Mr. Marí, what happened at the alternative summit?

Brot für die Welt (Bread for the World) did not attend the UNFSS pre-summit in Rome. Instead, the aid organisation took part in a counter-summit. The following conversation with Francisco Marí touched on the reasons for this, the course of events and the outlook for the future.

Vom 25. bis 28. Juli 2021 beteiligten sich laut eigenen Angaben rund 9.000 Menschen an einer überwiegend virtuellen Veranstaltung gegen den Vorgipfel der Vereinten Nationen für Ernährungssysteme (UNFSS) ©2021 FOOD SYSTEMS 4 PEOPLE

Francisco Marí

Francisco Marí has been working since 2009 as a project officer for lobby and advocacy work in the areas of global nutrition, Agricultural Trade and Maritime Policy at Brot für die Welt (Bread for the World) in the Protestant Agency for Diakonia and Development, focusing on food security, artisanal fisheries, WTO, EU-Africa trade and fisheries agreements, deep-sea mining and the effects of food standards on small-scale producers.

Brot für die Welt (BfdW)

Brot für die Welt

Jan Rübel

Jan Rübel is author at Zeitenspiegel Reportagen, a columnist at Yahoo and writes for national newspapers and magazines. He studied History and Middle Eastern Studies.

Mr Marí, your organisation attended the counter-summit to the UNFSS pre-summit. Do you feel that the event went well?

It was a difficult situation. It was no easy decision to counter an initiative of the UN Secretary-General with an alternative summit. After all, we not only support the UN in principle – we are also part of their civic process. We are represented in New York by our church network and for decades we have held most of the same positions as the UN in the debate around nutrition policy. We deeply regretted having to make this decision regarding this summit on food systems and the way in which it was planned and arranged.

 


Did you take a long time to arrive at your decision not to attend?

We had a lengthy dialogue about it, particularly with the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), as well as Special Envoy Agnes Kalibata. We tried very hard to reach an agreement, but sadly our objections fell on deaf ears. As a result, it was a very late decision to give airtime to our, and our partners’, stances and reveal our counterproposals with a parallel event. I am very pleased with how this went, and I’m surprised at how quickly we were able to organise it. There were also a great many scientists in attendance who put forward their suggestions. We engaged in intense discussion. We were unable to reach a complete consensus, of course, but that is not our aim. There are numerous food systems, which can be improved in numerous ways. Nevertheless, everyone at the alternative summit shared a commitment to making decisions on the basis of our human rights obligations, not only regarding the people suffering from hunger, but also regarding the rights of food producers, as adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2018.

 


What are some things you didn’t agree on?

In discussions about organic farming, there were some parties calling for agroecology certificates, while others insisted that we cannot currently turn to these. There was also a lot of debate about seed, specifically how well producers’ own, locally cultivated seed can cope with challenges like climate change, how much research is needed in this area and to what extent this research should remain the remit of the state, while also considering how farmers’ rights can be bolstered. Incidentally, a Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) project funded by the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) revealed the promise of this kind of approach. Brot für die Welt wants to see more projects like this.  

 


How many people attended the summit?

We had a bit of trouble with the virtual format. For the conferences of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS), the leading platform for global nutrition, the civil society’s representatives elected at the FAO regional conferences usually travel to Rome a week before the conferences start in order to prepare together. Face-to-face contact and interaction are very important for us, and sadly this wasn’t possible this year. This made it harder for indigenous groups and smallholders to play a significant part in proceedings. These virtual formats pushed by the UNFSS during the Covid-19 pandemic are another point of contention for us.  Many partners are hindered in their participation not only by time differences, but also unreliable and expensive internet connections.  However, considering these challenges, we were very pleased that the individual events were attended by anywhere from 600 to 1,500 people. The livestream received over 9,000 views over the course of the three days.

 


What insights and conclusions were taken from the counter-summit?

That the agricultural industry as an actor should not be treated the same way as those affected by hunger. The alternative summit campaigned for a variety of approaches, but these were based on rights, rather than commercial interests. This is why it was repeatedly argued that we should give those affected a voice and the ability to partake in decision-making, as takes place at the CFS, in order to ensure the future preservation of smallholder production.

So why are you not attending the summit in Rome?

 

This is ultimately down to the approach being unviable.

 

We simply cannot accept corporate interests being equated with human rights, which we have been fighting for for years in our attempts to tackle poverty. Ending world hunger is not just an idea – it’s an obligation, grounded in the human right to food.


But that’s what the summit was dedicated to.

No, this is where the disagreement lies. To me, the pre-summit seemed more like an initiative, where everyone can put forward their ideas, without proper heed being given to who has rights and who has obligations. Starving people have a human right to receive nutrition, whereas the private sector is duty-bound to adhere to laws and pay taxes. Jeffrey Sachs made this clear at the pre-summit, but the event did not reflect this. Meanwhile, the CFS has established exemplary structures for the development and adoption of political decisions that contribute to the fulfilment of the right to food. The UNFSS has not considered these structures at any point.

 

After all the criticism directed at the processes and structures of the UNFSS since 2019, I get the impression that they were consciously and deliberately disregarded.

 

The right to food was never at the heart of the UNFSS. You needn’t look further than the various critical statements made by UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Michael Fakhri.

 

Did the agricultural industry have a large presence in Rome?

It didn’t have much direct representation at the official summit events, but it has well-established support at the heart of the UNFSS structures, from the Special Envoy to the Scientific Board.  It also dominated the side events: I was shocked at the lack of involvement from NGOs. And of course there were nation states present who have strong ties to the agricultural industry, such as Argentina and the USA.

 


Even at the decisive “main events”, I got the impression that economic actors were a clear minority.

The World Economic Forum (WEF), the stooge for the summit, withdrew when it was no longer necessary for it to present ideas. These ideas were taken on and, as I said previously, many decisive positions for the UNFSS are held by people who have shared interests with the WEF, as well as other trade associations led by the World Business Council – the UN lobbying tool of the world’s largest corporations. And criticism of the agricultural industry’s involvement also led to changes, especially in the summit’s action tracks. Some indigenous groups and NGOs decided to attend – at least those who tend to be active within this construct of the multi-stakeholder approach. A specific section of the scientific community was also present at the summit: one that assists the industry in the development of technocratic proposals and solutions built around new genetic-engineering technologies.

 


Agroecology was another heavily discussed topic at the summit.

To start with, we were very pleased to learn that Senegal wants to lead the agroecology coalition. However, we had already engaged very thoroughly in these debates at the FAO and the CFS together with the producers. So this begs the question: isn’t this coalition merely a copy, or a weakened version, of the FAO’s “Scaling-up Agroecology Initiative” put in place several years ago? We have been calling on the BMZ to boost their support for this initiative for some time.  We don’t need a new UNFSS coalition for that! In fact, the UNFSS process has actively damaged agroecology. For example, just a few weeks ago, CFS policy recommendations on agroecology were subordinated to the UNFSS. In addition, negotiations were supposed to have concluded before the pre-summit. Now we have policy recommendations on agroecology that no longer correspond to those of the High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition (HLPE), and as such do not receive backing from the civil society. One of the reasons for this was that the section on pesticides actually fell short of existing UN agreements. Who benefits from this dilution? The agrochemical sector, of course!  

 


So why not attend the pre-summit in Rome and the summit in New York to advocate for the fulfilment of human rights obligations and agroecology?

Because the UNFSS construct is not inclusive and still doesn’t even have clear rules and structures for co-determination. You get invited to take part, but not in any meaningful way. I know that from marine policy: in the FAO’s Committee on Fisheries, there are no civic mechanisms like those in the CFS. We sit on the sidelines and then, once everyone else has spoken, we get to say our piece. There was a similar structure at the UN Ocean Conference in 2017, with Sustainable Development Goal 14, and we attended because we have no other forum where we could appear alongside the small-scale fishing industry. But even the UNFSS is failing to meet these targets. Were negotiations held even at a single event? Did they work towards a common goal? I saw nothing of the sort in the extensive video portal.

 

There was a colourful tapestry of anxious speeches and presentations of ideas and solutions, but there was no process put forward to unite and organise them, or even identify conflicts of interest between them.

 

In the area of food assistance, we, along with the German federal government, have been campaigning for years for the introduction of an inclusive global structure for nutritional matters, which is based on the right to food and inspired by, but independent of, the FAO – in other words, the aforementioned Committee on World Food Security (CFS). The UNFSS has completely cast this inclusive panel aside. It took immense pressure for the CFS Secretary to be accepted into the UNFSS preparatory panel, but only belatedly and along with many others. The CFS doesn’t have its own exclusive place in the UNFSS, which it deserves as the main body of world food architecture with its human rights approach. It is merely one of many approaches. In downgrading the CFS to an arbitrary platform to achieve the “Zero Hunger” Sustainable Development Goal, the UNFSS has shown itself to be unviable.  

 


Why?

The process of implementing Sustainable Development Goals is already underway. There are good resolutions, and we are seeing willingness within an increasing number of nations to put the recommendations of the CFS into action. But now a Food Systems Summit wants to get in the way of this and reinvent the wheel in a process which is already underway, with solutions that we have long since moved beyond.

 


But there were many solutions discussed at the pre-summit. The issue of tackling global hunger might not be that simple. So why not debate every proposed solution and bring them together in these coalitions?

Again, there are no resolutions. These have been avoided since the beginning. In contrast, at the CFS, we grapple with guideline recommendations for nights on end. They are voluntary, but subject to monitoring. This creates pressure which can be leveraged to good effect. On the other hand, this summit completely forgoes this process, and as I’ve said more than once: our core principle of a human-rights-based approach is of utmost importance to us, and therefore non-negotiable. Coalitions will reach agreements about who does what, which they hope will be productive. These are completely arbitrary, and miles away from what was achieved in the last ten years at the committee in Rome. Decisions have to be made there, whereas the UNFSS forums conceal conflicts of interest. This means that the coalitions are very likely to contradict each other.

 


The food industry is a major player, so it should be involved in decision-making as well. A message of the pre-summit was that the food corporations are part of the problem, but they need to become part of the solution. Does that not mean that you should be working with them to find solutions?

Yes, absolutely As Jeffrey Sachs pointed out, it would already be a huge victory if the major agricultural corporations followed the existing laws and paid their taxes.  If they follow these rules, then it will be possible to sit down and talk to them.  We have been doing exactly this for ten years at the CFS, even with corporations that we know do not always follow the rules, or work with rule-breakers like Monsanto. We have been talking to Bayer for years in Germany. The CFS does also have a commercial mechanism. Initially, they didn’t really take it seriously, but that’s changed. Now we are able to have it out and negotiate our way through the unavoidable conflicts.

 

It’s a matter of balancing the industry’s valid interest in maximising its profits with the rights of those affected by these problems. This should be up to the nation states, smallholders and farmers,

 

but all suggestions are treated equally at the summit. This results in the conflicts of interest being covered up, and the aggregate of these voluntary commitments is treated as the solution.

 


Maybe it’s as Aristotle said: the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Yes, if you’re talking about products, such as spokes in a wheel: alone, they’re useless, but when combined with other parts, they help form a bicycle. But in this scenario, it’s like you have spokes that don’t fit the wheel. Conflicts of interest need to be resolved – and the industry isn’t capable of that.

 


So your fear is that the set-up of this summit will produce a bicycle that can’t be ridden?

Exactly, sometimes it just doesn’t work. For example, you can’t support smallholder production, which has been called for a lot at the summit, while also planning massive acreages for the agricultural industry that require land to be taken from these smallholders.

 


Maybe we need to do both? European agriculture wouldn’t be what it is today if it hadn’t rethought its historical devotion to small-scale farming.

You’ve got the cart before the horse here. We’ve lost millions of family operations. This doesn’t mean that we’re starving here in Europe, but we have lost these sources of income as well as the nutritional diversity that we now put great effort into designing with chemical additives, or by releasing gluten- and lactose-free versions of products. And now we want to stop that, because it’s not economically viable in other regions of the world. Even in Germany, there is more consensus as a result of the Commission on the Future of Agriculture held by the BMEL, where it was agreed that we need more family operations in agriculture. So if an agricultural nation like Germany is rethinking its course, why can’t this happen globally? This is taking place despite all of our criticism at the CFS in Rome.

 


So what is the purpose of the food system summit in your opinion? To disempower the CFS?

That’s exactly it! Ideally, they want the CFS to become more submissive to the goals of the agricultural industry and export nations. Furthermore, the UNFSS Academic Advisory Council, led by Joachim von Braun, is effectively trying to abolish, or at least financially drain, the scientific panel of the CFS (the HLPE) by calling for billions of dollars of investment in a UNFSS “scientific panel” for industry-affiliated research. It’s just as important for academia, industry and certain nation states to reduce the voice and influence of civil-society groups and smallholders by cherry-picking research questions, methods and results.

 

Industry-affiliated science is greatly inconvenienced by the fact that the HLPE’s scientific recommendations, such as focussing on agroecology, do not reach those they are meant to reach, and thus do little to secure profits for agricultural corporations.

 

Meanwhile, the HLPE has released 15 well-substantiated reports with recommendations for nation states’ agricultural programmes, which cover numerous areas, from fishing and animal husbandry to dietary recommendations. These favour local markets, small-scale producers and rich, location-based food diversity with the aim of creating sustainable, disaster-proof food systems that reduce poverty and contribute to ending world hunger. There is a global trend towards agroecology, largely as a result of the 2008 International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD), which 800 scientists signed off on with the backing of the World Bank and the UN. That was a new experience for everyone, us included; we were at an earlier stage of our organic-farming journey back then. We recognised that this is too small-scale and thus cannot realistically replace industrial agriculture as a global food system. We recognised the need for an open system to make location-specific decisions for sustainable production. This is a holistic principle that spans beyond agriculture and includes education and social issues.

 


The word “holism” was bandied around a lot at the summit. Do you think that also involves the use of synthetic fertilisers and pesticides in Africa?

Agroecology means ceasing, or not commencing, use of synthetic fertilisers and pesticides. Use of these products is incompatible with sustainability and a holistic approach to biodiversity, and directly contradicts the One Health approach promoted by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). As regards the use of synthetic fertilisers and pesticides, we have published two comprehensive studies on the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) over the last two years, both of which clearly demonstrated that this approach to fighting hunger has been unsuccessful. The fact that AGRA officials hold prominent positions in the UNFSS is one of the fundamental problems of the UNFSS.

 


Now it seems that the Rome-based agencies will be solely responsible for the further processes emerging from the Food Systems Summit. Is the CFS involved in that?

That was our hope, but the closer we get to the summit, the more effort is being made to establish a follow-up process designed to compete with the CFS. The BMZ is clearly acting in accordance with the wishes of the UN Special Envoy and the Chair of the Academic Advisory Council, and is expressing support for the continued work of this UNFSS Secretariat. I cannot understand why the BMZ is allowing the CFS and its humanitarian approach to be hamstrung by competition from the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture, which represents Germany at the CFS, just so that it can have a seat at the table in New York.  That’s an absolute affront compared to the comparatively inclusive approach we’ve seen for the past eight years in the BMZ’s One World – No Hunger initiative. Since it’s already clear after the pre-summit that this mishmash of ideas won’t lead to a new approach, this BMZ-backed resumption of proceedings is a disappointment that only serves to counteract the positive experiences from the last few years at the One World – No Hunger initiative. The UNFSS Academic Advisory Board continues to ignore the existence of any blind spots in issues of food production and the environment, when the reality is that we have very little idea of what the future holds and need to make projections.

 

Hunger isn’t an agricultural issue, and it’s not an issue of insufficient production, because we already produce far more than we need.

 

We could feed 10 to 11 billion people 4,000 calories per day with the food that we currently produce.

 


But these calories aren’t going where they need to. And people aren’t getting calories from the right sources.

Exactly, it’s an issue of poverty and distribution.

 

And it’s an agricultural issue, too.

No, if you live in a city – let’s say Lagos for example – where many people are starving despite the supermarket shelves being full, then there is enough food, but it’s unaffordable for too many people. When a smallholder doesn’t have any means of transport and half of their crop perishes, this isn’t a production issue, it’s a transport issue. Add to that largescale industrial production of livestock feed, agrofuels and bioplastics, which yield greater profit than food for people. This means an ever-increasing proportion of global harvests is not being used to feed hungry people, but instead ending up in animals’ stomachs, fuel tanks or production lines for packaging of convenience foods. We don’t need any new scientific discoveries in order to identify and tackle these problems, we just need to finally act on existing findings and stop engaging in obviously harmful behaviours. But the summit avoids regulations by making everything voluntary.

 


What will happen in the future? Will you not attend the summit in New York?

Probably not. It remains unclear what the results of the pre-summit have been, and how the recommendations from the action tracks will be considered in New York. We are not explicitly calling for a boycott, but the less that comes out of it, the less of a harmful influence it will have.

 

For us, it’s important that the CFS is not just there to make up the numbers.

 

It should be granted more influence in its role. We remain hopeful that the BMZ will eventually make the right decision and end its involvement with this masquerade known as the UNFSS. And of course we’re approaching the German federal elections, which will see both ministries undergo a change of leadership. We will make the case for the new federal government to scrutinise and bring to an end the current course of action both in parliament and coalition talks. We are confident, because every party has advocated for an agroecological orientation to development cooperation in the run-up to this election. The BMZ can no longer take a back seat on this issue.

 


Isn’t it also possible for the summit to strengthen the CFS?

First of all, any resolutions that result from the summit should not be binding for the CFS, which will hold its own conference three weeks later with many of the same people in attendance. Of course, we’d welcome and sign off on a lot of proposals tabled at the summit, for example on issues surrounding the significance of small-scale fishing for global nutrition. If these issues are incorporated into the remit of the Committee, it can be strengthened. However, there are many issues that the CFS doesn’t deal with appropriately due to its institutional weaknesses and underfunding, especially when it comes to the Academic Advisory Council. I’m hopeful the CFS will receive a boost, because until now its development has been hindered by national governments. Maybe they will recognise that the structure being strived for already exists, including in Germany.

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New campaign for women: "Poverty is sexist"

Interview with Stephan Exo-Kreischer

This is a benchmark for everybody: More rights for women are a very influencing solution in the struggle against extreme poverty and hunger worldwide, says Stephan Exo-Kreischer, Director of ONE Germany. The organisation specialises in political campaigning as a lever for sustainable change.

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Podcast: Fighting world hunger together

Chancellor Angela Merkel in the Podcast of the Federal Government

At the start of World Food Week around World Food Day on 16 October, Chancellor Angela Merkel stressed that the fight against global hunger will only be successful with international responsibility and solidarity (german only).

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Africa's rapid economic transformation

A report by T. S. Jayne, A. Adelaja and R. Mkandawire

Thirty years ago, Africa was synonymous with war, famine and poverty. That narrative is clearly outdated. African living standards are rising remarkably fast. Our authors are convinced that improving education and entrepreneurship will ensure irreversible progress in the region even as it confronts COVID-19.

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© AHA

The farmes themselves are the benchmark

A contribution by Andreas Quiring

Strong farmes are the key to a self-determined, sustainable development. Social innovations can help make the farmers’ actual needs the benchmark.

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Kakaoernte

Doing More With Less

A contribution by Jochen Moninger

Innovation is the only way to end hunger worldwide by the deadline we have set ourselves. The secret lies in networking and sharing ideas – and several initiatives are already leading by example.

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Quinoa could have a huge potential in Central Asia, where the Aral Sea Basin has been especially hard-hit by salinisation.

Supermarket Scorecard on Human Rights

A contribution by Dr. Franziska Humbert (Oxfam)

Oxfam’s supermarket scorecard, which is in its third year, shows one thing in particular - it works! Supermarkets can change their business policies and focus more on the rights of those people around the world who plant and harvest food. However, this does not happen without pressure. 

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Video diaries in the days of Corona: Voices from the ground

A contribution by Sarah D´haen & Alexander Müller, Louisa Nelle, Bruno St. Jaques, Sarah Kirangu-Wissler and Matteo Lattanzi (TMG)

Young farmers’ insights on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on food systems in Sub-Saharan Africa @CovidFoodFuture and video diaries from Nairobi’s informal settlements.

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(c) Thomas Lohnes / Brot für die Welt

The hype about urban gardening: farmers or hobby gardeners?

A contribution by Stig Tanzmann

Urban gardening is becoming increasingly popular in northern metropoles. People who consider themselves part of a green movement are establishing productive gardens in the city, for example on rooftops or in vacant lots. In severely impoverished regions of the global South, urban agriculture is a component of the food strategy.

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A new U.S. Africa policy?

An article by Jan Rübel

After four years of Donald Trump in the White House, it is time to take stock: What policies did the Republican government pursue in African regions? And what will change in favor of Joe Biden after the election decision? Here is an evaluation.

 

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Good health is impossible without healthy food

A contribution by Heino von Meyer

Corona makes it even more difficult to achieve a world without hunger by 2030. So that this perspective does not get out of sight, Germany must play a stronger role internationally - a summary of the Strategic Advisory Group of SEWOH.

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No rainforest for our consumption

A contribution by Jenny Walther-Thoß (WWF)

In the tropics rainforests are still being felled for the production of palm oil, meat and furniture. It is high time to act. Proposals are on the table.

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How do you campaign “Food Systems”?

Interview with Paul Newnham, Director of the SDG 2 Advocacy Hub.

The UN Food Systems pre-Summit in Rome dealt with transforming the ways of our nutrition. How do you bring that to a broad public? Questions to Paul Newnham, the Director of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2 Advocacy Hub.

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How can the private sector prevent food loss and waste?

An interview with David Brand (GIZ)

From a circular food system in Rwanda to functioning cooled transports in Kenya: The lab of tomorrow addresses development challenges such as preventing food loss and waste

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From lost products to safe food - Innovations from Zambia

A contribution by GIZ

In Zambia, innovative approaches are used to address the problem of post-harvest losses in the groundnut value chain. GIZ's Rapid Loss Appraisal Tool (RLAT) can help to develop more such approaches.

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A Climate of Hunger: How the Climate Crisis Fuels the Hunger

A photo reportage by the Zeitenspiegel agency

Every one degree Celsius rise in temperature increases the risk of conflict by two to ten percent. The climate crisis is a humanitarian crisis, as the photos by Christoph Püschner and Frank Schultze illustrate.

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‘None of the Three Traffic Light Coalition Parties is Close to the Paris Agreement’

An Interview with Leonie Bremer (FFF)

At the climate conference in Glasgow, activists from various groups protested again – Leonie Bremer from ‘Fridays for Future’ was there too. How can climate protection and development cooperation work hand in hand?

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“Corona exposes the weaknesses of our nutritional systems"

Interview with Arif Husain (WFP)

The United Nations plan a Food Systems Summit - and now the Corona-Virus is dictating the agenda. The Chief Economist of the UN World Food Programme takes stock of the current situation: a conversation with Jan Rübel about pandemics, about the chromosomes of development - and about the conflicts that inhibit them.

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"Pandemic increases violence against women"

Interview with Léa Rouanet

African countries still face huge gender gaps in terms of access to work and capital. What are the consequences of Corona for women in Africa? Jan Rübel interviewed Léa Rouanet on lockdowns and gender-based violence. The economist works at the Africa Gender Innovation Lab of the World Bank.

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(c) Welthungerhilfe

5 questions to F. Patterson: Why is there more hunger?

Interview with Fraser Patterson

Every year in October, the "Welthungerhilfe" aid organisation, with the Irish "Concern Worldwide" NGO, publishes the Global Hunger Index, a tool with which the hunger situation is recorded. What are the trends - and what needs to be done?

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(c) Welthungerhilfe

5 questions to S. Fan: Where are the new roads?

Interview with Shenggen Fan

Shortly before ending his position as Director General of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPR) Dr. Shenggen Fan talks about the reforms and new modes of operation needed to achieve global food security in the coming decade.

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Climate Adaptation Summit 2021: ‘We can do better’

Event report by Jan Rübel (Zeitenspiegel)

The first Climate Adaptation Summit put climate adaptation at the center of politics for the first time. The virtual meeting united global players with one goal: building resilience is just as important as climate protection itself. Around 15,000 participants discussed direct proposals.

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Resilience in times of crisis

Yemen is currently experiencing one of the worst disasters, due to war, hunger and disease outbreaks. The GIZ is locally engaged to improve the nutrition and resilience of Yemenites.

A project of GIZ

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Turning many into one: CGIAR network restructures

A contribution by Jan Rübel

International agricultural research is responding to new challenges: Their advisory group is undergoing a fundamental reform process and unites knowledge, partnerships and physical assets into OneCGIAR.

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KLAUS WOHLMANN / GIZ

"Farmers are smart"

Interview with Maria Andrade

From the lab to the masses: Maria Andrade bred varieties of biofortified sweet potatoes which are now widely used all over the continent. She sets her hope on the transformation of African agriculture.

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Small-scale farmers’ responses to COVID-19 related restrictions

A study by SLE

The lockdown due to COVID-19 hit the economy hard - including agriculture in particular with its supply chains and sales markets. What creative coping strategies have those affected found? The Seminar for Rural Development has begun a research study on th

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Small fish with a big potential

A contribution by Paul van Zwieten

African inland fisheries are increasingly reliant on the capture of small fish species that are sundried and traded over long distances. They make an important contribution in alleviating “hidden hunger”: consumed whole, small fish are an important source of micronutrients. Only that, unfortunately, politicians haven’t yet realised this.

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Building our food systems back better

A contribution by Jes Weigelt and Alexander Müller

What is required to make food systems provide sufficient, healthy food while not harming the planet? How should food security be maintained given the threat posed by climate change? Our authors look at some aspects of tomorrow’s food systems against the backdrop of the corona crisis.

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"We must mobilise all available resources"

A contribution by Ismahane Elouafi (ICBA)

Freshwater deficits are affecting more and more people throughout the world. In order to counter this, our global food system will have to change, our author maintains. A case for more research on alternative crops and smart water solutions.

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Do we have to dare a new food system?

A contribution by Dr. Felix zu Löwenstein (BÖLW)

Lack of seasonal workers and virus explosion in slaughterhouses, rising vegetable prices, climate crisis – all this demonstrates: Our food system is highly productive and (at least for the rich inhabitants of planet earth) guarantees an unprecedented rich and steady food supply - but it is not resilient.

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© GIZ

Resilient small-scale agriculture: A key in global crises

A contribution by Kerstin Weber and Brit Reichelt-Zolho (WWF)

Biodiversity and sustainable agriculture ensure the nutrition of whole societies. But there is more: These two factors also provide better protection against the outbreak of dangerous pandemics. Hence, the question of preserving ecosystems is becoming a global survival issue.

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(c) Klara Palatova/WFP

A global signpost: What way is the market, please?

A contribution by the World Food Programme

There is a clear global task: We need to feed nine billion people by 2050. We, the people of Earth, must produce more food and waste less. That is the top priority of the UN World Food Programme (WFP), too - the description of a challenge.

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The Forest Maker and his director

Double interview with Tony Rinaudo and Volker Schlöndorff

Tony Rinaudo uses conventional reforestation methods to plant millions and millions of trees – and Volker Schlöndorff is filming a cinema documentary about the Australian. The outcome so far: An educational film on behalf of the BMZ (Federal Ministry for Economic Co-operation and Development).

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The state of food security in Cape Town and St. Helena Bay

A study by Markus Hanisch, Agustina Malvido, Johanna Hansmann, Alexander Mewes, Moritz Reigl, Nicole Paganini (SLE)

Post-Covid-19 lockdown: How food governance processes could include marginalised communities - an extract of the results of an SLE study applying digital and participatory methods.

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(c) Nina Schroeder/World Food Programme

Green from the growth container

A contribution by Maria Smentek (WFP)

If there is a lack of fertile soil and rain, hunger breaks out quickly. Maria Smentek from the World Food Programme (WFP) explains how farmers and pastoralists can counter climate change with hydroponic-systems.

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(c) Gudrun Barenbrock/GIZ

Edible bugs - the new beef?

A contribution by Marwa Shumo

Insect farming is economical and environmentally sustainable, they are high in protein and they live on agricultural waste. Marwa Abdel Hamid Shumo thinks: They are the best weapon to combat hunger

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How the self-help approach empowers smallholder women

A report by INEF and Kindernothilfe

Supporting groups of smallholding women substantially contributes to strengthen rural operations economically. The organisation and associated group activities can help to reduce extreme poverty and improve the food situation.

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Gender equality: Essential for food and nutrition security

A contribution by Carsta Neuenroth (BfdW)

The majority of producers in developing countries are women. Although they contribute significantly to the food security of their families, they remain chronically disadvantaged in male-dominated agriculture in terms of access to land, credit, technology and education.

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Success story allotment garden: Food supply and women's empowerment

A contribution by Nadine Babatounde and Anne Floquet (MISEREOR)

To prevent malnutrition among young children and strengthen the role of women in their communities, Misereor, together with the local non-governmental organisation CEBEDES, is implementing a programme on integrated home gardens in Benin - a series of pictures.

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Hunger must not be a consequence of the epidemic!

A contribution by Michael Brüntrup (DIE)

Even though COVID-19 poses a threat to the health of humanity, the reaction to the pandemic must not cause more suffering than the disease itself. This is particularly relevant for poor developing countries, where the impact of the corona crisis on food security is even more severe!

 

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Developing countries hit doubly hard by coronavirus

A contribution by Gunter Beger (BMZ)

In most African countries, the infection COVID-19 is likely to trigger a combined health and food crisis. This means: In order to cope with this unprecedented crisis, consistently aligning our policies to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is more important than ever, our author maintains.

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Hier steht eine Bildbeschreibung

Statement from GAFSP Co-Chairs: GAFSP and COVID-19 Pandemic

A contribution by GAFSP

COVID-19 has unprecedented effects on the world. As always, the most vulnerable are the hardest hit, both at home and - especially - abroad. A joint appeal by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Development and Cooperation (BMZ) and the Department for International Development (DFID).

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An investment in Africa's future

A contritbution by Essa Chanie Mussa (University of Gondar)

Rural youth need viable livelihood opportunities to escape out of poverty and realize their aspirations. How could they be helped to fully unleash their potential? This is an aloud call that needs novel strategies among governments, policy makers, and international development partners and donors.

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(c) Privat

Borderless food security

A contribution by Christine Wieck

Enabling smallholders to trade across regions and borders promotes food security and economic growth. Although everyone is calling for exactly that, implementation is still difficult

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© GIZ

Actual Analysis: The locusts came with the crises

A report by Bettina Rudloff and Annette Weber (SWP)

The Corona-Virus exacerbates existing crises through conflict, climate, hunger and locusts in East Africa and the Horn of Africa. What needs to be done in these regions? To face these challenges for many countries, all of these crises need to be captured in their regional context.

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"Extreme is the new normal"

A report by Alexander Müller and Jes Weigelt (TMG)

As the climate changes, the population of Africa is growing and fertile land and jobs are becoming scarcer. New ways are currently leading to urbanisation of agriculture and a new mid-sized sector in the countryside

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© GIZ / Angelika Jacob

This is how developing countries can adapt better to droughts

A contribution by Michael Brüntrup (DIE) und Daniel Tsegai (UNCCD)

Droughts are the natural disasters with far-reaching negative consequences. While rich countries are still vulnerable to drought, famines are no longer found.

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(c) Christof Krackhardt/Brot für die Welt

Together and resourceful against worldwide hunger

A contribution by Brot für die Welt

Climate change disturbs the climate in Ethiopia. The answer from small farmers in the northern region is convincing: diversify!

 

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(c) Christoph Mohr/GIZ

Microinsurance against climate change

A contribution by Claudia Voß

Climate change is destroying development progress in many places. The clever interaction of digitalisation and the insurance industry protects affected small farmers.

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(c) Nina Schroeder/World Food Programme

Hunger is caused by people, not the climate

Interview with Jacob Schewe (PIK)

A study by the World Bank predicts that millions of people in sub-Saharan Africa will have to leave their homelands because of climate change. We have spoken with one of the authors

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What do you expect from this Pre Summit, Mr. Haddad?

Interview with Lawrence Haddad (GAIN)

Nutrition experts from all over the world are coming together in Rome. They are not only distilling 2000 ideas to improve food systems - they are also preparing for the big UN summit in New York in September. An interview. 

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Mr. Campari, how do we create sustainable food systems?

Interview with Joao Campari (WWF)

Journalist Jan Rübel spoke with Joao Campari ahead of the UNFSS Pre-Summit. The Chair of Action Track 3 highlights key challenges in transforming existing food systems towards sustainable production and shares his expectations for the Summit.

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Land Rights, Gender and Soil Fertility in Benin

A contribution by Dr. Karin Gaesing and Prof. Dr. Frank Bliss (INEF)

Especially in densely populated areas, land pressure leads to overexploitation of available land and a lack of conservation measures. The West African country of Benin, with heavily depleted soils in many places, is no exception.

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The Rice Sector in West Africa: A Political Challenge

New insights on trade and value addition in the rice sector in West Africa

Low import tariffs, smuggling activities, unpredictable tax exemptions and weak enforcement of food safety standards: The potential of local rice value chains is undermined in West African countries.

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UNFSS Pre-Summit: What did it achieve?

Interview with Martina Fleckenstein (WWF), Michael Kühn (WHH) and Christel Weller-Molongua (GIZ)

After the summit means pre-summit: It was the first time that the United Nations held a summit on food systems. Martina Fleckenstein, Michael Kühn and Christel Weller-Molongua reviewed the situation in this joint interview.

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Food System Transformation Starts and Ends with Diversity

A Contribution by Emile Frison and Nick Jacobs (IPES-Food)

While having failed to solve the hunger problem, industrial agriculture appears to be causing additional ones both in environmental and health terms. Emile Frison and Nick Jacobs call for a transformation.

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Fair Trade and Climate Justice: Everything is Conntected

A Contribution of the 'Initiative for Sustainable Agricultural Supply Chains' (INA)

Fair Trade organisations and the Initiative for Sustainable Agricultural Supply Chains (INA) have launched the #ichwillfair campaign during COP26 to highlight the link between global supply chains and climate change.

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Engaging the Community to Solve the Bushmeat Crisis

A Contribution by the Forestry Research Institute Nigeria

The 'Domestication of Small Monogastric and Ruminant Animals' (DSMR) project led by a Nigerian research institute works with local communities to solve the bushmeat crisis.

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(c) GIZ

Sustainable Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture in Rural Areas

Fish is important for combating malnutrition and undernourishment. But it is not only notable for its nutritional value, but also secures the livelihoods and employment for 600 million people worldwide.

A Project of GIZ

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(c) GIZ

Land Rights for Secure Livelihoods: My Land is My Life

Three quarters of the world's population do not have secure land rights, which hinders investment and innovation. The project "Improvement of Livelihood and Food Security" supports smallholder farmers in acquiring land.

A project of GIZ

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City, Country, Sea: 6 Innovations in the Fight Against Climate Change

A listicle for climate-neutral agriculture

Vertically growing plants, magnetic cotton. Hairy leftovers fertilizing fields, tractors running on algae? These six innovations could lead agriculture’s next Green Revolution!

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No Food Security Without Climate Protection

A Contribution by Michael Kühn (WHH)

Climate change already affects the daily lives of people in the Global South. What are the challenges they face and what do these imply for negotiations at the climate conference in Glasgow?

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“Healthy ground brings good and many fruits”

Interview with Ben Sekamatte and Boaz Ogola

Africa's cotton production plays a key role in the fight against poverty. The "Cotton Made in Africa" initiative promotes sustainable cultivation - one element of which is the use of organic pesticides. Entomologist Ben Sekamatte and cotton company manager Boaz Ogola talked with Jan Rübel about soil and yields.

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(c) Privat

A classroom in the Garden of Eden

By Iris Manner

Deforestation harms people and the environment. With nurseries, farmers can earn money and do good. You just have to know how to do it

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Support for sustainable start-ups

Companies in Africa that need financing between $20,000 and $200,000 find relatively few investors, as this sector is too large for microcredit and too small for institutional investors. This creates a "gap in the middle" where companies have limited options. A project of the World Resource Institute provides a remedy with the Landaccelerator 2020.

A World Resources Institute project

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Mr. Samimi, what is environmental change doing to Africa?

Interview with Cyrus Samimi (IAS)

Environmental change is having a particularly strong impact on the African continent. Its landscapes see both negative and positive processes. What is science's view of this? A conversation with Cyrus Samimi about mobility for livelihoods, urban gardening and dealing with nature.

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© GIZ

One Health – What we are learning from the Corona crisis

A contribution by Dr. May Hokan and Dr. Arnulf Köhncke (WWF)

Due to the coronavirus crisis, the connection between human and animal health has gained new attention. Politicians and scientists are joining forces to propagate the solution: One Health. But what is behind the concept? And can it also guarantee food security for all people worldwide?

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Ms Rudloff, what are the benefits of a supply chain law?

By Jan Rübel

The Federal Government is fine-tuning a law that would require companies to ensure human rights – a supply chain law. What are the consequences for the agricultural sector? Dr Bettina Rudloff from the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) discusses linking policy fields with added value.

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Freed from trade? Towards a fairer EU Trade Agenda

A contribution by Dr. Jan Orbie (University Gent)

‘Fair’ and ‘sustainable’ are key words in Germany’s EU Council Presidency. At the same time, Germany pursues ‘modernization’ of the WTO and ‘rapid progress’ on free trade agreements. Are these goals really compatible? Can we be concerned about fairness and sustainability while continuing with ‘business as usual’?

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Can we win the race against deforestation?

Interview with Bernadette Arakwiye und Salima Mahamoudou (World Resources Institute)

Deforestation is leading to a shortage of ressources. What are the options for counteracting? A conversation with Bernadette Arakwiye and Salima Mahamoudou about renaturation and the possibilities of artificial intelligence.

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From Berlin to Yen Bai: 10,000 trees for Vietnam

A contribution by GIZ and BMZ

It began with clicks at a trade fair and ends with concrete reforestation: a campaign at the Green Week in Berlin is now enriching the forests of the Yen Bai Province in Vietnam. A chronicle of an education about climatic relevance to concrete action - and about the short distances on our planet.

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The fight against illegal fishing

A Report

The oceans are important for our food supply, but they are overfished. To halt this trend the global community is now taking action against illegal fishing. Journalist Jan Rübel spoke with Francesco Marí, a specialist for world food, agricultural trade and maritime policy at "Brot für die Welt," and others.

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(c) Privat

Human Rights, Land and Rural Development

A contribution by Michael Windfuhr (German Institute for Human Rights)

Land rights are no longer governed by the law of the strongest. That is what the international community has agreed to. Governments and private companies have a duty to respect human rights and avoid corruption.

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