October 16, 2014
"We can say that half of the world is malnourished. There are still 800 million undernourished people in the world. But the numbers of malnourished people in the world are growing. We need a responsible private sector contributing to provide nutritious food to the people," FAO Director General Graziano Da Silva
The Committee on World Food Security (CFS) celebrates World Food Day 2014 in Rome with the presence of Queen Máxima of the Netherlands, the UN Secretary-General's Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development, and John Kufuor, Former President of the Republic of Ghana. The theme of World Food Day 2014 is Family Farming - "Feeding the world, caring for the earth" - focusing world attention on the significant role of family farming in eradicating hunger.
This year the CFS annual meeting included a delegation of 90 business representatives, including Yara, as part of the Private Sector Mechanism (PSM), a group designed to raise the profile of the private sector - and of the fertilizer industry - as actors for development and hunger eradication, at UN fora related to food and agriculture.
The CFS is the governing body for food security and nutrition worldwide. Convened in Rome at FAO headquarters, it reports to New York's ECOSOC (economic and social committee). "What is important and special about this UN institution is that it is a multi-stakeholder committee and that the private sector and civil society have a seat and voice, equal to the 193 UN governments," says Yara Director Public Affairs Natalia Federighi.
The PSM, coordinated by the International Agri-Food Network (IAFN), has made tremendous progress in recent years. Since 2010, when only two representatives attended the CFS (Natalia from Yara on behalf of the International Fertilizer Industry Association (IFA), and the president of Croplife), this has grown to 90 business delegates in 2014. More importantly, this week a new and permanent office within FAO headquarters was successfully reopened for the private sector.
"The private sector delegation had a really good meeting with Graziano Da Silva, where he encouraged us to advocate for food security and nutrition and requested support to provide solutions to the challenges we face. We also had the opportunity to highlight the contribution of fertilizers to soil health, something we will continue to do throughout the International Year of Soils in 2015," Natalia says.
Another success this week was the endorsement of the voluntary Principles for Responsible Investment in Agriculture and Food Systems (RAI). "Yara Head of Public Affairs and Industry Relations Jean Paul Beens represented IFA and the PSM at the plenary, as well as during the long and very complex negotiation process with governments and NGOs. The principles are an important milestone towards successfully achieving better food security and nutrition outcomes," Natalia explains.
The RAI principles aim to promote investment in agriculture and guide not only private sector engagement, but also that of national governments, donors, and NGOs. "The voluntary RAI principles are an internationally recognized code of good conduct that will be operationalized in the context of existing reporting mechanisms," Jean Paul Beens said.