He was speaking in a special information session organized by the WTO
Secretariat and chaired by Agriculture Division Director Clemens Boonekamp
immediately after the
Agriculture Committee’s meeting. He said the emphasis of the 2010
“Updated Comprehensive Framework for Action” has shifted.
Both versions of the plan distinguish between immediate needs to deal
with emergencies and longer term requirements. Dr Nabarro said that in 2008
the emphasis was on the need for humanitarian aid arising from soaring food
Now the framework responds to a wider range of issues that have gained
prominence. These include a stronger long term perspective aimed at making
food supply more resilient and recognition that investment in agriculture is
needed. There is also a sharper focus on the nutritional aspects of food
security, the environment, farmers and landholding, women, trade at all
levels the right to food, and improved coordination and governance, he said.
The “Framework for Action” is produced by the High Level Task Force on
the Global Food Security Crisis, which Mr Ban Ki-moon chairs himself, with
FAO Director General Jacques Diouf as vice-chair, and comprises
representatives of 22 international organizations, including the WTO. Dr
Nabarro is the coordinator.
The task force defines food security as:
- Production and availability of food
- Access to food and nutrition
- People’s use of food and nutrition to lead their lives
to the full potential
- Stability of supply
Dr Nabarro said the updated framework included more detailed treatment of
some difficult issues, where opinions differed and negotiation was needed,
such as the environmental impacts and countries’ sovereignty over food
Disagreements existed within governments, civil society groups, the media
and the 22 agencies in the task force. That meant the negotiations were
tough, but the document was produced and many are comfortable with it, he
Trade and aid for trade are important, he told the WTO audience. Local,
national and global markets have to be meaningful, prices have to send the
proper signals and farmers have to be able to work in markets that they can
use, he said.
When trade functions, farmers can use it to “capture value” as products
go through various levels of processing. Dr Nabarro said this can have more
of an impact on tackling poverty than anything else — so long as markets
The task force also strongly supports concluding the WTO negotiations.
“The Doha Round is good for poor nations,” he said.
WTO delegates from Brazil, India, Uruguay, Egypt, Pakistan and Japan
appreciated the presentation and asked questions or commented on issues such
as the impact of biofuels on food security, and whether or not developing
countries should be allowed extensive use of contingency measures such as
Some welcomed the “rarely” expressed view that trade can benefit food
security and asked for more case studies of countries that have improved
food security through trade.
Dr Nabarro said that broadly he is uncomfortable if biofuels are produced
from staple foods or pulses. If other products such as sugar are used, then
the problems are fewer, unless there is competition for land and water, he
He added that countries imposing export bans are a worry because this can
have a domino effect — other countries following the example. He said the
group would try to produce more case studies.
These are Dr Nabarro’s speaking notes:
Presentation of the Updated Comprehensive for Action
(UCFA) to WTO
18th November 2010
First of all, allow me to thank you very much indeed for this invitation.
My name is David Nabarro. I work as the United Nations Secretary General
Special Representative for Food Security and Nutrition. I am very pleased to
have such an excellent opportunity to be here, to spend a few moments
talking with you about efforts on food security undertaken by the
international community during the last three years. I would like to start
by providing some background that might be helpful.
Background: In 2008, soaring food
prices and the intensification of food crisis, with food riots reported in
more than 35 countries, called for a more sustained, action-oriented and
effective response to global food insecurity. Food systems showed they were
Since then, arrangements for responding to food insecurity challenges
looked at four different elements:
- the countries affected by food insecurity
- the investors in countries’ efforts to improve food
- the organizations that support both countries and
investors (including the UN system, regional bodies like
CAADP [Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development
Programme], CGIAR [Consultative Group on International
Agricultural Research] institutions), and
- the governance of international assistance to affected
High Level Task Force (HLTF): In
April 2008, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon established the High Level
Task Force (HLTF) on the Global Food Security Crisis. He asked 22 different
organizations, funds, programs and other entities within the United Nations
family, also the Bretton Woods institutions, the World Trade Organization,
the OECD to come together and work out how to address food insecurity in a
more sustainable, coordinated and comprehensive way.
The HLTF was designed to ensure coordinated UN system support for
governments and other stakeholders as they responded to food security crisis
and its effects among many of the world’s most vulnerable peoples.
Comprehensive Framework for Action
(CFA): One of the first tasks of the HLTF in July 2008 has been to
develop a comprehensive strategy for responses to the food security crisis.
This strategy — the Comprehensive Framework for Action (CFA) — was designed
to encourage concerted responses to the food price crisis with actions that
respond to the immediate needs of vulnerable populations and contribute to
longer-term resilience (the twin track approach).
- It served as the glue which kept the UN system together
on food security issue while encouraging synergized
system-wide support for this strategy within countries and
HLTF agencies and in engagement with civil society and
private sector partners.
- It has also been of use to governments and
development partners as they have planned strategic
responses to global food insecurity, seeking more effective
means to reduce chronic hunger (and realize the first
Millennium Development Goal).
Change is in the wind: Since 2008
there have been some changes in all of the directions identified above:
- countries affected by food
insecurity increased their attention, including political,
to food and nutrition security
- investors in countries’ efforts to improve food
security pledged support (EUFF [European Union Food
Facility], AFSI [Aquila Food Security Initiative], GAFSP
[Global Agriculture and Food Security Program]) and agreed
on adopting 5 principles to guide future work: country based
programming with countries in the lead; comprehensive
approaches; multilateral actions; coordinated efforts by
everybody and increased investments;
- the organizations that support both countries and
investors underwent important reforms (CGIAR) or further
synchronized their work on food and nutrition security
(HLTF, SUN [Scaling-up Nutrition], AU [African Union], APEC
[Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation], ASEAN [Association of
Southeast Asian Nations]) and
- the governance of international assistance to affected
countries (CFS [FAO’s Committee on World Food Security]
Updating the CFA: As the food
security context changed between 2008 and 2010, there was a growing sense
that the CFA would need to be updated to take into account the superposition
of economic, climate, environment and food crises and the evolving debates
about the relative importance of different drivers for the food crisis and
better reflect the importance of some dimensions — particularly the
nutrition dimensions of food security, the right to food, women and food
security and environmental dimensions of food production — in the approach.
Towards the end of 2009, the HLTF asked that the CFA be updated to better
reflect ways in which UN System acts to tackle food and nutrition
insecurity. The process of updating the CFA has been conducted by the HLTF
agencies with the active and constructive involvement of stakeholders from
governments, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), civil society
organizations (CSOs), smallholder farmers’ organizations and the private
CFA and UCFA: Compared to the
2008 CFA, the Updated CFA is still based on the twin track approach, but it
covers a wider range of issues and contains a more detailed treatment of all
aspects of food and nutrition security, including increased focus on
ecosystem management, access to as well as tenure and ownership of land,
water security, nutrition, urban hunger, pastoralists, gender, private
sector involvement, trade and environmental sustainability, employment and
right to food approach.
It acknowledges that, while States have the primary role in ensuring food
and nutrition security for all, a multiplicity of other actors have vital
contributions to make.
As for its predecessor the Updated Comprehensive Framework for Action is
now being pursued throughout the United Nations family. What we do in this
comprehensive framework while emphasizing growing complexity beyond food
issues is seeing the four dimensions of food security as one complete whole.
- the production of food
- ensuring that people can access the food they
need; and get the nutrients they require;
- once they have consumed that food, those nutrients are
available to enable them to lead their life to their full
- and then there is stability of supplies over time.
I am stressing those four dimensions because what we have learnt is that
for good nutritional outcomes, food security has to address the four
dimensions. It is not sufficient to think only in terms of how much food has
been produced by a country or even how much food is accessible to a
community. We have to keep the whole picture in mind.
Trade issues and UCFA: Improving
the stability of food supplies (forth component stressed above) to ensure
food security requires both local and international food markets to work
Trade is a fundamental part of the food security equation. Locally,
well-functioning food markets and trade have huge potential to increase
small farmers’ integration into value chains so as to increase their value
capture (capacity building for their umbrella/apex organizations will be
needed to fully exploit the potential).
UCFA promotes regional political and economic integration and better
functioning environments for trade, especially for food.
At the international level, well-functioning food markets can help trade
benefit LDCs [least-developed countries] and their farmers if those are
assisted with proper policy measures on research, infrastructures, extension
services, nutritional food security just to mention a few (all of which in
the green box of WTO ie, non-distorting [domestic support]).
Again capacities will have to be built for LDCs to realize increasing
benefits from trade. UCFA calls for more “aid for trade” and for better
trade financing infrastructure among others.
The Doha Round can provide a huge opportunity for trade negotiations to
serve the interests of the LDCs by increasing uniformity of treatment and
At the same time, trade policies need to increasingly be assessed in
their impact on food security (and some would even say in their potential to
favour the realization of the right to food of people): food security can
offer a privileged perspective to appreciate the real cost of subsidies and
bans in higher income and/or producing countries; or to frame the debate
about (small) food emergency reserve, or to promote debate on coherence
between agricultural and trade policies.
Finally, stability of food supply also calls for a tighter oversight of
the speculation in international commodity markets as exacerbated price
volatility has shown to penalize small food producers who are all too often
net food buyers. Limit the scope for excessive speculation in food markets
is one element of the UCFA as it is becoming one element for debate in many
other arenas (G8/G20/CFS etc.).
Finally, while higher prices in agriculture can stimulate investments in
the longer-term and therefore benefit small farmers, there are many
non-price variables determining farmers’ choices (land tenure security,
access to credit, access to inputs etc.) that also need to be addressed by
appropriate agricultural/food security policies.
UCFA Dissemination: The Updated
Comprehensive Framework for Action was presented at the last 36th meeting of
the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) (Rome, 11-14 and 16 October
2010). It was offered to the CFS Chair to help inform the development of the
CFS Global Strategic Framework for Food Security and Nutrition.
This was well received and debates during the CFS week highlighted the
importance of nutrition, land issues, social protection, women role and
environmental issues to tackle food insecurity. The importance of
inter-sector linkages was stressed as well as a strong encouragement to
pursue efforts for coordinated actions by the UN supporting the engagement
of governments alongside civil society, farmers’ organizations, private
sector and research institutions.
The Updated CFA is particularly designed to aid coordination among HLTF
member agencies at country level. It is a guiding strategic document for the
HLTF but it has been released as a public good seeking to encourage a
coordinated engagement by multiple stakeholders and to improve
accountability of the international system on food and nutrition security.
The HLTF Coordination Team together with HLTF Agencies is undertaking
specific actions to disseminate the use of the UCFA as a tool for
stimulating and supporting a comprehensive and partnership approach for food
and nutrition security at global, regional and country-level.
We are seeking to encourage an effective pursuit of comprehensive and
twin-track approaches within intergovernmental organizations involved in
economic, development, agriculture, food, social welfare, health and
It is crucial to catalyze, encourage and support efforts to create
awareness of and political support for the principles and objectives
included in the UCFA among the HLTF agencies as a first priority but also
among the broader range of stakeholders at country, regional and global
levels towards the realization of agreed outcomes.
The World Trade Organization has been an active and constructive actor
throughout the process of updating the Comprehensive Framework for Action.
It is now to us to maintain the momentum and facilitate the dissemination
and monitoring of the use of the CFA in its updated form.
I trust you will all stay engaged in this process as your support in the
progressive synchronization of food and trade agendas and debates will
reveal being crucial.
Allow me to congratulate with you as events as such the one we are
attending today represents an important milestone towards the mainstreaming
of UCFA principles and the achievement of its outcomes.