A High-Level Event organised by the European Union (EU) to be held in Brussels on 25 April 2016 will launch four major initiatives: on resilience to global food crises, agri-finance, nutrition and agricultural research. Entitled Innovative Ways for Sustainable Nutrition, Food Security and Inclusive Agricultural Growth, the meeting is being organised by the Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development, European Commission, in partnership with CTA. More than 150 policy-makers from EU Member States and institutions, partner countries and other stakeholders will attend.
As well as launching the initiatives, the event will update the audience on progress made so far in the four areas and showcase practical examples from the field. A high-level panel will present various perspectives from the development and business worlds, and subsequent parallel sessions will allow participants to discuss suggestions to guide the future activities of the European Commission (EC) in the four strategic areas.
The four initiatives
Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) while coping with the challenges of climate change will require a profound transformation of agricultural practices, natural resource management and policies in developing countries. Food and nutrition security and sustainable agriculture are among the EU's top development priorities for 2015–2020. The EU development policy Agenda for Change identifies sustainable agriculture as key in driving poverty reduction and economic development. The EU pledged to spend €3.5 billion from 2014 to 2020 in reducing undernutrition in some of the world's poorest countries.
Resilience to global food crises
In 2016, 240 million people across 45 countries are experiencing food stress; 80 million of them are described as being in 'food crisis.' Over half (close to 142 million) are in countries affected by El Niño.
The 2015–16 El Niño cycle has been a driver of food crises around the world. However, other factors, such as conflicts, migration and socio-economic shocks, have also impacted heavily on the livelihoods of people in many areas of the world, often at the same time as extreme weather events. This extreme situation calls for a concerted, global response to food crises in the world, no matter the cause.
A new initiative from the EU is focusing on how best to support affected countries in tackling the consequences of El Niño and other major drivers of food crisis.
Addressing the governance and accountability gap in nutrition
Effective governance, across all basic sectors, is a prerequisite for the sustainable elimination of hunger and malnutrition. This requires concerted attention to institutional and individual capacities and the overall architecture within which they operate, as well as strong government leadership and commitment.
The EU has developed a number of programmes and new partnerships that specifically address institutional and capacity constraints to effective nutrition governance, including the National Information Platforms for Nutrition (NIPN) flagship initiative, the Food Fortification Facility and the FIRST initiative, and is supporting global governance initiatives for nutrition such as the Scaling Up Nutrition movement.
Agricultural research for development
Research and innovation are vital to drive the transformative change required to achieve food and nutrition security. The EU supports numerous global and regional agricultural research for development initiatives, including the CGIAR, the Global Forum for Agricultural Research (GFAR) and African research organisations supporting the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) process, both through funding and engagement with governance bodies.
The EU's investment is aimed at ensuring that knowledge resulting from research and farmers' experience is managed and shared, that new technologies are disseminated to farmers through rural advisory services and the rural community, and that all stakeholders have the capacity to innovate and to make informed choices, whether these are at the level of household livelihoods or national policies. The EU's strategy is firmly anchored in smallholder production systems, sustainable intensification and value chains, and the stability of food systems. Appropriate governance of agricultural research is needed to ensure that the interests of the poor and food insecure are addressed.
Agricultural finance and the private sector
The private sector has a key role to play as an engine of inclusive and equitable growth through generating jobs, contributing to public revenue and providing affordable goods and services. 'Blending' – the combination of EU grants with loans – leverages additional resources for development and increases the impact of EU aid. The EU acts as a catalyst for private financing through greater use of financial instruments such as guarantees, equity and other risk-sharing instruments for investments. The EU's new Agriculture Finance Initiative (AgriFI) is aimed at increasing investment in smallholder agriculture and agribusiness. A central feature of AgriFI is mobilising additional public and private investment, in particular through the provision of risk capital, guarantees or other risk-sharing mechanisms. The EU is allocating over €2 billion to private-sector development for 2014–2020 through dedicated thematic and national programmes. The EC estimates that EU grants could leverage total investments of up to €100 billion from additional public and private sources through blending – the combination of EU grants with loans or equity from other public and private financiers.
Watch the event's live stream on Monday 25 April from 09:30 to 17:00 https://livestream.com/streaming/EUagri4dev
- European Commission. 2011. Communication from the Commission to the European parliament, the Council, The European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions. Increasing the impact of EU Development Policy: An Agenda for Change. COM/2011/0637 final.
- EuropeAid. 2014. Research and Innovation for sustainable agriculture and nutrition security.
- European Commission. 2014. A Stronger Role of the Private Sector in Achieving Inclusive and Sustainable Growth in Developing Countries. COM/2014/0263 final.
- CTA/DEVCO/ACP/CONCORD. May 2015. Brussels Briefing. Improving nutrition through accountability, ownership and partnerships.
- CTA/DEVCO/ACP/CONCORD. February 2015. Brussels Briefing. Data: the next revolution for agriculture in ACP countries?