While the impact of Greece's economic crisis on the European Union and the global economy which has been framed by the competing visions of austerity and investment, the ramping down of the war in Afghanistan, the political transitions that followed the North African and Middle Eastern Arab democratic uprisings and ongoing political economy issues drew heavy media coverage, the issue of food security was also highlighted .
To that end, President Obama extended an invitation to four African heads of state - Ghanaian President John Evans Atta Mills, Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, Beninese President Thomas Yayi Boni and Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi "to address the challenges and opportunities afforded by Africa's quest for inclusive and sustainable development", review progress, setbacks and get the International community's commitment "to fulfill outstanding L'Aquila financial pledges."
Alternate viewpoints and questions were presented by civil society leaders from around the globe at parallel meetings, gatherings and protests. The Statement of the Camp David Declaration from the G-8 is reproduced below. Analysis, critiques, and alternate foreign policy viewpoints follow.
"THE WHITE HOUSE - Office of the Press Secretary
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 19, 2012
Camp David Declaration
Camp David, Maryland, United States
May 18-19, 2012
1. We, the Leaders of the Group of Eight, met at Camp David on May 18 and 19, 2012 to address major global economic and political challenges.
The Global Economy
2. Our imperative is to promote growth and jobs.
3. The global economic recovery shows signs of promise, but significant headwinds persist.
4. Against this background, we commit to take all necessary steps to strengthen and reinvigorate our economies and combat financial stresses, recognizing that the right measures are not the same for each of us.
5. We welcome the ongoing discussion in Europe on how to generate growth, while maintaining a firm commitment to implement fiscal consolidation to be assessed on a structural basis. We agree on the importance of a strong and cohesive Eurozone for global stability and recovery, and we affirm our interest in Greece remaining in the Eurozone while respecting its commitments. We all have an interest in the success of specific measures to strengthen the resilience of the Eurozone and growth in Europe. We support Euro Area Leaders' resolve to address the strains in the Eurozone in a credible and timely manner and in a manner that fosters confidence, stability and growth.
6. We agree that all of our governments need to take actions to boost confidence and nurture recovery including reforms to raise productivity, growth and demand within a sustainable, credible and non-inflationary macroeconomic framework. We commit to fiscal responsibility and, in this context, we support sound and sustainable fiscal consolidation policies that take into account countries' evolving economic conditions and underpin confidence and economic recovery.
7. To raise productivity and growth potential in our economies, we support structural reforms, and investments in education and in modern infrastructure, as appropriate. Investment initiatives can be financed using a range of mechanisms, including leveraging the private sector. Sound financial measures, to which we are committed, should build stronger systems over time while not choking off near-term credit growth. We commit to promote investment to underpin demand, including support for small businesses and public-private partnerships.
8. Robust international trade, investment and market integration are key drivers of strong sustainable and balanced growth. We underscore the importance of open markets and a fair, strong, rules-based trading system. We will honor our commitment to refrain from protectionist measures, protect investments and pursue bilateral, plurilateral, and multilateral efforts, consistent with and supportive of the WTO framework, to reduce barriers to trade and investment and maintain open markets. We call on the broader international community to do likewise. Recognizing that unnecessary differences and overly burdensome regulatory standards serve as significant barriers to trade, we support efforts towards regulatory coherence and better alignment of standards to further promote trade and growth.
9. Given the importance of intellectual property rights (IPR) to stimulating job and economic growth, we affirm the significance of high standards for IPR protection and enforcement, including through international legal instruments and mutual assistance agreements, as well as through government procurement processes, private-sector voluntary codes of best practices, and enhanced customs cooperation, while promoting the free flow of information. To protect public health and consumer safety, we also commit to exchange information on rogue internet pharmacy sites in accordance with national law and share best practices on combating counterfeit medical products.
Energy and Climate Change
10. As our economies grow, we recognize the importance of meeting our energy needs from a wide variety of sources ranging from traditional fuels to renewables to other clean technologies. As we each implement our own individual energy strategies, we embrace the pursuit of an appropriate mix from all of the above in an environmentally safe, sustainable, secure, and affordable manner. We also recognize the importance of pursuing and promoting sustainable energy and low carbon policies in order to tackle the global challenge of climate change. To facilitate the trade of energy around the world, we commit to take further steps to remove obstacles to the evolution of global energy infrastructure; to reduce barriers and refrain from discriminatory measures that impede market access; and to pursue universal access to cleaner, safer, and more affordable energy. We remain committed to the principles on global energy security adopted by the G-8 in St. Petersburg.
11. As we pursue energy security, we will do so with renewed focus on safety and sustainability. We are committed to establishing and sharing best practices on energy production, including exploration in frontier areas and the use of technologies such as deep water drilling and hydraulic fracturing, where allowed, to allow for the safe development of energy sources, taking into account environmental concerns over the life of a field. In light of the nuclear accident triggered by the tsunami in Japan, we continue to strongly support initiatives to carry out comprehensive risk and safety assessments of existing nuclear installations and to strengthen the implementation of relevant conventions to aim for high levels of nuclear safety.
12. We recognize that increasing energy efficiency and reliance on renewables and other clean energy technologies can contribute significantly to energy security and savings, while also addressing climate change and promoting sustainable economic growth and innovation. We welcome sustained, cost-effective policies to support reliable renewable energy sources and their market integration. We commit to advance appliance and equipment efficiency, including through comparable and transparent testing procedures, and to promote industrial and building efficiency through energy management systems.
13. We agree to continue our efforts to address climate change and recognize the need for increased mitigation ambition in the period to 2020, with a view to doing our part to limit effectively the increase in global temperature below 2ºC above pre-industrial levels, consistent with science. We strongly support the outcome of the 17th Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Durban to implement the Cancun agreements and the launch of the Durban Platform, which we welcome as a significant breakthrough toward the adoption by 2015 of a protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force applicable to all Parties, developed and developing countries alike. We agree to continue to work together in the UNFCCC and other fora, including through the Major Economies Forum, toward a positive outcome at Doha.
14. Recognizing the impact of short-lived climate pollutants on near-term climate change, agricultural productivity, and human health, we support, as a means of promoting increased ambition and complementary to other CO2 and GHG emission reduction efforts, comprehensive actions to reduce these pollutants, which, according to UNEP and others, account for over thirty percent of near-term global warming as well as 2 million premature deaths a year. Therefore, we agree to join the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-lived Climate Pollutants.
15. In addition, we strongly support efforts to rationalize and phase-out over the medium term inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption, and to continue voluntary reporting on progress.
Food Security and Nutrition
16. For over a decade, the G-8 has engaged with African partners to address the challenges and opportunities afforded by Africa's quest for inclusive and sustainable development. Our progress has been measurable, and together we have changed the lives of hundreds of millions of people. International assistance alone, however, cannot fulfill our shared objectives. As we move forward, and even as we recommit to working together to reduce poverty, we recognize that our task is also to foster the change that can end it, by investing in Africa's growth, its expanding role in the global economy, and its success. As part of that effort, we commit to fulfill outstanding L'Aquila financial pledges, seek to maintain strong support to address current and future global food security challenges, including through bilateral and multilateral assistance, and agree to take new steps to accelerate progress towards food security and nutrition in Africa and globally, on a complementary basis.
17. Since the L'Aquila Summit, we have seen an increased level of commitment to global food security, realignment of assistance in support of country-led plans, and new investments and greater collaboration in agricultural research. We commend our African partners for the progress made since L'Aquila, consistent with the Maputo Declaration, to increase public investments in agriculture and to adopt the governance and policy reforms necessary to accelerate sustainable agricultural productivity growth, attain greater gains in nutrition, and unlock sustainable and inclusive country-led growth. The leadership of the African Union and the role of its Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP) have been essential.
18. Building on this progress, and working with our African and other international partners, today we commit to launch a New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition to accelerate the flow of private capital to African agriculture, take to scale new technologies and other innovations that can increase sustainable agricultural productivity, and reduce the risk borne by vulnerable economies and communities. This New Alliance will lift 50 million people out of poverty over the next decade, and be guided by a collective commitment to invest in credible, comprehensive and country-owned plans, develop new tools to mobilize private capital, spur and scale innovation, and manage risk; and engage and leverage the capacity of private sector partners - from women and smallholder farmers, entrepreneurs to domestic and international companies.
19. The G-8 reaffirms its commitment to the world's poorest and most vulnerable people, and recognizes the vital role of official development assistance in poverty alleviation and achieving the Millennium Development Goals. As such, we welcome and endorse the Camp David Accountability Report which records the important progress that the G-8 has made on food security consistent with commitments made at the L'Aquila Summit, and in meeting our commitments on global health, including the Muskoka initiative on maternal, newborn and child health. We remain strongly committed to reporting transparently and consistently on the implementation of these commitments. We look forward to a comprehensive report under the UK Presidency in 2013.
Afghanistan's Economic Transition
20. We reaffirm our commitment to a sovereign, peaceful, and stable Afghanistan, with full ownership of its own security, governance and development and free of terrorism, extremist violence, and illicit drug production and trafficking. We will continue to support the transition process with close coordination of our security, political and economic strategies.
21. With an emphasis on mutual accountability and improved governance, building on the Kabul Process and Bonn Conference outcomes, our countries will take steps to mitigate the economic impact of the transition period and support the development of a sustainable Afghan economy by enhancing Afghan capacity to increase fiscal revenues and improve spending management, as well as mobilizing non-security assistance into the transformation decade.
22. We will support the growth of Afghan civil society and will mobilize private sector support by strengthening the enabling environment and expanding business opportunities in key sectors, as well as promote regional economic cooperation to enhance connectivity.
23. We will also continue to support the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in its efforts to meet its obligation to protect and promote human rights and fundamental freedoms, including in the rights of women and girls and the freedom to practice religion.
24. We look forward to the upcoming Tokyo Conference in July, as it generates further long-term support for civilian assistance to Afghanistan from G-8 members and other donors into the transformation decade; agrees to a strategy for Afghanistan's sustainable economic development, with mutual commitments and benchmarks between Afghanistan and the international community; and provides a mechanism for biennial reviews of progress being made against those benchmarks through the transformation decade.
The Transitions in the Middle East and North Africa
25. A year after the historic events across the Middle East and North Africa began to unfold, the aspirations of people of the region for freedom, human rights, democracy, job opportunities, empowerment and dignity are undiminished. We recognize important progress in a number of countries to respond to these aspirations and urge continued progress to implement promised reforms. Strong and inclusive economic growth, with a thriving private sector to provide jobs, is an essential foundation for democratic and participatory government based on the rule of law and respect for basic freedoms, including respect for the rights of women and girls and the right to practice religious faith in safety and security.
26. We renew our commitment to the Deauville Partnership with Arab Countries in Transition, launched at the G-8 Summit last May. We welcome the steps already taken, in partnership with others in the region, to support economic reform, open government, and trade, investment and integration.
27. We note in particular the steps being taken to expand the mandate of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to bring its expertise in transition economies and financing support for private sector growth to this region; the platform established by international financial institutions to enhance coordination and identify opportunities to work together to support the transition country reform efforts; progress in conjunction with regional partners toward establishing a new transition fund to support country-owned policy reforms complementary to existing mechanisms; increased financial commitments to reforming countries from international and regional financial institutions, the G-8 and regional partners; strategies to increase access to capital markets to help boost private investment; and commitments from our countries and others to support small and medium-sized enterprises, provide needed training and technical assistance and facilitate international exchanges and training programs for key constituencies in transition countries.
28. Responding to the call from partner countries, we endorse an asset recovery action plan to promote the return of stolen assets and welcome, and commit to support the action plans developed through the Partnership to promote open government, reduce corruption, strengthen accountability and improve the regulatory environment, particularly for the growth of small- and medium-sized enterprises. These governance reforms will foster the inclusive economic growth, rule of law and job creation needed for the success of democratic transition. We are working with Partnership countries to build deeper trade and investment ties, across the region and with members of the G-8, which are critical to support growth and job creation. In this context, we welcome Partnership countries' statement on openness to international investment.
29. G-8 members are committed to an enduring and productive partnership that supports the historic transformation underway in the region. We commit to further work during the rest of 2012 to support private sector engagement, asset recovery, closer trade ties and provision of needed expertise as well as assistance, including through a transition fund. We call for a meeting in September of Foreign Ministers to review progress being made under the Partnership.
Political and Security Issues
30. We remain appalled by the loss of life, humanitarian crisis, and serious and widespread human rights abuses in Syria. The Syrian government and all parties must immediately and fully adhere to commitments to implement the six-point plan of UN and Arab League Joint Special Envoy (JSE) Kofi Annan, including immediately ceasing all violence so as to enable a Syrian-led, inclusive political transition leading to a democratic, plural political system. We support the efforts of JSE Annan and look forward to seeing his evaluation, during his forthcoming report to the UN Security Council, of the prospects for beginning this political transition process in the near-term. Use of force endangering the lives of civilians must cease. We call on the Syrian government to grant safe and unhindered access of humanitarian personnel to populations in need of assistance in accordance with international law. We welcome the deployment of the UN Supervision Mission in Syria, and urge all parties, in particular the Syrian government, to fully cooperate with the mission. We strongly condemn recent terrorist attacks in Syria. We remain deeply concerned about the threat to regional peace and security and humanitarian despair caused by the crisis and remain resolved to consider further UN measures as appropriate.
31. We remain united in our grave concern over Iran's nuclear program. We call on Iran to comply with all of its obligations under relevant UNSC resolutions and requirements of the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) Board of Governors. We also call on Iran to continuously comply with its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, including its safeguards obligations. We also call on Iran to address without delay all outstanding issues related to its nuclear program, including questions concerning possible military dimensions. We desire a peaceful and negotiated solution to concerns over Iran's nuclear program, and therefore remain committed to a dual-track approach. We welcome the resumption of talks between Iran and the E3+3 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union High Representative). We call on Iran to seize the opportunity that began in Istanbul, and sustain this opening in Baghdad by engaging in detailed discussions about near-term, concrete steps that can, through a step-by-step approach based on reciprocity, lead towards a comprehensive negotiated solution which restores international confidence that Iran's nuclear program is exclusively peaceful. We urge Iran to also comply with international obligations to uphold human rights and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of religion, and end interference with the media, arbitrary executions, torture, and other restrictions placed on rights and freedoms.
32. We continue to have deep concerns about provocative actions of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) that threaten regional stability. We remain concerned about the DPRK's nuclear program, including its uranium enrichment program. We condemn the April 13, 2012, launch that used ballistic missile technology in direct violation of UNSC resolution. We urge the DPRK to comply with its international obligations and abandon all nuclear and ballistic missile programs in a complete, verifiable, and irreversible manner. We call on all UN member states to join the G-8 in fully implementing the UNSC resolutions in this regard. We affirm our will to call on the UN Security Council to take action, in response to additional DPRK acts, including ballistic missile launches and nuclear tests. We remain concerned about human rights violations in the DPRK, including the situation of political prisoners and the abductions issue.
33. We recognize that according women full and equal rights and opportunities is crucial for all countries' political stability, democratic governance, and economic growth. We reaffirm our commitment to advance human rights of and opportunities for women, leading to more development, poverty reduction, conflict prevention and resolution, and improved maternal health and reduced child mortality. We also commit to supporting the right of all people, including women, to freedom of religion in safety and security. We are concerned about the reduction of women's political participation and the placing at risk of their human rights and fundamental freedoms, including in Middle East and North Africa countries emerging from conflict or undergoing political transitions. We condemn and avow to stop violence directed against, including the trafficking of, women and girls. We call upon all states to protect human rights of women and to promote women's roles in economic development and in strengthening international peace and security.
34. We pay tribute to the remarkable efforts of President Thein Sein, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, and many other citizens of Burma/Myanmar to deliver democratic reform in their country over the past year. We recognize the need to secure lasting and irreversible reform, and pledge our support to existing initiatives, particularly those which focus on peace in ethnic area, national reconciliation, and entrenching democracy. We also stress the need to cooperate to further enhance aid coordination among international development partners of Burma/Myanmar and conduct investment in a manner beneficial to the people of Burma/Myanmar.
35. We recognize the particular sacrifices made by the Libyan people in their transition to create a peaceful, democratic, and stable Libya. The international community remains committed to actively support the consolidation of the new Libyan institutions.
36. We condemn transnational organized crime and terrorism in all forms and manifestations. We pledge to enhance our cooperation to combat threats of terrorism and terrorist groups, including al-Qa'ida, its affiliates and adherents, and transnational organized crime, including individuals and groups engaged in illicit drug trafficking and production. We stress that it is critical to strengthen efforts to curb illicit trafficking in arms in the Sahel area, in particular to eliminate the Man-Portable Air Defense Systems proliferated across the region; to counter financing of terrorism, including kidnapping for ransom; and to eliminate support for terrorist organizations and criminal networks. We urge states to develop necessary capacities including in governance, education, and criminal justice systems, to address, reduce and undercut terrorist and criminal threats, including "lone wolf" terrorists and violent extremism, while safeguarding human rights and upholding the rule of law. We underscore the central role of the United Nations and welcome the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) and efforts of the Roma-Lyon Group in countering terrorism. We reaffirm the need to strengthen the implementation of the UN Al-Qaida sanctions regime, and the integrity and implementation of the UN conventions on drug control and transnational organized crime.
37. We reaffirm that nonproliferation and disarmament issues are among our top priorities. We remain committed to fulfill all of our obligations under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and, concerned about the severe proliferation challenges, call on all parties to support and promote global nonproliferation and disarmament efforts.
38. We welcome and fully endorse the G-8 Foreign Ministers Meeting Chair's Statement with accompanying annex.
39. We look forward to meeting under the presidency of the United Kingdom in 2013." --White House Office of the Press Secretary.
Alternate Viewpoints on Food Security Strategy
1) A critique of G8 foreign investment strategy and outstanding commitments for African Agriculture advanced at previous summits in Aquilla and Paris is offered and addressed to the African Union by Mamadou Cissokho, Honorary President of ROPPA, President Steering Committee CDP/CSO, on behalf of farmers members and African Civil Society organizations. May 15, 2012
"Mr. President (of the African Union),
Please allow a West African peasant to share with you his preoccupations in the run-up to the G8 Symposium on food security to be held in Washington on 18-19 May 2012 and the G8 on 20 May 2012 at Camp David. Two events at which the food security of our continent will be discussed, following Aquila in 2008 and Paris in 2011.
International debates on financing African agriculture seem to be taking a direction which is not likely to lead to the necessary renewal of approaches. Yet this issue is a fundamental one. The choices that are made today in Sub-Saharan Africa regarding the modalities of agricultural financing and where it is directed will shape the form of agricultural development and the nature of the African food system of tomorrow.
It appears that appropriate financial approaches to address our major challenges have not yet been found. Agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa is confronted today with three essential problems, which have been identified with the consensus of all of the actors : Increasing production in a sustainable and equitable fashion and improving the functioning of markets ; Improving productivity and the economic viability of farms and value chains in order to create a sustainable basis for food security and sovereignty; Balancing low prices for consumers with decent revenues for producers.
These challenges place us before a complex equation which includes the following questions: What investments to make? What production systems should be privileged? Which products to support? Which markets to target (local, national, regional, international)? And who should benefit from the support?
It is clear that the replies to these questions will not be univocal: no technical or institutional innovation can suffice on its own to respond to these challenges.
Today we are faced with two contrasting aspirations in Sub-Saharan Africa: the desire to regain control of our development and, on the other hand, the temptation of an excessive reliance on external resources.
During the 2000s, 25 years after its creation, ECOWAS opted for the establishment of regional sectoral agricultural policies in coherence with the original intentions of the founding countries, that is promoting the well-being of the peoples of the region through economic development and peace.
The PAU of UEMOA followed by the ECOWAP of ECOWAS were formulated in 2001 and 2005 in a spirit of dialogue with the networks of peasant and agricultural producers’ organizations, breaking away from the “project approach” whose limitations have become clear to all. These policies have been validated and signed into law by the African Heads of State.
At the same time, the African states committed themselves at Maputo to dedicate more public resources to agriculture. To complement these initiatives NEPAD gave birth in 2006 to a new partnership for agriculture. All of these commitments, put together, testify to a real commitment to agriculture on the part of the African authorities, to a new desire to assume control of African development in dialogue with local populations. They generated significant hopes and expectations on the part of the social movements and the networks of peasants and producers, who saw agriculture regaining its position at the heart of the political agenda. They saw that the African authorities were at last shouldering their responsibilities with resolution and determining to define, validate and fund a good proportion of the expenses in the key sector of their economies: agriculture, pastoralism, forests, fisheries, known as the "agriculture sector".
Unfortunately the methodology adopted for the formulation of CAADP rapidly degenerated. The National Agricultural Development Programmes, promoted from above with insufficient dialogue with the concerned actors, appeared to be above all occasions for negotiating new aid. In many cases the content of these national programmes hardly differs from the traditional standard lists of projects, overlapping or even contradictory, the same from one country to another. Yet it seems that we have suffered considerably from this type of programme in the past and that it would be in our interests to devote our attention to effectively applying our agricultural policies, along the lines of the CAP in Europe, the Farm Bill in the US, or the policies put in place by Brazil and India.
The paradox between an African consensus regarding the need to increase investments in agriculture and the lack of clarity concerning the destination of these investments (which products, which markets?) constitutes in my view a cause for serious preoccupation: how to conceive of the implementation of such unclear policies? In my view the ECOWAP should accord the major advantages to the principle investors in agriculture, those who take the risks within the family enterprises, that is the peasants, and not to urban or foreign sources of capital.
Three events have accentuated these doubts. First of all the misunderstandings around the principle of the green revolution proposed by AGRA. Then the World Economic Forum where “Grow Africa” was launched. And finally USAID’s approval of the “new alliance” for food security which should become a reality in June 2012. All three are signals, in my view, which risk seriously compromising the realization of the original missions of ECOWAP, the PAU and other similar policies in Africa.
At the moment in which the president of the United States, acting in good faith I am sure, has decided to organize a symposium on food security on 18-19 May 2012 in Washington on the eve of the G8 meeting in Camp David, I address myself to you, as President of the African Union, and through you to all of the African Heads of State. I ask you to explain how you could possibly justify thinking that the food security and sovereignty of Africa could be secured through international cooperation outside of the policy frameworks formulated in an inclusive fashion with the peasants and the producers of the continent.
A look at the history of agricultural development in the various regions of the world makes it clear that agriculture has never developed in this way. We know that the progress that has been accomplished in agriculture, the important successes of the agricultural policies obtained in Europe, in the United States and in emerging countries like Brazil and India, have always been the product of sovereign will and of a partnership between the states and the economic actors, that is the producers, the processors, the traders.
In my humble view, the justification whereby states do not dispose of sufficient resources to fund these policies is not acceptable. The management of mining resources exploited by others, in which the African states are generally the losers, should make it possible to generate resources for such investments.
Priority setting in public expenditure is also an issue. The contribution of activities in agriculture, pastoralism, forestry, fisheries to the creation of wealth in our agricultural countries, to job creation and to social stability justifies a clear choice in favor of this sector on the part of the African states. This is in no way in contradiction with our appreciation of international cooperation, in the context of which we expect an ever greater respect of the Paris Declaration, of the right to food in accordance with the UN Charter of human rights, and a determined fight against international financial speculation and corruption.
I would simply like to recall that food security and sovereignty are the basis of our general development, as all of the African governments underline. It is a strategic challenge. This is why we must build our food policy on our own resources as is done in the other regions of the world. The G8 and the G20 can in no way be considered the appropriate fora for decisions of this nature.
In asking you to transmit this message to your fellow Presidents I beg you to forgive this heartfelt appeal, however awkward it may seem, of an African peasant convinced that we have the means, the knowledge, the resources to build our own future.
Please accept, Mr. President, the expression of my highest and most sincere consideration.
LIST OF THE SIGNATORY ORGANIZATIONS
1. Network of Farmers and Agricultural Producers Organizations (ROPPA)
2. West African Platform of Civil society organizations on the Cotonou Agreement (POSCAO-AC)
3. West and Central Africa Network of National NGO Platforms (REPAOC)
4. West African Civil Society Organizations Forum (WASCOF)
5. Coalition of African Organizations on Food Security and Sustainable Development (COASAD)
6. Francophone Africa Civil Society Organizations (OSCAF)
7. West Africa Network of Economics Journalists (WANEJ)
8. Network of West African Women Association (AFAO)
9. Research Network for Pour l'Appui au Développement en Afrique (REPAD)
10. West African Institute for Trade and Development (WAITAD),
11. West African Bar Association (WABA)
12. Network of African Chambers of Commerce (RECAO)
13. National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTS) 14. Plate forme des Acteurs de la Société Civile au Bénin (PASCiB), 15. SYTO (Réseau ouest africain de la jeunesse)"
- Produced in Pambazuka News
2) Professor Robert Watson, chief scientific advisor for DEFRA explains why food security is a priority... "Over the past century agricultural science and new technologies have boosted production with enormous gains in yields and reductions in the price of food, but the benefits have been unevenly distributed and environmental degradation has resulted in many parts of the world.
Agricultural productivity globally has increased by almost a factor of 3 in the last 50 years, but one billion people still go to bed hungry every night and hunger has increased in several parts of the world, in particular in Sub-Saharan Africa. In addition, this increase in agricultural production has been accompanied by an increase in GHG emissions, loss of biodiversity, and land and water degradation. The underlying causes of hunger are more associated with poverty, institutional weaknesses and policy environments than an inability to produce enough food.
In the coming decades we need to double food availability in an environmentally and socially sustainable manner in order to alleviate hunger and under-nutrition. In addition, sustained growth in the agricultural sector is needed to reduce poverty, enhance rural livelihoods and stimulate economic growth in developing countries. While we could feed the world today with current technologies, further advances in agricultural science and technology are needed to meet future challenges. Agriculture can no longer be thought of as production alone, but the inescapable interconnectedness of agriculture’s different economic, social and environmental roles and functions must be explicitly recognised, i.e., agriculture is multifunctional. Without an appropriate enabling framework (i.e., rural development, access to markets, improved extension services, empowerment of women and trade reform), the potential of advances in agricultural science and technology will not be realised.
This increased food availability will have to be achieved at a time of less labor due to disease and rural to urban migration; less water due to increased competition from other sectors; less arable land due to competition from energy crops; high energy prices; distorted trade policies, e.g., OECD production subsidies; land policy conflicts; loss of biodiversity at the genetic, species and ecosystem level; increasing levels of air and water pollution; and human-induced climate change
Addressing the challenge of food security will require embedding economic, environmental and social sustainability into agricultural policies, practices and technologies; addressing today’s hunger problems with appropriate use of current technologies; advancing biotechnologies, which may be needed to address future demands for increased productivity and emerging issues such as climate change and new plant and animal pests, while recognizing that the risks and benefits must be fully understood; providing payments to the farmer for maintaining and enhancing ecosystem services; reforming international trade; and increasing public and private sector investment in research and development, extension services, and weather and market information.
Many of the technologies and practices we need to meet the challenge of sustainable agriculture already exist. For instance, we know how to manage soil and water more effectively to increase water retention and decrease erosion; we already have access to microbiological techniques to suppress diseases in soils and conventional biotechnology (plant breeding) can help us produce improved crop varieties. But climate change and new and emerging animal diseases are throwing up problems that we haven’t considered before and which will need advances in agricultural knowledge, science and technology to address.
Currently the most contentious issue in agricultural science is the use of recombinant DNA techniques to produce transgenic products. While GM technologies are being increasingly used in some parts of the world, in others there is strong public and political opposition.
Opening national agricultural markets to international competition can offer economic benefits, but can lead to long term negative effects on poverty alleviation, food security and the environment without basic national institutions and infrastructure being in place. Therefore, trade policy reform that provides a more equitable global trading system can help make small-scale farmers profitable and enhance the ability of developing countries to achieve food security while ensuring environmental sustainability. Developing countries would also benefit from the removal of barriers for products in which they have a competitive advantage by a reduction of escalating tariffs for processed commodities in both developed and developing countries.
The primary agricultural evidence challenge is to increase productivity in an environmentally and socially sustainable manner. This will require addressing water deficit problems, e.g., through improved drought tolerant crops, irrigation technologies, etc; improving the temperature tolerance of crops; combating new or emerging agricultural pests or diseases; addressing soil fertility, salinzation of soils and improved nutrient cycling; reducing external and energy-intensive inputs; reducing GHG emissions while maintaining productivity; improving the nutritional quality of food; reducing waste and post harvest losses; and improving food safety.
Meeting the goal of affordable nutritious food for all, in an environmentally sustainable manner is achievable. The future is not pre-ordained, but is an our collective hands. While we can build upon our successes, we must also recognise that an extrapolation of business-as-usual will not suffice. Instead, we need to be bold enough to rethink agriculture. Most importantly, if we are to help today’s and tomorrow’s poor and disadvantaged, we need to acknowledge that the time to act is now."