Fisheries are an important source of protein for many of the world’s poorest and a vital contributor to food security. But at the same time they face threats from overfishing, pollution and climate change. Following on the heels of FAO’s recent release of the State of the World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2012, the US Agency for International Development is hosting an event on July 25th on the challenges and opportunities related to global fisheries. The event will provide concrete examples of fisheries sector reform and marine resources management from USAID programs in West Africa and South Asia. Similarly, an article published this month on PLoS ONE argues that the benefits of rebuilding global fisheries outweigh the costs.
Guest blog post written by Brendan Rice, a student at the University of Alabama at Birmingham currently working as an intern in FAO’s Washington office. Originally posted at the Universities Fighting World Hunger Blog.
The Chicago Council on Global Affairs’ annual symposium, Advancing Food and Nutrition Security at the 2012 G8 Summit, brought together G8 and African leaders, international organizations, businesses, and civil society to emphasize the importance of agricultural development and nutrition security.
As a student and a member of the growing Universities Fighting World Hunger movement, this event was incredibly powerful and motivating. As students, we frame hunger as a structural issue. Food price volatility and under-investment in agricultural sectors of developing countries are structural issues that continue the crisis of hunger. These underlying causes of hunger can seem infinitely enormous and complex, but the symposium leading up to the G8 Summit at Camp David gives context and invigorates the work that we all do towards making hunger a distant memory. At the symposium, leaders including President Obama, Secretary Clinton, and the rock star Bono showed that advancing food security is a priority. The work that we do on our campuses is not done in isolation. Instead, we are tapping into an energy that is now emanating from the highest levels of power.
At the symposium, President Obama laid out the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, which builds off the commitments made at L’Aquila. The new phase of this shared initiative towards global food security focuses on empowering agricultural growth through country plans, private sector involvement, and G8 commitments.
Framing hunger as a solvable problem is central to the work that we do as students. As a human family, we have the tools, resources, and knowledge to end hunger in our world of plenty. This issue is not necessarily about coming up with a solution. Instead, it is about advancing the steps we already know work to end hunger through creating the public and political will to do so. The symposium and Obama’s announcement set up a framework of global imperatives.
Despite the diverse ideas and sectors represented, there were a number of themes that emerged throughout the symposium, many of which were clearly outlined in Secretary Clinton’s closing speech. These included a focus on smallholder farmers, nutrition with a focus on the first 1000 days of life, and the importance of women in food security. The heads of state of Ethiopia, Ghana, and Tanzania all made clear the importance of investing in the agricultural productivity of smallholder farmers, many of whom are women.
The framework is in place, and now it is time to move towards action. During his speech at the symposium, President Obama called for “all hands on deck.” Students and future leaders are central to maintaining the commitments made and continuing to demand a food-secure world. Secretary Clinton laid out the challenge succinctly in her speech at the symposium. By 2050, there will be 9 billion people on the planet, and agricultural productivity must increase by 70 percent in order to keep pace. Bono stated that this challenge can and will be met, but not without Africa. Bono reminded us that the issue of hunger sears our collective conscience, so as a collective soul, this challenge is one that we must confront.
Representing students from around the world, Universities Fighting World Hunger is moving through strong conviction and grounded motivation to end hunger. To borrow a thought from Secretary Clinton, what can hold us back can be as simple as “plain old inertia.” In this we find hope because as part of the next generation of leaders, the inertia of the morally outrageous status quo of 1 billion people going hungry will be replaced by the exhilarating possibility of a fair and just global food system.
From 20 to 22 March, the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Bureau for Food Security is holding an “AgExchange” on current practices, challenges, tools and approaches in knowledge sharing for food security and agriculture programs. Weigh in with your perspective and experiences on the USAID Agrilinks website (registration is required to comment).
According to USAID, the auction, which runs through 18 December, “features exclusive items and experiences from MTV artists and show talent” such as Snooki, Rob Dyrdek, Nick Jonas and Kelly Clarkson.
Proceeds will go to a group of eight organizations, including the American Refugee Committee, CARE, Catholic Relief Services, Mercy Corps, Save the Children, World Vision, UNICEF USA, and World Food Program USA.
The auction is part of the USAID and Ad Council FWD (Famine, War, Drought) Campaign. Launched in September, it is aimed at raising awareness of the crisis in the Horn of Africa and linking Americans to actions that can help those in need.
A seminar on fostering the seed industry will be held in Washington on 14 December, centering on findings in a policy brief on the industry produced by the Enabling Agricultural Trade Project, a U.S. Agency for International Development initiative, and Iowa State University’s Seed Science Center.
The brief, Building an Enabling Environment for Seed Sector Growth, says the industry needs policies focused on initial support to the private sector while allowing it to adapt to the market and develop independently through a transparent, rules-based legal and regulatory system, instead of advancing government control and supervision.
Further information, including registration links, is available here.
World Food Program USA awarded its George McGovern Leadership Award to philanthropists Howard Buffett and Bill Gates for their contributions to the global hunger fight. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton presented the awards, saying that “ending hunger is not only possible, but it is both a moral and strategic imperative.”
Secretary Clinton then joined Buffet, Gates and WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran for a conversation on efforts to address global hunger and create economic opportunity by helping small scale farmers through initiatives like WFP’s Purchase for Progress program. (View the webcast.)
In his keynote address, Vice President Joe Biden recounted a story that his wife, Jill, heard during a recent trip to the Horn of Africa from a Somali woman who was forced to leave one of her two children behind because she could no longer carry them both.
“No human being should ever have to make a choice like that,” Biden said. “A tragedy like that is a stain on the conscience of the world.”
The event also featured a panel discussion highlighting private sector efforts to address global hunger. Participants included former Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman, Buffett, Chairman and CEO of Cargill Greg Page, and USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah. (View the webcast.)
FAO’s Director General recently called for “adequate and predictable funding” to combat the food crisis in the Horn of Africa. Other organizations have also devoted attention to the issue of aid dollars going towards the drought and famine in Africa. USAID has set up a Famine, War, Drought (FWD) relief website to facilitate donations. The ONE campaign took an infographics approach to analyzing national contributions to the aid effort.