A generation ago, delegates at the World Food Summit declared that
Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.
Delegates also agreed to a seven-point plan to achieve this and called it the Rome Declaration on World Food Security that included these commitments:
- we will ensure an enabling political, social, and economic environment designed to create the best conditions for the eradication of poverty and for durable peace, based on full and equal participation of women and men, which is most conducive to achieving sustainable food security for all;
- we will implement policies aimed at eradicating poverty and inequality and improving physical and economic access by all, at all times, to sufficient, nutritionally adequate and safe food and its effective utilisation;
- we will pursue participatory and sustainable food, agriculture, fisheries, forestry and rural development policies and practices in high and low potential areas, which are essential to adequate and reliable food supplies at the household, national, regional and global levels, and combat pests, drought and desertification, considering the multifunctional character of agriculture;
- we will strive to ensure that food, agricultural trade and overall trade policies are conducive to fostering food security for all through a fair and market-oriented world trade system;
- we will endeavour to prevent and be prepared for natural disasters and man-made emergencies and to meet transitory and emergency food requirements in ways that encourage recovery, rehabilitation, development and a capacity to satisfy future needs;
- we will promote optimal allocation and use of public and private investments to foster human resources, sustainable food, agriculture, fisheries and forestry systems, and rural development, in high and low potential areas;
- we will implement, monitor, and follow-up this Plan of Action at all levels in cooperation with the international community.
In summary, poverty eradication and peace are what all sane people want (#1) and that will take both political will, specific policies and access to markets (#2). Food production and distribution is everyone’s problem (#3) and we’ll need to share (#4) especially when there are emergencies (#5). Success will require investment (#6) and we’ll need to revisit plans often (#7).
At this level food security looks like a statement of laudable intent. Something rather nice, like a lamington with your afternoon tea.
Writing in The Conversation, Rachel Norman suggests that most of the actions in the plan have not come to pass because population growth, climate change and malnutrition (both under-nutrition and obesity) exacerbated an already difficult situation. In other words, the problem just got bigger.
Alloporus agrees with Rachel Norman’s scepticism with the simple solution that
we all demand less, eat more sustainably and be more careful with our resources
is much easier said than done.
We believe that whilst there is no one magic bullet, major private investments will be critical to future food security, especially funds allocated to scale innovations
It is very risky to leave the necessary changes in production systems and supply chains to individuals and interest groups. Soon investors will need to view food security innovations as real opportunities and not just because they are profitable.