Conference on Sustainable Food Security For All By 2020

Bonn, Germany, 4-6 September 2001

SUMMARY REPORT, Saturday 8 September  HTML ball.gif (204 bytes) TEXT ball.gif (204 bytes) PDF
Daily Report, Wednesday, 5 September  HTML ball.gif (204 bytes) TEXT ball.gif (204 bytes) PDF
Daily Report, Tuesday, 4 September  HTML ball.gif (204 bytes) TEXT ball.gif (204 bytes) PDF


Photos and RealAudio from:  Tuesday, 4 Sep ball.gif (204 bytes) Wednesday, 5 Sep ball.gif (204 bytes) Thursday, 6 Sep 

The International Conference on Sustainable Food Security for All by 2020 was held from 4-6 September 2001 at the International Congress Centre of the Federal Parliament, Bonn, Germany. The conference was organized by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and its 2020 Vision Initiative, in collaboration with the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) through the German Foundation for International Development (DSE-ZEL) in cooperation with the German Agency for Technical Cooperation (GTZ-BEAF). It was supported by cosponsors from civil society and the public and private sectors. Over 800 participants attended the meeting, including government ministers and other senior officials, as well as representatives of academic and research institutions, United Nations bodies, intergovernmental organizations, business and industry, non-governmental organizations, and the media.

The conference aimed to bring together key stakeholders to share their knowledge, exchange information and ideas, and move toward a consensus on identifying policies and actions needed to address the problem of food insecurity in the most effective way, particularly in the light of recent changes such as globalization, trade liberalization, technological advances and environmental concerns.

Thursday, 6 September

Agnes Quisumbing, Senior Research Fellow, IFPRI chaired this session. She stated that empowering low-income women increases food security because women are critical to agricultural production, family nutrition and management of natural resources. Presenting key research findings, she indicated that increasing women’s incomes and capital generates improvements in education, child health, households and prospects for the next generation. While legal and institutional frameworks still need to be strengthened, she said efforts to empower women are succeeding. She then introduced the panelists, who each addressed one of the following issues in relation to empowering low-income women: education, agricultural programmes, and property rights.

Elizabeth King

Elizabeth King, Lead Economist, World Bank, stressed the importance of girls’ education as a development goal and a strategic investment. She offered data showing that gender gaps are often larger among the poorest income groups; poor households bear the costs of gender inequality in education and limit girls’ future opportunities; HIV infection rates are higher where gender gaps in literacy are wider; and societies that discriminate on the basis of gender suffer increased child mortality, poor health, and less effective investments by women in their own and their children's education. Noting that gender disparities persist due to societal institutions, economic policies and control in household decision-making, she emphasized a strategy of economic pricing policies that can increase demand for girls’ schooling by reducing costs.

Ruth Meinzen-Dick

Ruth Meinzen-Dick, Senior Research Fellow, IFPRI, stressed that while women are often responsible for food, property rights are usually held by men, with women often being deprived of these rights. Noting that improved access to property rights raises women’s status and security, she added that it also increases investment in children. Noting increasing devolution of resource management to communities, she said this should involve women’s participation and be sensitive to public perceptions. She concluded that investment in women's groups can build long-term social capital.

Tunku Abdul Aziz, Vice-Chairman of Transparency International, stressed that good governance is the key to sustainable food security. He said corruption deprives private sector development and discourages investment, as it leads to decisions being taken that are contrary to the common good. He stated that countries with weak institutions are particularly prone to corruption and that such countries should be assisted in creating the appropriate political and economic environment. He advocated exposing corruption wherever possible and said corruption may be the “missing factor in the equation” for many countries in seeking to achieve food security.

Tunku Abdul Aziz

Charlotte McClain

Charlotte McClain, Commissioner, Economic and Social Rights, South African Human Rights Commission, highlighted the universal right to food safety as formulated in the South African constitution and stressed the South African Government’s obligation to ensure access to reliable supply of food through appropriate policies and planning. She emphasized the need to focus on vulnerable groups and the importance of good governance and stable democracy.

Philippe Guiton, Africa Relief Manager, World Vision, drew attention to the many conflicts since the end of the Cold War, noting that 90% of conflict victims are civilians. He said food insecurity can be both a consequence and cause of conflict. Citing examples of countries – such as Sudan – that could easily feed themselves but for ongoing conflict, he stressed that “food security for all will remain a dream as long as conflict exists.” He recommended that donors increase targeted assistance to poor countries with strict conditions to avoid misappropriation, and that they develop sensible long-term goals. He also recommended that donors, international organizations, and non-governmental organizations incorporate conflict prevention and mitigation into relief and development programmes. Non-governmental organizations should constantly measure the impact of their work on assisted populations to improve their programmes and help avoid dependency on food aid. Finally, he urged the international community to take action to “break the economy of war.”

Philippe Guiton

Grace Akello, Minister of State for Entandikwa, Republic of Uganda, who encouraged participants to participate in defining a common vision on how to erase hunger from the world.

Grace Akello

Uschi Eid

Uschi Eid, Parliamentary State Secretary to the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, said determining priorities requires designating whose responsibility it is to end hunger. As input to the panel discussion to follow, she hypothesized that food security demands good governance, change in protectionist agricultural policies and subsidized exports and a higher place on the public agenda.

Rajul Pandya-Lorch, Head of IFPRI’s 2020 Vision Initiative, outlined a draft paper produced by IFPRI that suggests the priority policy actions required to achieve the 2020 Vision of a food-secure world for all. The paper notes that much more needs to be done to achieve sustainable food security for all. She then outlined seven broad areas the paper recommends for high priority policy action: investing in human resources; improving access to productive resources and remunerative employment; improving markets, infrastructure, and institutions; expanding appropriate research, knowledge, and technology; improving natural resource management; promoting good governance; and supporting sound national and international trade and macroeconomic policies. She welcomed comments and feedback on the paper.

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Rajul Pandya-Lorch


Keith Bezanson challenged participants to set some priorities for action to make sustainable food security a reality. He said the aim at this conference should be to identify a few issues that are the top priorities, which is necessary given scarce resources. He stated that this meeting should not produce another declaration or statement, but clear guidance for action.

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Joachim von Braun

Joachim von Braun, Director of the Center for Development Research, ZEF-Bonn, chaired this session. Noting that participants had expressed clear priorities and offered many suggestions on how to organize action, he called on them to explore who could best and most appropriately take responsibility to end hunger.

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Robert Paarlberg

Robert Paarlberg, Professor of Political Science, Wellesley College, and Associate at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University, recalled the advice to “think globally, act locally,” observing that circumstances of hunger often result from a breakdown of local systems due to natural disasters or government failures. He said this means it would be misleading to think globally about hunger, since not all import and local prices are dependent on the world food market, and international institutions have often failed in their efforts to assist countries. Rather, he advocated thinking locally and acting nationally, urging governments to take responsibility for financial assistance and good governance. 

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Klemens van de Sand, Assistant President, Project Management Department of the International  Fund for Agricultural Development, said national governments have the primary responsibility for ending hunger by providing public goods. He suggested that the reason why governments may not achieve this is a lack of political will, which he said was more important than lack of resources or capacity. Declaring that political will is generated by pressure from the poor people affected by hunger, who have the need and will to seek change, he said this group must be able to organize itself to secure its aims. This requires a partnership based on a new approach to development policy that focuses on restoring poor people’s dignity and rights. He said the poor need to be empowered through local institutions serving their interests, such as farmers associations, locally-based savings and credit organizations, and self-employed women’s associations. Development partners should help “enable the enablers” in achieving food security. He urged participants to strongly request governments to incorporate food security into the poverty reduction strategy agenda.

Klemens van de Sand

Ian Johnson

Ian Johnson, Chair of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research and World Bank Vice President, said priorities would differ among countries. In supporting greater visibility of food security at the international level, he emphasized a focus on: agricultural policies directed at poor people; economic growth and agricultural yield productivity framed within the context of environmental responsibility; new institutions and arrangements, including a platform for discussion among all stakeholders on biotechnology; increased investment in national and international research; changes in subsidies, pricing policies and non-market barriers.

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Stewart Wallis

Stewart Wallis, International Director, Oxfam GB, identified women’s empowerment, trade reform and conflict as three areas especially relevant to the work of Oxfam. On women’s empowerment, he highlighted the need for this to be supported at all levels, particularly in the area of girls’ education. On trade, He indicated that harnessing trade for employment, income and food security meant making markets work by reforming trade rules and creating a development agenda within market liberalization efforts to protect the most vulnerable. In the area of conflict, he stated that governments should be held accountable for dealing and profiteering from small arms that promote violence.

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Usha Barwale Zehr, Joint Director of Research, Mahyco Seeds Co. Ltd., underscored the fundamental right to food and stressed the responsibility of national governments to end hunger. She noted differences in productivity within countries and stressed the need for new types of partnerships to ensure food security. She further advocated information on the causes of hunger to be made available at the local level so local people can address hunger themselves.

Usha Barwale Zehr

Per Pinstrup-Andersen, IFPRI Director General, presented his concluding remarks on the conference. He recalled the conference’s three objectives and assessed its success. On the first objective of knowledge exchange, he indicated that this intensive meeting had been extremely valuable. For the second aim of breaking the complacency, he noted none among participants either at the beginning or end of the meeting, while noting that the challenge was to take this determination beyond this group. He observed that results of the third aim of catalyzing action remain to be seen, and that the group had to take action after the meeting. 
Summarizing the discussions of the past three days, he noted agreement that efforts to attain food security for all by 2020 must be given a far higher priority, and said participants seem to agree that the lack of political will forms a major barrier to reform. He noted that some speakers had identified empowerment of the poor as advocates of their own interests as critical to building political momentum. Some participants had suggested that even with the best political will, lack of capacity was a significant factor.
He said the conference had made it clear that achieving the World Summit’s goal for 2015 and the 2020 Vision of food security for all by 2020 depended on three prerequisites: pro-poor economic growth; empowerment of poor; and the effective provision of public goods. Stating that the key aim is to bring people of poverty in any way possible, he noted that the fact that 75% of poor people live in rural areas means agriculture is an important factor.

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Per Pinstrup-Andersen

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Conference on Sustainable Food Security For All By 2020 (Conference website) International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)


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