Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Food crisis: the high level Madrid conference on Food Security for All

Source: EU News, Issue 1, February 2008

The EU Council approved the EU's contribution to a high-level meeting on "Food Security for All" that is due to take place in Madrid on 26 and 27 January.

The EU wishes the Madrid conference to urge the donor community to engage in a joint, coordinated and coherent response to the challenge of food security in developing countries. It further calls on the conference to launch a consultation process between all stakeholders of the global food system - developing countries, donor countries, international organisations, private sector, NGOs and civil societies - which would lead to the formation of a "global partnership for agriculture and food security". The global partnership would allow all stakeholders to renew their commitment to achieve a comprehensive and coherent long-term response to hunger and malnutrition.

The Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance (EAA) and faith-based organizations and leaders around the world hailed the recognition, at the High Level Meeting on Food Security for All, of the essential role of the Right to Food in combating hunger.

In his closing remarks in Madrid, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon challenged the international community to add a third track to the food aid and safety response:”the right to food - as a basis for analysis, action and accountability."

"We welcome this outcome and look forward to the concrete elaboration of how the Right to Food will be linked to the actions proposed by the UN High Level Task Force; it is essential that this statement is much more than lip service, but will be made operational and guide actions at country level," said Rudolf Buntzel, chair of the APRODEV working group on Trade and Food security, one of the three e faith-based delegates to the Madrid meeting advocating for more just policies to benefit the poorest and most vulnerable.

In Madrid, together with the EU, some participants were promoting a new Global Partnership for Agriculture and Food Security (GPAFS). However, the relevance of a new global partnership for the people that suffer hunger was highly criticized by many civil society organizations and some governments. The establishment of the partnership was not formalized during the meeting and will undergo further discussion.

APRODEV representatives questioned whether the complex process proposed during the conference (GPAFS) will lead to a more efficient structure rather than only improving the functioning of the international organizations that currently have the lead in tackling hunger such as FAO, IFAD and WFP.

The UN Secretary-General called for urgent commitment and action. "The way forward must link actions to reduce hunger, improve food and nutrition security, broaden social protection for the vulnerable, improve agricultural production, and make trading systems work for the world's poorest," he said. "We must raise the political profile of actions in all of these areas, advocating for finance, action and results."

The Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance (EAA), the broad international network of churches and Christian organizations cooperating in advocacy recently launched a broad campaign on Food. For more information and for the EAA press release on Madrid Conference, see the EAA website.

See also Euforic's newsfeeds on the food crisis, CIDSE and APRODEV