the other to work on the domestic portion. After six months of consultations with interested groups in civil society and the private sector, the U.S. Government began an extensive assessment of various policies, programs, and other mechanisms that it brings to bear on food security both at home and abroad. The basic frame of reference for this assessment was the outline of issues and possible actions that had been developed in the National Consultations held on May 21, 1997 with interested non-governmental groups.
In the interests of facilitating further public input to the action plan, the Interagency Working Group decided to release the discussion paper on international topics for public comment first and to follow with a similar paper on domestic topics roughly a month later.
The following discussion of possible actions, therefore, represents initial thoughts on steps that could be taken by the United States to address a variety of concerns about international food security raised in the course of the National Consultations. Public comment is invited at a meeting to be held November 5 in Washington, D.C. at the USDA Administration Building, Room 107A from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Written comments may be sent to:
Special Representative for Food Security
U.S. Department of State, Room 5332
2201 C Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20520
II. Appropriate Research, Education and Extension for Food Production and Food Systems
Economically, Environmentally, and Socially Sustainable Food Production
There is broad consensus that the global food and agricultural system has the potential to continue producing enough food to increase per capita availability as world population increases. Whether this potential is realized, however, depends on maintaining and further strengthening the capacity of developed and developing, food-surplus and food-deficit countries to continue creating, disseminating and adopting new and appropriate technology. That is, it depends on adequate investment in research, education and extension capacity here in the United States and in the developing countries of the world. Growth in public investment in agricultural and other food-related research in the U.S. and globally has declined significantly in recent years. The developing countries invest much less in agricultural research both in absolute amount and a proportion of agricultural gross domestic product (GDP). In both developed and developing countries, research expenditure as a percentage of GDP has declined in the last two decades. Funding for the international agricultural research system has also declined. The U.S. Government's assistance, primarily through USAID, to agricultural and other food-related research, extension and education institutions in developing countries has declined significantly. If this underinvestment continues, the capacity of the global food and agricultural systems to meet the challenge of the next 25 years will be threatened.
Much is already being done by public institutions, the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the private sector of the U.S. to contribute to international food security by strengthening U.S. and developing country research, education and extension capacities. USDA's Research, Education and Economics agencies, the Forest Service, the Agricultural Marketing Service, the Foreign Agriculture Service and other federal agencies host scientists and educators from developing countries, conduct collaborative programs and provide technical and institutional assistance, often funded by USAID. The State University and Land Grant College System has developed an agenda for internationalizing their curricula, extension programs and research -- Globalizing Agricultural Science and Education Programs for America (GASEPA). A coalition of Land Grant Universities (GREAN), committed to furthering international agricultural research, is collaborating with a regional association of the National Institutions of Agricultural Research of the six southern cone countries of Latin America (PROCISUR) on a program of research of mutual interest. Similar initiatives exist in the private sector and the NGO community.
With respect to U.S. agricultural research, extension and education capacity:
1. The U.S. Government could consider ways to strengthen its commitment and support for public-sector agricultural and other food related research dedicated to increasing the efficiency, productivity, viability and long-term sustainability of U.S. agriculture. Efforts will continue to reduce duplication and strengthen the complementarity of the public and private sectors in conduct of agricultural research and technology. The State Universities and Land Grant Colleges will continue efforts to "internationalize" their undergraduate and graduate curricula, extension programs and research priorities. This effort will include formation of effective partnerships with institutions of higher education, extension and research in developing countries.
In support of national and international research, extension and education in developing countries, the U.S. Government could consider:
1. seeking appropriate partnerships to strengthen both public and private research and technology capacity in developing countries;
2. increasing funding of international agricultural research institutes through the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR);
3. contributing to development of a cadre of agricultural and fisheries scientists and educators, beyond those already provided by the Collaborative Research Support Programs (CRSP), to strengthen national research systems, and to support efforts to organize regional research and education programs and facilities to attack shared problems and to develop coordinated programs in support of food security;
4. making available to the developing countries additional technical and institutional expertise of the USDA and the State Universities, Land Grant Colleges, Sea Grant University System, and private universities, both independently and in collaboration with the World Bank and other multinational institutions and through appropriate public/private partnerships:
a) to honor its commitments to existing CRSPs, which build the capacities of specific U.S. institutions.
b) to initiate a complementary competitive grants program that places more emphasis on enhancing the contributions of individual specialists in addressing priority themes.
c) to contribute to a multi-national effort to establish and maintain a multi-lingual, geographically-indexed Internet web site to disseminate to developing country researchers and extension personnel "best practices" for crop, livestock, fishery and forestry production and marketing, resource formulation and implementation. Initially this site may be a directory with "live" links to web sites of U.S. research and educational institutions.
The U.S. Government could also consider specific actions to be undertaken in collaboration with other public and private institutions in support of sustainable food production systems and food security, such as:
1. research to develop a framework for linking data and analysis on food production, trade, income, consumption, and natural resources in an integrated food insecurity and vulnerability information and mapping system.
2. enhancing and sharing capacity to develop and use climate information both for early warning to mitigate extreme climate events (such as droughts and floods) and to facilitate adaptation to more gradual changes in temperature, precipitation, and other climatic conditions.
3. actions to better conserve and sustainably utilize plant genetic resources (in accordance with the Global Plan of Action adopted by the International Technical Conference on Plant Genetic Resources) and animal genetic resources.
4. research on and provision of access to cutting edge technology, including biotechnology, in support of plant and animal production.
5. actively encouraging and financially supporting a higher priority on biotechnology research within the CGIAR centers' research programs.
6. supporting the Farmer to Farmer program, through which volunteer consultants from the U.S. agricultural sector work directly with small and medium-sized farmers in developing countries to solve problems through locally appropriate technologies and management strategies.
7. encouraging the private not-for-profit foundations that have historically played such an important role in international agricultural research to reassert their leadership in this critical area and undertake to leverage their efforts by facilitating joint activities with government institutions.
8. encouraging a) wider membership in the CGIAR and b) employment of developing world scientists in CGIAR research programs.
In support of sustainable food, agricultural and forestry systems, the United States could consider:
1. targeting and giving priority to research that will add to the knowledge of appropriate, site-specific methods of sustainable agricultural and forest production;
2. developing models for sustainable agriculture and technology transfer programs, such as the USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) and Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas (ATTRA) programs.
3. increasing technology transfer of sustainable agriculture concepts and training professionals in sustainable agriculture so that these methods are included in the regular technology transfer system; and
4. supporting, using and linking farmers and governments with sustainable development extension networks (e.g., UNDP's Sustainable Agriculture Networking and Extension (SANE) program).
III. Measuring Hunger and Mapping Risk
Existing data systems relating to food security and its cause, poverty, are inadequate in a number of respects. In the developing countries (particularly Africa ):
More generally, there are no readily accessible data bases for monitoring performance, for example, in relation to various targets that have already been developed and agreed to in previous world summits and conferences, or to support dialogue on the efficacy of specific policies and policy frameworks. Although prominent international information systems currently exist to provide early warning of transitory food emergencies, public and private sector decision-makers at the local, national, and regional level need a richer information base to identify solutions to structural food insecurity problems and monitor their implementation. Given the critical role information can and does play in managing human, financial, and natural resources, in providing services, and in developing policy, the U.S. Government considers accurate, timely information to be an essential aspect of good governance and economic growth.
The U.S. Government could consider a comprehensive effort on the part of all agencies with relevant interests or capabilities to address these problems in the following ways:
1. join with other countries to support development of a food insecurity and vulnerability information mapping system (FIVIMS) that meets the needs of its users and generates reliable information for decisionmakers at both national and regional levels.
2. work with and through regional/subregional institutions and their member states to improve the capacity of their information systems relevant to food security. For example, USAID will collaborate with the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in East Africa and the donor community in developing a Regional Integrated Information System and USAID could use its Leland initiative to facilitate African countries access to the Global Information Infrastructure (GII). NASA will make a global archive of "Greenness" data available through the Internet as part of the Global Pathfinder Continuation project.
3. work towards a unified international early warning system with global coverage that is oriented around national early warning systems. This would include capacity building in subregional organizations.
4. support enrichment of global early warning information products with climate forecasts through the International Research Institute (IRI) for climate forecasting. The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will also work through the Southern Africa Regional Climate Outlook Forum to provide southern African countries with access to state of the art climate forecast information. This approach may be repeated subsequently in other regions.
5. make early warning information more accessible and useful to private sector users in the developing countries.
6. make relevant unclassified satellite and Geographic Information System (GIS) databases available to food insecure countries.
7. support efforts by the World Bank and other organizations to improve the collection and integration of data on employment, income, food prices, access to resources, resource quality, anthropometric indicators, and other indicators of hunger and food insecurity (additional funding would be required). Among other things, USAID will continue to support the Environmental Information System secretariat of the World Bank and use its AfricaLink project to build linkages that will improve access to information useful to decision-makers.
8. support the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) efforts to develop strategic data bases, converting existing center data holdings into a compatible protocol, and disseminating both to food insecure countries.
9. encourage U.S. universities to project their research results and knowledge base internationally and U.S. NGOs to employ electronic communications technologies more aggressively to reinforce the activities of national extension institutions.
10. support development of an information system that will monitor trade liberalization, e.g. in the wake of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) Uruguay Round, to allow analysis of its effects on food insecure countries.
IV. Economic Policy, Trade and Food Distribution
Economic development and a food distribution system that reaches the broadest possible spectrum of the world's population are essential to achieving sustainable global food security. Even in the wealthiest countries a certain portion of the population does not have the means to purchase adequate food and must rely on public sector support. By and large, however, achieving global food security will depend on a robust private sector and a free market that bring the broadest possible variety of nutritious food to the widest possible number of people at the lowest possible cost. This will require a vigorous global trade system that underpins economic development, provides widespread, reliable access to food -- particularly by countries that are not substantial food producers -- and discourages artificial barriers to food trade, including tariff barriers.
In less developed countries, an enabling economic environment is fundamental to food security. Market-oriented policies provide such an environment for economic growth, which is the major source of poverty alleviation and increased food security. Essential elements of the enabling economic environment include food and agricultural policies that operate in the context of a market-oriented world trade system. Some countries, particularly the low income, food deficit countries (LIFDCs), may require carefully targeted technical assistance and food aid to become full-fledged participants in a food-secure world. Private sector and NGO partnership and support are indispensable to the implementation of appropriate food security policies.
Recognizing the vital contribution that access to the global trade system has made to economic development in Asia and Latin America, the U.S. Government -- to complement the African Growth and Opportunity Act -- has announced a "Partnership for Promoting Economic Growth and Opportunity in Africa." This initiative will emphasize support for Sub-Saharan African countries that are making strong efforts in three areas: trade and investment liberalization, investment in human resources, and improved policy management. U.S. Government policies and programs should be refocused to facilitate this initiative.
The U.S. Government could consider the following measures to enhance the contribution of trade to food security and economic development:
1. seeking fast track authority to permit the U.S. to engage credibly in regional trade agreement negotiations and renewed multilateral negotiations, including on agriculture.
2. ensuring that global trade in genetically modified biotechnology products is free from non-scientifically based restrictions to allow the benefits of this technology (e.g., greater yields and reduced need for pesticides and herbicides) to be shared among all countries for the benefit of food security.
3. implementing the new Facilities Guarantee Program (FGP) to help address the impact of market failures on financing agribusiness infrastructure projects that primarily benefit U.S. agricultural exports.
4. establishing a "one-stop shop" for small and medium-sized companies to acquire information on government programs to facilitate their business in food insecure countries. This would have a counterpart structure in U.S. embassies.
5. considering funding a series of agribusiness opportunity missions to encourage private sector joint venture investment in the food and agricultural sectors of targeted low income food deficit countries in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.
6. continued adaptation of basic export credit guarantee authorities to accommodate changes in agricultural commodity trade and the international financial markets.
7. assessing the priority on agricultural development and food distribution research within USDA agencies and strengthening ties between these agencies and academic institutions.
8. encouraging public-private sector dialogue on developing sustainable regional and global food supply in the next century, such as the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation's (APEC) proposal for an Open APEC Food System and ideas presented by the Commission on International Trade, Development and Cooperation.
9. in the longer term, in cooperation with other nations, reexamining the possibilities of excluding food and agricultural commodities from discriminatory trade regimes and international sanctions.
10. developing a compendium of business principles to serve as a guide for U.S. private sector involvement in food insecure countries.
11. considering expansion of the Cochran Fellowship Program to additional sub-Saharan African countries.
V. Prioritizing the Allocation of Foreign Assistance to Promote Food Security
Global food security is of critical strategic interest to the United States for humanitarian, political stability, and economic reasons. The United States and its government have an enormous capacity to assist in this area. That capacity needs to be revitalized and refocused in order to meet the current challenge.
U.S. international food security activities are pursued not only through trade, but also through a combination of food assistance and development assistance for agricultural development and infrastructure/institutional development. Development assistance interventions in the areas of economic growth, nutrition, health, family planning and other poverty alleviation interventions also contribute to food security, as do programs aimed at women. Conceptually and empirically, there are many areas of interaction within and between each group and subgroup of program. When there is an imbalance among program emphases, both food security and economic growth suffer.
Thus, efforts to promote sustainable food security must draw upon sufficient programming flexibility to ensure the appropriate choice and balance of development interventions. An increase in funding directives, while overall resource allocation levels are decreasing, can compromise this programming flexibility. In a zero-based budget situation, a health directive can crowd out agricultural development or other poverty reduction investments. Without greater resources, and/or greater programming flexibility, the proper balance of priorities cannot be guaranteed. And, where food security is the objective, foreign assistance resources for broad-based agricultural development are a critical part of that balance.
For example, substantially more development resources target women as beneficiaries of social services rather than as productive members of society. Women do benefit from microenterprise lending, but these resources are not available to assist them in their very important roles as food producers. Furthermore, greater attention should be given to gender-based productivity constraints of a more strategic nature, such as access to and control over productive resources. Nevertheless, access to family planning and other reproductive health services must be sustained.
The USG's ability to direct resources at food security can be improved by building stronger interactions between agriculture and programs in other sectors of development assistance. Furthermore, better coordination of programs and policies across U.S. Government agencies with international food security responsibility can greatly enhance the effectiveness of our global effort. In sum, these agencies must jointly strive to recognize and take advantage of the conceptual and programmatic connections between activities that influence food security.
While the temptation, in addressing a complex problem such as food security, might be to reallocate resources to a new "high priority area," this strategy is neither realistic nor is it necessarily the most effective approach. The more realistic alternative is to include a food security focus on existing priorities, creating new relationships and links in these priority areas in the short term. Over the longer term, this should help loosen strictures on development and food assistance resources to allow for more effective marshaling of food security resources. Therefore, the U.S. Government could consider the following actions:
1. developing a new food security strategy to reflect the complex and multi-sectoral nature of food security (i.e., availability, access, and utilization);
2. revising strategic frameworks to establish food security and agricultural development as priority areas;
3. expanding the African Food Security Initiative, so that it can target resources on more countries that have created a policy environment conducive to increased agricultural productivity and economic growth.
1. exploring the relationships, links and mutual complementarities between agriculture and other areas/sectors of development assistance, seeking to enhance the impacts on food security -- where appropriate -- in these non-agriculture sectors;
2. funding economic growth activities, including resources for technical assistance, policy analysis, training and market information activities focused on helping countries improve their policies -- including those which are gender-based -- affecting food security;
3. seeking additional funding for P.L.480 Title III for use in food security focused policy reform efforts in combination with development assistance and economic growth resources;
4. assisting regional organizations, in food insecure parts of the world, to monitor and analyze the food policy implementation performance of their member states;
5. maintaining the Interagency Working Group on Food Security as the focal point in the Executive Branch for the USG's continuing response to the World Food Summit, to include identifying issues which the Executive Branch needs to address in concert with Congress;
6. developing an interagency coordinating mechanism, perhaps as part of the IWG, to a) ensure that USG agencies working on food security issues recognize the importance of international food security as a priority objective; and b) develop a means of coordinating strategies and policies affecting international food security;
7. strengthening policy dialogue on the positive interactions among improved food security, improved education and economic productivity for women, child health and survival, and population stabilization, while maintaining strong support for family planning and other reproductive health programs.
VI. Effective Use of Food Aid to Promote Food Security
The World Food Summit encouraged donors to sharpen the focus of their food aid on the most chronically food insecure countries and regions, provide an appropriate volume of food aid on the basis of need, establish incentives to encourage the best use of food aid, and strive to ensure that the benefits of food assistance reach those who have the most responsibility for household food security, especially women. To better address these challenges, the United States will continue to look at ways to improve its food aid programs, primarily those governed under Public Law 480. In an era of changing agricultural trade and production circumstances, both P.L.480's effectiveness in helping food insecure populations reach the point where they can feed themselves, and its efficiency in responding to emergencies need to be continually reassessed. In the ten years from 1986-96, U.S.Government food aid levels fell from 8.3 million tons annually to 3.0 million tons, even as emergency food needs were increasing dramatically.
Given continued U.S. budget constraints and the unlikely possibility that funding to meet international emergencies will increase appreciably in the foreseeable future, it is important that U.S. emergency food aid response mechanisms be as flexible, efficient, and coordinated as possible.
The U.S. Government could consider a number of broad ranging options for restructuring food aid practices, both nationally and internationally, and improving emergency response mechanisms. A number of the following possible actions have been raised by public groups interested in this issue:
1. refine P.L. 480 and other grant food aid programs to:
a) expand grant food aid provisions to cover inland transportation costs for 1) countries in transition from crisis to development and 2) Less developed countries suffering serious food shortages;
b) seek establishment of a contingency funding mechanism for P.L.480 Title II to ensure that sufficient budgetary resources are made available in volatile markets to meet legislatively mandated minimum and sub-minimum tonnage levels;
c) factor in local markets and nutritional needs in assessing commodities to respond to emergencies;
d) recommend changes to strengthen the food security linkages of P.L. 480 legislation by targeting development food aid resources through more focused programs, giving priority to countries: where food insecurity is greatest; that undertake economic policies to promote free economic systems, and that demonstrate the political will necessary to achieve food security;
e) in response to the Marrakesh Ministerial Decision on Measures Concerning the Possible Negative Effects of the Reform Programme on Least Developed and Net Food Importing Developing Countries, work within the framework of the renegotiation of the 1995 Food Aid Convention (FAC) to "develop recommendations with a view towards establishing a level of food aid commitments, covering as wide a range of donors and donatable foodstuffs as possible, which is sufficient to meet the legitimate needs of developing countries during the reform programme."
2. work with other major food aid providers to develop effective donor coordination, e.g. through a donors' code of conduct for food aid as a step in a comprehensive approach to food security issues.
3. promote the development and/or strengthening of regional food aid codes of conduct, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, whose scope may include, inter alia:
development of common terms of reference for carrying out joint country food security assessments to achieve widespread consensus on individual country food security profiles;
better integration of food aid and other food security related resources to achieve food security;
development of coordinated strategies for refugees and transition situations in given areas;
coordinating distribution to ensure that optimum use is made of logistical resources and commercial networks, in cooperation with local traders and non-governmental organizations
4. consider enhanced P.L.480 Title III funding, especially as a complementary support to the Africa Food Security Initiative;
5. work to ensure greater focus on rural development strategies in appropriate regions using both food aid and other U.S. Government resources to enhance efforts to prevent the development of emergency food needs.
The National Consultations of May 21 raised other issues relating to the U.S. ability to provide food aid overseas, which should continue to be discussed. The need to replenish the Food Security Commodity Reserve (FSCR) was a major concern. The FSCR, which provides a back-up for P.L. 480 commodities, currently holds approximately 2.5 million metric tons; the 1996 release of 1.3 million metric tons has not been replenished. Several ideas for replenishing the reserve have been suggested, including the following:
a) identifying a mechanism to use P.L.480 funds uncommitted at the end of the fiscal year to purchase commodities for replenishment of the FSCR;
b) considering mechanisms to allow P.L.480 funds currently used to reimburse CCC for draw-down of the Reserve during periods of short supply to be used to buy additional commodities;
c) reviewing the continued relevance of the P.L.480 commodity availability provision;
d) over the longer term, considering conversion of the FSCR to a cash reserve.
Another issue discussed at the Consultations was the possibility of refining P.L.480 and other grant food aid programs to permit procurement and pre-positioning of small quantities of selected commodities in the U.S. for sudden emergency "quick response" -- as indicated by early warning forecasts and in the absence of an emergency fund.
VII. Maximizing and Targeting Resources
Even if U.S. foreign assistance resources were to increase, which is not likely in the foreseeable future, the private sector will be the main engine for economic development and food security over the long term. Effective private sector-driven development in food security depends on forms of public-private partnerships which are quite different from those induced by traditional assistance mechanisms. Public sector assistance, therefore, must be effectively targeted to stimulate and facilitate private sector activity and to address pockets of poverty in the developing world that are being left behind by the upswing in free market activity. Donor assistance, including the lending resources of multilateral institutions, must be coordinated more effectively, to build on the broad consensus reached at the World Food Summit and the new opportunities for coordination that are now available in the post-Cold War environment. Growing global economic integration increases the U.S. stake in developing country food security problems and provides access to non-traditional resources in tackling food security problems.
Among the international coordination issues that must be addressed are:
The UN system agencies, such as FAO, UNDP, IFAD, UNICEF, UNHCR, WHO, and WFP have an important role to play in improving global food security, but they do not operate in a coordinated and efficient manner. In addition to reform measures already announced, further improvements in coordination mechanisms among UN agencies involved with food security will be required to meet the objectives of the World Food Summit.
At least partially in response to future food security concerns, the World Bank has recently approved a new Rural Development Strategy, which, among other things, envisions substantial donor and donor-recipient coordination in the design and implementation of programs aimed at food security. The Bank's rural development strategy will bring new resources to the tasks of:
World Bank activities, as well as those of other Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs), are critical to leveraging significant amounts of international investment toward food security, research and development, liberalizing the food and agricultural sector in the less developed countries, and utilizing private trade and investment for enhancing efficiency and market integration.
To this end, the World Bank has already established coordination mechanisms with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the European Union (EU), the African Development Bank, and the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO). The Bank's proposed regional development centers in Africa will also facilitate donor coordination on food security issues.
New Transatlantic Agenda (NTA)
Because the US and EU are the two dominant donors in the areas of food security and humanitarian assistance, the Working Group on Food Security is of particular importance under the NTA. It was agreed in the most recent US-EU Summit to expand the scope of the dialogue on food security under the NTA.
US-Japan Common Agenda
Japan is now the largest bilateral donor and a growing influence in development assistance worldwide. The Common Agenda has sought to use the comparative advantages of USAID and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to build partnerships in key development areas. It was agreed during the most recent Common Agenda round to expand joint activity in food security in pursuit of the goals of the World Food Summit.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)
The OECD has been active for some time in food security efforts, particularly in Africa. Its Development Assistance Committee (DAC) originated, in cooperation with West African recipient governments, the innovative Club du Sahel, one of the most effective multilateral efforts to design and implement preventive measures against the effect of natural disaster on food supply in West Africa. It is currently helping to transfer this experience from West to East Africa.
Country Level Coordination
Donor coordination at this level is currently organized through a variety of mechanisms, such as the World Bank's Consultative Group, the UN Round Table, the US-EU and US-Japan collaborative programs, and other informal technical consultations among interested donors, as well as in-country coordination under recipient country leadership. The broad objective of food security presents an opportunity for a more comprehensive effort to coordinate bilateral and multilateral assistance in priority countries.
There are also many, yet untapped opportunities for eliciting food security resources in the private, non-governmental sector, essentially by developing public-private partnerships and by employing public resources to create the conditions that encourage the flow of private investment -- including policy and institutional reform, research and development, improved information access, standards and codes of conduct, and disaster mitigation. The U.S. Government must take the initiative to work with the private sector in identifying and translating these opportunities into reality.
In the interests of more effectively focusing and utilizing public resources in pursuit of food security, the U.S. Government could consider the following programs and measures:
1. moving the action proposals involving international coordination into established channels of interaction with the EU, Japan, OECD, specialized UN agencies, the World Bank, and regional MDBs;
2. strengthening existing consultative mechanisms with both donors and recipients, and where necessary, consider additional/new coordinating mechanisms to:
- recognize and reward good performance, e.g., commitment to policy reform, good investment strategies;
- establish standards for monitoring both donor and developing country performance;
- ensure that assistance strategies and priorities are tailored to meet the agreed development priorities of recipient countries;
- identify and target focus countries for coordinated donor activity related to food security;
- encourage the strengthening of regional institutions, particularly in Africa, to advance regional integration, address regional issues, and facilitate donor-recipient coordination.
3. establishing a subgroup under the existing IWG to address food security issues, coordinate linkages between trade and development policies, particularly in Africa, develop strategies with other donors and MDBs, and explore ideas for public-private partnerships that would facilitate mobilization of private resources, government loans and grants into coherent food security programs.
4. undertaking experimental public-private partnerships to develop new models of cooperation, such as the consultation now underway between USAID and the Carter Center Global 2000 program.
VIII. Human Rights as a Framework for Food Security
The United States is committed to achieving global food security and reducing hunger and malnutrition. It has a long humanitarian tradition of providing food to the needy at home, through both public and private institutions, and of supporting international efforts to do so. The United States is also committed to an open trading system to help assure that the global community has access to the agricultural abundance of the United States.
Within the United States, the federal government currently provides food assistance through the federal Food Stamp Program, the National School Lunch Program, and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and through surplus food distributions. Many state and local governments also provide food assistance to those in need. Private charities, religious, and other organizations are major providers of food to the needy. Internationally, the United States remains the single largest provider of food aid and is an important supporter of food research. As one of the world's major food exporters, the United States pursues policies that maintain its position as a reliable supplier.
U.S. food security policies are developed within the framework of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. The United States has been a principal architect of the global structure of human rights since World War II. Food security is embedded in the foundation of U.S. foreign policy and the concept of universal human rights. With regard to international standards, the United States fully subscribes to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 25(1) of which states, "Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and his family, including food...." The United States also promotes food security activities consistent with the principles set out in the 1949 Geneva Conventions and Article 11(1) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, although it is not a party to that Covenant. The United States has ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and promotes means by which communities and civil society can better participate in shaping activities and government policies affecting food security.
U.S. activities in pursuit of its international obligations have been reinforced by various legislative enactments. The United States understands the sentiments and concepts embodied in international proposals to establish binding rights to food and believes that full implementation of existing legal instruments would contribute substantially to achieving food security.
Some public statements at the National Consultations on Food Security expressed a strong sentiment that the United States should ratify the Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights. The U.S. Government has signed the Covenant, which remains pending before the Senate for its advice and consent to ratification, and it fully embraces international efforts to provide food security and freedom from hunger. The Government believes, however, that the best route to food security, particularly in countries and populations that are most food insecure, is not through legal instruments, but through the adoption of sound policies and practical steps to expand food production and reduce hunger.
The U.S. Government continues to be willing to examine its current policies in light of the objectives of respecting, protecting, facilitating, and fulfilling food security, both at home and abroad. We hope other governments will do the same. The United States will promote policies, share information and expertise, and pursue fair and open trading systems to advance food security and reduce hunger and malnutrition throughout the world. Food security will be achieved through comprehensive actions to encourage economic development, poverty alleviation, and universal access to balanced, nutritious food.