20 February 2020
UN Agencies Explore Farm-to-Fork Policy Frameworks to Achieve SDGs 1, 2
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The interactive dialogue aimed to provide a forum to share experiences, identify challenges and explore opportunities for strengthening food systems approaches focused on improving food security and livelihoods for smallholder and family farmers.

The event built on the Buenos Aires outcome document of the Second High-Level UN Conference on South-South Cooperation, which identified agriculture, food security, nutrition and food safety as areas of mutual learning and coordination.

An interactive dialogue of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) sought to add impetus to international efforts aimed at achieving SDG 2 (zero hunger), with a focus on strengthening food systems approaches to improve food security and livelihoods for smallholder and family farmers.

UNGA President Tijjani Muhammad-Bande has highlighted targeting hunger as one of the key priorities of the Assembly’s 74th Session. According to the 2019 edition of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) ‘State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World’ report, an estimated 820 million people, primarily in Asia and Africa, suffer from hunger as measured by prevalence of undernutrition measure. Two billion people experience moderate of severe food insecurity on a regular basis.

The UNGA President called for a food systems approach, compassing all activities “from farm to fork.”

Addressing the dialogue at UN Headquarters in New York, US, on 12 February 2020, Muhammad-Bande cited the need to link SDG 1 (no poverty) and SDG 2 by focusing on mitigating hunger sustainably, creating jobs, generating incomes and contributing to poverty eradication. He emphasized that “agricultural policies are development policies,” and called for the adoption of a “food systems approach” within the international policy framework for sustainable agriculture by encompassing all the activities involved in bringing food “from farm to fork.”

FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu highlighted the launch of the Hand-in-Hand Initiative, which aims to foster the implementation of high-impact and innovative South-South and triangular cooperation projects. He explained that the initiative is designed to identify and target gaps between agricultural potential and actual development, in cases where the gap “is so large that investment can help lift people out of both poverty and hunger.”

The interactive dialogue built on the Buenos Aires outcome document of the Second High-Level UN Conference on South-South Cooperation (BAPA+40). That conference had identified agriculture, food security, nutrition and food safety as areas of mutual learning and coordination for South-South and triangular cooperation, and emphasized the value of leveraging these forms of international cooperation to promote sustainable agriculture and food systems.

During the interactive dialogue, participants called for tailored cooperation arrangements to develop local solutions that can be scaled up and propel farmers’ self-reliance, as well as fiscal support for the productive as well as social sectors of countries where food insecurity is persistent. As policy interventions to enhance the productivity and resilience of smallholder farmers, discussions highlighted access to finance and weather and risk mitigation instruments, market access and storage facilities, and locally appropriate research and technologies.

Noting that most official development assistance (ODA) focuses on the social sector, the discussions also highlighted the importance of creating “fiscal space” for agricultural investments, such as by mobilizing private finance and foreign direct investment (FDI), and addressing market failures.

A recent initiative in this regard is the launch of the Private Sector Financing Programme by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), following adoption of the Fund’s first-ever private sector engagement strategy (2019-2024). In April 2019, IFAD launched its USD 60 million Agribusiness Capital (ABC) Fund, aimed at leveraging an estimated USD 240 million in private investments in small-scale agribusinesses in Africa. The de-risking instrument has received contributions from the European Commission, Luxembourg, the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) group of states, and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).

During the 43rd session of the IFAD Governing Council, which convened from 11-12 February 2020, on the theme ‘Investment in a sustainable food system to alleviate hunger by 2030,’ IFAD President Gilbert Houngbo called on Member States to contribute to the Fund’s 12th replenishment. IFAD aims to double its impact on the lives of the world’s most marginalized people by 2030, with a proposed USD 30 billion programme of work over the next 10 years.  

The IFAD Council also approved the election of Indonesia as Chair of Governing Council for the 2020-2022 biennium. [FAO Press Release] [UNOSSC Press Release] [IISD Sources]

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