domingo, julio 12, 2009


The Oakland Institute Reporter

A New Briefing Paper From the Oakland Institute Questions the G8's Political Intent to Combat Hunger

This briefing paper was first published by the Foreign Policy in Focus

Oakland, CA: The latest G8 extravaganza in L'Aquila, Italy from July 8-10, 2009 will highlight a new initiative to fight hunger that seeks a more coordinated approach to food aid and development. Reports suggest that the United States will announce a "significant" increase in funding for agricultural development aid along with multi-year commitments from other G8 countries to reach a $15 billion target that will be pooled in a global agriculture and food security trust fund and administered by the World Bank.

Proposals to challenge hunger have become a key agenda item at international conferences since the 2008 food crisis. The G8's performance on past commitments, however, casts a shadow on the sincerity of its intentions. At the height of the 2008 food crisis, G8 leaders highlighted food security at their summit in Hokkaido, Japan. The summit cost over $600 million - compared to the $400 million annual budget of the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) with nearly half of the budget spent on a massive security operation involving some 21,000 police officers, coast guard, and soldiers. With much fanfare, the G8 communiqué on global food security committed $10 billion for food and agricultural aid to increase agricultural production in developing countries. Despite the media glitz around the announcement, this was not new money, but a mere adding up of aid already pledged by the G8 countries. The G8 communiqué also made a commitment to "reverse the overall decline of aid and investment in the agricultural sector..." But the commitment failed to list any specific dollar amounts and with no timeline. Similarly, at the 2005 summit, the G8 promised to double aid to Africa by 2010, but members have failed to fulfill their pledges.

Despite commitments, pledges, and grandiose communiqués by rich nations to challenge hunger, 2009 has witnessed a historic high in hunger - 1.02 billion people are estimated to go hungry every day. The problem lies in the fallacy of explanations offered to explain the hunger crisis and in the promotion of market and technology-based solutions. The latest G8 effort is more of the same. Recommendations that focus on sustainability and boosting poor peoples incomes have yet to make it to the G8 agenda. If the G8 is indeed committed to ending hunger, the member countries must stop the steady drumbeat of proselytizing for free markets and technological solutions to hunger and instead implement the findings and recommendations of IAASTD, for instance. More important, a genuine commitment will require recognizing the need for developing countries to have policy space to determine agricultural policies that meet the needs of their populations; implement a genuine agrarian reform that will ensure farmers' rights to land, water, seeds and other resources; ensure that the local products are competitive; see that farmers' livelihoods and incomes are sustained; and assure national food security. In short, instead of promoting their old failed "development" formulas in new clothing, the G8 need to take responsibility and support governments in developing countries to put in place or restore sustainable and resilient agricultural systems.

For more information contact Anuradha Mittal (510) 469-5228


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