Council Expands Program to Support a Renewed U.S. Focus on Global Agricultural Development; Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Grant Will Fund the Three-Year Initiative

 

December 23, 2010 – The Chicago Council on Global Affairs today announced it has received a $2.25 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The grant enables the Council to expand its Global Agricultural Development Initiative which supports a renewed U.S. focus on agricultural development as a means to increase food security, alleviate global poverty and spur economic development.  The Initiative provides support, technical assistance and innovation towards the formulation and implementation of U.S. global agricultural development policies and offers external evaluation and accountability for U.S. progress on its policy commitments.      

Catherine Bertini, former executive director of the UN World Food Program, and Dan Glickman, former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, serve as co-chairs of the project.  An Advisory Group comprised of 18 members of national and international stature drawn from government, business, civic, academic and NGO circles will provide leadership, strategic oversight and guidance for all project activities.  Please see below for a list of advisory group members.

In addition, Dr. Robert L. Thompson, professor emeritus of agricultural policy at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has joined The Chicago Council as a senior fellow for global agricultural development and food security.  Roger Thurow, former Wall Street Journal correspondent and coauthor of the influential book Enough: Why the World’s Poorest Starve in an Age of Plenty, continues his role as senior fellow for global agriculture and food policy. David Joslyn, who has over 40 years experience in international development and agriculture issues, also will serve on the project’s leadership team.

“The Chicago Council is pleased to receive support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to further advance its work on food security issues,” said Marshall M. Bouton, president of The Chicago Council on Global Affairs.  “This project will help establish agricultural development as a leading and long term strategy of the United States for reduction of hunger, poverty, and malnutrition in developing nations.”

A number of policy developments indicate that the United States is beginning to recognize the transformational role agriculture can play in addressing the challenge of global poverty:  President Obama called for a doubling of U.S. support for agricultural development in 2010 at the G-20 summit in April 2009; the U.S. Administration rolled out its initial strategic and implementation thinking on the Feed the Future initiative in May 2010; and both the House and Senate have considered legislation to enhance support for agricultural development. However, to ensure these advances are realized in a way that can have a tangible impact on global poverty during a time of economic uncertainty, further policy innovation, sustained political and financial support, and accountability of U.S. policy for agricultural development and food security is needed. 

“U.S. leadership is key to ensuring agricultural development receives the long-term policy attention and resources needed to reduce global poverty and hunger over the long term,” said Glickman.  “The next three years will be critical in determining whether the new U.S. impetus for leadership in agricultural development and food security will become a prominent, effective, and lasting feature of U.S. development policy.”

Over the last two years, food security has risen to the top of the agenda of global issues that need urgent national and international attention.  Prompted by the food price crisis of 2008, the increase in the number of people living in abject poverty rose to over 1 billion in 2009, and the need to nearly double food production to meet global demand by 2050, world leaders are giving new attention to agricultural development in poor regions and the sufficiency and sustainability of the world’s food supply.

“Agricultural development is the essential first step to alleviate extreme poverty and hunger in developing nations,” said Bertini.  “We have the knowledge, tools and resources necessary to solve global hunger, but what is needed is sustained momentum in U.S. policy toward supporting agriculture as a poverty alleviation tool.”

The Chicago Council’s three year initiative draws upon its previous work on agricultural development.  In 2009, the Council released the study Renewing American Leadership in the Fight Against Global Hunger and Poverty, which provided a strategic plan for how the U.S. government could more effectively alleviate global poverty through a re-focusing of U.S. foreign assistance on agriculture.  In May 2010, it hosted the first annual Symposium on Global Agriculture and Food Security, which served as the platform for the release of the Obama administration’s Feed the Future Guide and discussed how to overcome challenges to the initiative’s implementation.

Learn more about the Global Agricultural Development Initiative at www.thechicagocouncil.org/globalagdevelopment.

Global Agricultural Development Initiative Advisory Group Chairs
• Catherine Bertini, former executive director, UN World Food Program
• Dan Glickman, former secretary, U.S. Department of Agriculture

Members
• Doug Bereuter, former member, U.S. House of Representatives
• John Carlin, visiting professor and executive-in-residence, Kansas State University
• Wendy J. Chamberlin, president, Middle East Institute
• Jason Clay, senior vice president, Market Transformation, World Wildlife Fund
• Gordon Conway, professor of International Development, Imperial College London
• Gebisa Ejeta, distinguished professor of Plant Breeding and Genetics, Purdue University
• Mark E. Keenum, president, Mississippi State University
• Jo Luck, president, Heifer International
• Earl Pomeroy, former member, U.S. House of Representatives
• Kenneth M. Quinn, president, The World Food Prize Foundation
• Paul Schickler, president, Pioneer Hi-Bred
• Ritu Sharma, co-founder and president, Women Thrive Worldwide
• Robert L. Thompson, professor emeritus of Agricultural Policy, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
• Ann Veneman, former executive director, United Nations Children’s Fund
• Joachim von Braun, director, Center for Development Research, University of Bonn
• Derek Yach, senior vice president, Global Health and Agriculture Policy, PepsiCo

This grant is part of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Agricultural Development initiative, which is working with a wide range of partners to provide millions of small farmers in the developing world with tools and opportunities to boost their yields, increase their incomes and build better lives for themselves and their families. The foundation is working to strengthen the entire agricultural value chain—from seeds and soil to farm management and market access—so that progress against hunger and poverty is sustainable over the long term.

About The Chicago Council on Global Affairs
Founded in 1922 as The Chicago Council on Foreign Relations, The Chicago Council on Global Affairs is one of the oldest and most prominent international affairs organizations in the United States. Independent and nonpartisan, The Chicago Council is committed to influencing the discourse on global issues through contributions to opinion and policy formation, leadership dialogue, and public learning. 

CONTACT: Samantha Skinner 312.821.7507

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