The right to nutrition: how we can realise it

Stefan Schmitz is the Executive Director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust. He was the Commissioner for the One World  - No Hunger Initiative (SEWOH) at the BMZ until 2019. This role enables him to see the SEWOH from a different perspective. We asked him, as someone who works in a multilateral organization, which aspects of the SEWOH he considers groundbreaking in terms of advancing global goals like the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 2 (SDG 2) at a national and global level.

The entrance to the "Svalbard Global Seed Vault". The world's largest seed vault is located on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen. The aim is to preserve the genetic diversity of crops for future generations. © Global Crop Diversity Trust

Dr. Stefan Schmitz

Stefan Schmitz joined the Crop Trust as Executive Director in January 2020. He previously worked as Deputy Director-General and Commissioner for the “One World – No Hunger” Initiative at the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). He also chaired the Steering Committee of the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP).

Feature 1: Global thematic approaches

No human right worldwide is violated as often as the right to food. Climate change, loss of biodiversity and food insecurity are among the major global challenges of the 21st century and these challenges are closely linked. The realization of the universal human right to food and the other great challenges require global efforts that no country can hide behind. Consequently, the thematic structure of the initiative is based on the requirements of the SDGs. An essential implementation tool are the so-called global projects. In essence, these are implemented bilaterally with individual partner countries, as you would expect.  However, beyond this bilateral implementation, there is a larger whole. This consists primarily of a coherent conceptual framework, the opportunity for mutual learning and the chance to use visibility and communication skills to place thematic priorities, such as food security, agricultural innovation and sustainable agriculture, higher on the international development agenda and to win over further partners for joint efforts.

 

Feature 2: Linking research and practice

Another prominent feature is the principle that all major global projects are coupled with accompanying research projects. In all central activities, it was important from the outset not to duplicate best practices, but to break new ground, to base the work on solid analysis, to try out innovative approaches in development cooperation with research support and to reflect on the measurable impacts of activities. This approach also reflects the increased importance that the BMZ attaches to agricultural and food systems research. This is particularly evident in its support for the reform of the CGIAR system.

 

Feature 3: Multi-actor orientation and dialogue

Equally important as close cooperation with science and research is long-term cooperation with the private sector and civil society. Since funding for the initiative is not tied to specific implementation modes, the entire set of development cooperation instruments can be applied, i.e. also the instruments of public-private partnerships and grants to civil society organizations. At least as important as multi-actor cooperation at the project level is the initiated long-term and cross-project dialogue between politics, private sector, science and civil society. The founding of the Strategic Advisory Group for the One World - No Hunger Initiative is perhaps the most striking effort to establish new forms of dialogue and cooperation. Integrating this experience into the process of the UN Food Systems Summit could be an important contribution of the SEWOH to shaping governance structures in the field of food systems.  

 

Feature 4: Space for multilateral cooperation- example: The Global Crop Diversity Trust Fund.

This Initiative also allows for investment and participation in multilateral mechanisms. This is based on the firm belief that without close international cooperation, the challenges of climate, biodiversity and food crises cannot be met. The provision of substantial contributions from the Initiative to the Global Crop Diversity Trust is one of the most prominent examples of this kind of commitment. The contributions to the Crop Trust go to an area that is chronically underfunded and at the same time of enormous strategic importance. They go hand in hand with the BMZ’s support for reform of the CGIAR system. The conservation of plant genetic resources in the world's most important seed banks, so far chronically underfunded , is absolutely essential for securing global food security in times of climate change and for the further development of (smallholder) agriculture in the Global South. The COVID-19 pandemic should have made it clear to all the decision-makers of this world that, firstly, precautions against unforeseen events must be taken more seriously, and secondly, that global cooperation pays off.  

 

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