On February 1, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs launched a new blog series, A Food-Secure Future, to explore the challenges that threaten global food security and the opportunities that exist to overcome hunger and malnutrition once and for all. We will publish one post each week addressing these issues, and our series will culminate with the release of a new Council report at the Global Food Security Symposium 2017. Join the discussion using #GlobalAg, and tune in to the symposium live stream on March 30.
In this series, we’ve discussed the valuable contributions being made to global food security and agricultural development by a number of actors: private sector, multilateral institutions, governments of both high and low-income countries. But it’s important to note that many of these contributions have been catalyzed by action on the part of the G7 and G20. Today, we’ll talk about major commitments secured by these global blocs, and the ways in which they’ve influenced major players in the agriculture and food security space.
To get definitions out of the way:
The G7 (formerly the G8, before Russia’s infamous exit in 2014) is comprised of the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom. As industrialized democracies, these countries are significant donors of global development aid.
The G20 represents the governments of 20 top economies, including countries such as Argentina, Australia, the United States, India, Mexico, and China, and the European Union. These entities are major actors in the global food system, and as such the G20 has maintained a role in helping to secure global food production, food security and nutrition, and rural livelihoods.
The L’Aquila Summit: Critical Commitments to Global Food Security
The 2009 G8 Summit hosted in L’Aquila, Italy saw tremendous commitments to food security and agricultural development in the wake of the 2007-08 food price crisis. Galvanized by an initial 3-year commitment of $3 billion by the United States, donor countries pledged a total of $22 billion to what became known as the L’Aquila Food Security Initiative (AFSI).
Several efforts emerged from this commitment, including the Feed the Future Initiative—the United States' whole-of-government poverty and hunger alleviation program—and GAFSP—the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program.
Administered by the World Bank, GAFSP coordinates with national governments and ministries of agriculture to finance gaps in agricultural development assistance. After L’Aquila, its creation was reaffirmed by the 2009 G20 Summit in Pittsburgh, and it launched with $880 million in commitments from the United States, Canada, Spain, South Korea, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. In its first call for proposals, GAFSP reached 7.5 million beneficiaries in 12 countries with irrigation and drainage services. Today, GAFSP operates with $1.52 billion to fund public and private sector efforts for global food security throughout supply chains. Its private sector financing has proven particularly effective, with every $1 of GAFSP investment leveraging $8 in additional financing.
Ultimately, the L’Aquila Summit marked the beginning of a global movement to end hunger and poverty through agriculture-led development. As of 2015, AFSI donors had disbursed 93 percent of the pledges made at L’Aquila—and achieved real progress in attracting new investments, and greater accountability, to the field.
In the years since L’Aquila…
G20 efforts on behalf of food security have continued steadily. The G20 has issued yearly action plans and reports focused on agriculture and food, most notably the 2011 Action Plan on Food Price Volatility and Agriculture—which focused on boosting smallholder productivity, especially among women and youth, as well as technology transfer and public-private partnerships—and the 2014 G20 Food Security and Nutrition Framework—which aimed to increase responsible investments in food systems in partnership with the private sector.
In 2012, the then G8 launched the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition alongside African leaders—signaling a shared commitment to raise 50 million people out of poverty within ten years. The G8 also announced efforts to collaborate with African governments and their agricultural priorities, as well as a plan to mobilize private capital for food security. In 2015, the G7 set a goal of lifting 500 million people out of hunger and malnutrition by 2030, and pledged to work with multilateral organizations, civil society partners, and existing efforts like CAADP and the Scaling Up Nutrition Movement to achieve this goal. It also identified female empowerment, nutrition, and resilience in agricultural systems as key focus areas.
So far, in 2017, the G20’s January meeting of its Agricultural Ministers yielded a commitment to contribute to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and included a focus on responsible water management, information and communication technologies in agriculture, research collaboration, and antimicrobial resistance. Meanwhile, the G7 will return to Italy in 2017 to build on promises related to food security and agricultural development—to not only meet bold goals set in 2015, but to address the hunger crisis spreading across the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa.
A Rallying Force
In the past decade, G7 and G20 efforts have rallied significant funds for food security and agricultural development. They’ve served as collaboration networks, bringing together bilateral donors, multilaterals like the World Bank, and civil society and private sector actors to work together on hunger and poverty alleviation. They’ve set the tone for global action on these issues. Looking forward, their continued leadership on food security, agriculture, and the many challenges faced by our food system—challenges that will demand the undivided attention of the global community—will be critical to ending hunger and malnutrition for good.