(Rome, 14 October 2009) The high level forum convened in Rome by FAO on 12‐13 October offered a potential space for debate on one of the oldest and most critical issues of our time – but it overlooked many of the key questions and did not achieve consensus on solutions.
FAO tried a new style of engagement, bringing together a wide range of expertise in an interdisciplinary forum, in the preparatory process leading the World Summit on Food Security (16‐18 November). It is not surprising that such a gathering was only able to put some of the complex issues on the table in the few hours they had available and it started off on the wrong track.
The forum did not discuss the origins of the multiple crises, including climate change, that are exponentially increasing hunger. It missed a discussion on how to realise the Right to Food. And it did not build on the most significant expert scientific assessment that addressed the specific question posed for this forum – the International Assessment on Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD). IAASTD, which reported in 2008, was the result of a four year effort by more than 400 scientists worldwide. IAASTD’s 22 Key Findings, approved by 58 governments, were largely ignored by the organisers of the Forum.
While there was general agreement on some facts, for example, that the world currently grows sufficient food to feed everyone, much of the debate nevertheless focused on production needs. Much less was said about the market failures behind world hunger. And the continuing marginalisation and restricted access to land and productive resources of small‐scale food providers – the women and men farmers, fishers, pastoralists, Indigenous Peoples – although they are the major providers of food for the one billion hungry, were not adequately addressed.
As governments prepare a High Level Expert Panel for the Committee on World Food Security (CFS), they should make certain that a more thoughtful and inclusive process is followed to ensure comprehensive, reliable and credible advice is provided.
The new CFS deserves better expert advice on how to feed the world.
Action Aid International
Collectif Strategies Alimentaires (CSA)
Maldhari (pastoralist) Rural Action Group
COPROFAM (Coordenaçao de Produtos Familiares, Campesinos e Indigenas de Mercosur Ampliado)
MIJARC (International Movement of Agricltural Rural Youth)
Pesticides Action Network ‐ Asia Pacific
World Forum of Fish Harvesters and Fishworkers (WFF)
Genetic Rights Foundation