By the DuPont Advisory Committee on Agriculture Innovation and Productivity
Special to Roll Call
July 12, 2012, Midnight
“In a world of plenty, no one — not a single person — should go hungry.”
That was the message United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon shared with more than 40,000 people at last month’s Rio+20 conference on sustainable development.
At a time when 1.4 billion women, men and children continue to live in extreme poverty and 1 billion suffer from hunger, global leaders came together to address food and nutrition security and to renew their commitment to sustainable development around the world.
As part of this commitment, the secretary-general announced the conference’s most notable deliverable — a Zero Hunger Challenge, inviting all of us to work toward a future without hunger. Mirroring the successful Hunger Zero strategy in Brazil, the initiative aligns with the need for greater collaboration and new partnerships to eradicate hunger and malnutrition.
On July 10, the Economist Intelligence Unit (which has the same parent company as Roll Call) launched a Global Food Security Index, sponsored by DuPont, which is an example of this type of collaboration.
Meeting the Zero Hunger Challenge will require indentifying where we need food most and the barriers to getting food to people in those regions. But, importantly, we first need a common set of metrics that can define global food security. With the appropriate metrics, we can establish a baseline from which to determine the gaps in meeting growing food demands.
The Global Food Security Index is a dynamic resource that will enable the global community to better respond to world hunger by establishing a common framework of food security indicators.
As we look to innovative solutions to feed a growing population, there are many unknowns. What are the barriers to getting smallholder farmers to markets? Where should governments prioritize their resources? How should companies engage in emerging markets to empower smallholder farmers most effectively? Building on other indices and benefiting from the input of global experts in food security, the index is intended to provide answers to these and other questions.
For 105 countries, the index will measure food security based on 25 indicators across three areas that are key to a sustainable food system: affordability, availability and nutritional quality and food safety. The index’s country-by-country measures range from farmer financing to political stability to nutritional standards. Unique to this index, all of its indicators represent inputs that affect a country’s ability to address the many issues surrounding food and nutrition security, as compared to similar tools that might only measure outputs, such as rates of hunger and malnutrition or infant mortality.
Additionally, a price adjustment factor will update the index each month to reflect any changes in food prices — an indicator that has proved to hinder the access and availability of food in emerging markets.
Through the index, governments, private and public sectors, the development community, research institutions, policymakers and nongovernmental organizations alike will have a new tool that will inspire collective action. By sharing lessons learned, we can improve global food and nutrition security exponentially, while developing country-specific solutions to local challenges.
The world looks vastly different than it did during the last U.N. conference in Rio 20 years ago. Coupled with recalcitrant rates of hunger and malnutrition, the world is facing fewer resources, deteriorating ecosystems, inadequate infrastructure and growing inequalities. These social, economic and environmental challenges are inextricably linked to eliminating global hunger. Developing reliable and credible tools that can measure and assess these forces and, in turn, identify where local improvements can be made is, therefore, even more essential.
The index will enable governments to make more-informed decisions about how to feed those who live within their borders — from providing country-by-country comparisons that can justify necessary changes to restrictive policies on the movement of food and agricultural products to providing insight into where best to allocate resources based on local conditions and barriers.
Likewise, for the private sector, the index provides the opportunity for new corporate partners to engage in the developing world, aligning their business strategies with country-specific needs. And, for multinationals already committed to global food security, these companies are able to better target investments in countries that are most in need, forming new partnerships with governments and local NGOs to empower smallholder farmers and strengthen the global value chain.
Put simply, the index is a game changer that can help catalyze our progress toward eliminating global hunger in a sustainable way. At the same time, we know that no one agency, country or instrument can address the complex challenges ahead. It will take collective efforts, shared information and innovation. The Global Food Security Index is but one tool designed to catalyze innovative approaches to building economies and local food systems. With the right tools, we can keep moving toward zero hunger.
The DuPont Advisory Committee on Agriculture Innovation and Productivity represents a group of experts in global agriculture development, science, policy and economics. Established by DuPont in 2010, the committee includes former Sen. Tom Daschle, who serves as chairman; Charlotte Hebebrand, CEO of the International Food and Agriculture Trade Policy Council; J.B. Penn, chief economist for Deere and Co.; Pedro Sanchez, director of the Tropical Agricultural and the Rural Environment Program and director of the Millennium Villages Project at the Earth Institute; and Jo Luck, former president and CEO of Heifer International.
Roll Call has launched a new feature, Hill Navigator, to advise congressional staffers and would-be staffers on how to manage workplace issues on Capitol Hill. Please send us your questions anything from office etiquette, to handling awkward moments, to what happens when the work life gets too personal. Submissions will be treated anonymously.