GLOBAL GOVERNANCE IN FOOD SECURITY1.0 IntroductionAmong the basic human needs, food is the most important of all human needs and collective food security governance has been with us since the dawn of human society. Failure to perform it effectively has inevitably engendered social unrest. Food security is a flexible concept as evident in the many attempts of definition in research and policy usage. There were several definitions in published writings (Maxwell and Smith, 1992). Whenever the concept is introduced in the title of a study or its objectives, it is necessary to look closely to establish the explicit or implied definition (Maxwell, 1996.).Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food which meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.
Household food security is the application of this concept to the family level, with individuals within households as the focus of concern. However, Food insecurity exists when people do not have adequate physical, social or economic access to food as defined above. (FAO 1996) There have been significant threats to sustainable food security and nutrition, including demographic and climatic factors and changing business practices in agriculture with the emergence of global values chains. The global nature and public good aspects of the challenges require coordinated responses and urgent improvement of the global governance of food security. This paper examines the impact of global governance on food security and the effects of climatic change on food security to ensure greater coherence in the global approach to food security and the multilateral trade, financial and environmental regimes.With the proper Global Governance regime in place, Food security should be available for all. But this is not the case, with the onset of the 2007–08 food price crisis, food security was put back on the international agenda. Threats of food insecurity had provoked civil unrest around the world and countries that had long been considered food secure were facing the threat of limited food imports as a result of export restrictions put in place by some food-exporting countries.
The food price spikes are symptoms of larger concerns with the future of global food security. According to the FAO estimates in 2014, it indicated that global hunger reduction continues: about 805 million people are estimated to be chronically undernourished in 2012–14, down more than 100 million over the last decade, and 209 million lowers than in 1990–92. In the same period, the prevalence of undernourishment has fallen from 18.7 to 11.3 percent globally and from 23.4 to 13.5 percent for the developing countries.
Yet with all these findings, the area of the current debate on governance has had such a low profile as food security. This cannot be explained because of irrelevance or lack of genuine interest in the significance of governance to food security. It certainly cannot be explained on the grounds that a “good governance” regime in food security already exists. It clearly does not.1.2 Thesis Statement “A proper global governance regime in food security does not exist”1.2 Impact of Climate change on the World AgricultureAccording to the World Bank, (1986) “The major sources of transitory food insecurity are year-to-year variations in international food prices, foreign exchange earnings, domestic food production and household incomes.
Apart from these factors, the climatic change which affects agricultural product can as well lead to food insecurity, meanwhile, these factors are often related. Temporary sharp reductions in a population’s ability to produce or purchase food and other essentials undermine long-term development and cause loss of human capital from which it takes years to recover”(World Bank, 1986). A changing climate can have both positive and negative impacts on agriculture.
These changes can impact a number of different levels of the sector ranging from individual plants and animals, right up to entire global networks.1.3 How Climatic Change Affects Food SecurityThe warming from the change in climatic condition provides opportunities for agriculture with an expansion of the growing season to go along with milder and shorter winters. This could increase productivity and allow the use of new and potentially more profitable crops which makes food more available.
Most regions will likely be warmer with longer frost-free seasons and increased evaporation and plant transpiration from the surface into the atmosphere.These warmer temperatures would also benefit livestock production in the form of lower feed requirements, increased survival rates of the young and lower energy costs, this will improve production of dairy food and the likes. Climate change could also improve soil quality by enhancing carbon sequestration and reducing the emissions of greenhouse gases by changes to land-use from annual crop production to perennial crops and grazing lands.1.
4 Challenges posed on Food Security as a result of Climatic ChangeOne of the concerns is that climate change has significant negative impacts on the agricultural production including the increased intensity and frequency of droughts and violent storms. As the frequency of events like droughts increases under climate change, crop yields decrease drastically. This increases the vulnerability of producers to climate change. Extreme events of droughts and floods have a devastating impact on crop yields where yields were reduced by as much as a higher percentage of the average yields during normal or more suitable growing conditions.
In addition, warmer summers also cause problems for livestock producers related to heat-wave deaths. This is especially peculiar in poultry operations. Other impacts manifest in the reduction in milk production and reduced reproduction in the dairy industry, as well as, reduced weight gain in beef cattle.Also, droughts and floods reduce pasture availability and the production of forage, forcing producers to find alternative feed sources or reduce their herd size. On the crop pest, however, there are several possible effects climate change also has on crop pests and disease. These include increased weed growth due to higher levels of atmospheric Carbon Dioxide (CO2) and an increased prevalence of pests and pathogens in livestock and crops.
The increased range, frequency, and severity of insect and disease infestations are also potential impacts.With changes in rainfall patterns, farmers face dual threats from flooding and drought. Both extremes destroy crops, flooding washes away fertile topsoil that farmers depend on for productivity, while droughts dry it out, making it more easily blown or washed away. Higher temperatures increase crops’ water needs, making them even more vulnerable during dry periods (Nelson, Rosegrant, Koo and Robertson, 2009).Certain species of weeds, insects, and other pests benefit from higher temperatures and elevated CO2, increasing their potential to damage crops and creating financial hardship for farmers. Shifting climates also mean that agricultural pests can expand to new areas where farmers had not previously dealt with them (U.
S. Global Change Research Program, 2009).With higher temperatures, most of the world’s glaciers have begun to recede—affecting farmers who depend on glacial meltwater for irrigation (IPCC,2013; IPCC, 2014). Rising sea levels, meanwhile, heighten flood dangers for coastal farms, and increase saltwater intrusion into coastal freshwater aquifers—making those water sources too salty for irrigation (Backlund, Janetos and Schimel, 2008).Climate change also impact ecosystems and the services they provide to agriculture, such as pollination and pest control by natural predators. Many wild plant species used in domestic plant breeding, meanwhile, are threatened by extinction (Jarvis, Upadhyaya, Gowda, Aggarwal, Fujisaka and Anderson, 2010). This Climate change may give rise to Green House effect whereby there will be the emission of gases into the atmosphere known as Green House Gas (GHG) Emission. This effect has multiple effects on human being and agricultural product thereby posing threats to Food security.
This is not peculiar to Canadian citizenry alone but also every country at which these effects are felt. 2.0 Food as a fundamental human right The governance system should ensure that governments adhere to certain obligations to harness some benefits in order to provide food to everyone, however, a proper global governance regime in food security does not exist. The World Food Conference was to seek ways to “resolve the world food problem within the broader context of development and international economic co-operation” (McKeon, 2011; United Nations, 1975). The Conference led to the creation of the short-lived World Food Council and the Committee on World Food Security (CFS).
The international response to the 2007–08 food price crisis reflected an implicit acknowledgment that the institutional framework established after the Second World War and after the 1970s energy crisis was no longer adequate to deal with the dynamics of a changed economic and institutional environment. It recognized that with globally integrated food production systems, market and production failures in the food and agriculture sector can threaten the global economy as well as destabilize entire nations. It also prompted consideration that food, energy, and financial markets could dynamically, but perversely interact to provoke instability in each of these markets. The crisis pushed food security briefly to the top of the international agenda. The need to revive rural development and invest in new technologies that are also accessible and affordable to smallholder farmers was widely recognized.
3.0 Global Governance for World Food SecurityHistory and common sense tell us that a functioning food system is an indispensable pillar of a stable economy and a society capable of reproducing itself. McKeon, (2011) stated that, food governance is an increasingly difficult task in a globalised world. On the one hand, it involves multiple layers of decision-making.
The capacity of single households to ensure an adequate supply of food for its members is affected by developments from local to global. Increasingly, even nation states are losing control over the factors that determine the food security of their populations, (McKeon, 2011). The range of imponderables has widened from acts of God, like the droughts or locusts that appear in the earliest narratives of the human race, or coups by political or military powers, to the impalpable workings of globalised economic forces.
At the same time, food security governance has become increasingly complex. For most of the 20th century, it was mainly focused on issues of agricultural production invariably affected by climate change. Today access, climatic change and ecological concerns are understood to be equally relevant in most cases. Governance needs to consider not only how food is produced but also how it is processed, distributed, consumed, and stored in order to ensure adequate food security. McKeon, (2011) food governance has become a complex web of often overlapping or contradictory formal policies and regulations, complicated by unwritten rules and practices that are not subject to political oversight.The governance of food security is a much-contested terrain, as it is no coincidence that agriculture has been the stumbling block of the discussions.
Decisions that affect the food security of the population of a country will involve and alert many social forces: the state, businesses, and civil society including agricultural productions. The outcome of negotiations is affected by the power relations among these groups and by the degree to which states manage to mediate in the common interest. Getting a better handle on the global governance of food, then, is by no means an easy task. However, without a doubt, now is the time to make the effort. Over the past years, a series of interrelated crises has unmasked the systemic flaws in the current world food system and highlighted its tendency to reward a small club of privileged economic actors and their political allies.
These very crises have opened up the political opportunity to reform the world governance of food security fundamentally. In the paper of McKeon, (2011), the six pillars of food sovereignty are as stated below.3.1 Six Pillars of Food SovereigntyFocuses on Food for People, putting the right to food at the centre of food, agriculture, livestock and fisheries policies; and rejects the proposition that food is just another commodity or component for international agribusiness.
Values Food Providers and respects their rights; and rejects those policies, actions and programmes that undervalue them, threaten their livelihoods and eliminate them.Localised Food Systems, bringing food providers and consumers closer together; and rejects governance structures, agreements and practices that depend on and promote unsustainable and inequitable international trade and give power to remote and unaccountable corporations.Puts Control Locally over territory, land, grazing, water, seeds, livestock and fish populations; and rejects the privatisation of natural resources through laws, commercial contracts and intellectual property rights regimes.
Builds Knowledge and Skills that conserve, develop and manage localised food production and harvesting systems; and rejects technologies that undermine, threaten or contaminate these, e.g. genetic engineering.
Works with Nature in diverse, agro ecological production and harvesting methods that maximise ecosystem functions and improve resilience and adaptation, especially in the face of climate change; and rejects energy intensive industrialised methods which damage the environment and contribute to global warming.3.2. Global public goods and bad in food security and nutritionReally, the global governance of food security should be more firmly rooted in notions of “provisioning” of related global public goods and prevent associated “global public bad”. Vos, (2015), defined global public goods, as a broad range of “goods and services” (or economic conditions) that benefit everyone, including a stable and comfortable climate, clean air, a stable international financial system, good public health (free from pandemics), and, possibly also, global food security. Economic theory defines public goods as those that are non-excludable (no one can be excluded from the consumption of these goods) and non-rival (the consumption by one in no way decreases that by others) (Vos, 2015).
They are public goods because their production (or preservation) results from collective choices (markets by themselves cannot guarantee them) and because their externalities are far-reaching. Applied to the international arena, Vos, (2015) claimed that the understanding of what are global public goods (and what not) continues to be subject to some controversy, if only because of its implication for global governance: by their nature, global public goods must be managed globally and national governance would be inadequate to guarantee globally benign outcomes. Vos, (2015) claimed that prior to 2008 though, food security and the eradication of hunger were hardly referred to as global public goods in major international policy debates. Page (2013) and other scholars, argued that the case can be made to use broadly recognized “global public good” as a basis to guide global governance of food security. According to the assessment in the work of Page (2013), those global public aspects would suggest at least five core functions for a strengthened global governance of sustainable food security and nutrition:Guaranteeing affordable access to nutritious food and prevention of famines and food crisesEnsuring stability and transparency of food commodity markets at various levelSecuring food safety based on two core principles: protecting human health and promoting fair trade policies.Compliance with international labour standards and promotion of decent work in agriculture and the entire food chain.Promoting the environmental sustainability of food systems and protecting biodiversity4.
0 Implications for governmental and non-governmental stakeholdersIn pursuance of the goal of sustainable food security, an acknowledgment that private corporations are key players in the global food security system is required, and that they have the capacity to resist or avoid national legislations, particularly in developing countries. Given that it is unlikely that the current approach to private management of food supply chains and markets will change, the only solution is to involve these private and non-state actors in the global governance of food security in its broad sense. This emerging role has been acknowledged by the inclusion of the private sector and an appeal to “corporate social responsibility.” An example of private sector engagement at the philanthropic level is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Other models include joint government-private sector ventures, non government organisation (NGO), private sector ventures, or support to research and development that focus on the needs also of the poor and vulnerable, that is those that are already and would be marginalized in the required adjustment processes to climate change. However, to have a broad and sustainable impact on food security, those forces that drive private business need to be directed through appropriate incentive structures consistent with the goals of ensuring sustainable food security, (Vos, 2015).
The challenge will be creating a public opinion environment where managers of food chain corporations see advantages and benefits in contributing to sustainable and socially responsible food production and development. This would require much greater efforts at influencing public opinion and awareness, which nowadays is pretty much restricted to the impacts of extreme situations of food insecurity or food safety scandals. Awareness about the impact of certain policies and corporate behaviors or of the impact of climate change on overall food supplies and food security (and vice versa the impact of agricultural production systems on climate change and the environment in general) is still at a very nascent stage.
4.1 Essential Characteristics and Architecture for a Better Global Governance System for Food Security.Prerequisites for a better global governance system for food securityWhat aspects would a more legitimate global food governance system have to respect in order to overcome the obstacles that have blocked past efforts to fight hunger? To start off, it would need to be based on a set of basic values and principles. Values and principles answer the question: “Where do we want to head, what do we want to defend and respect – and why?” In this sense, they are a part, explicitly or implicitly, of all governance systems.
For a start, valuesalready enshrined in the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and in a range of international conventions will suffice: the right to food, equity within and among countries, defence of common goods for this generation and future ones, etc. These principles need to be progressively developed into operational terms and extended so that they apply to all actors involved in food security.4.2 Remedies for food insecurityA clear vision of the drivers of food insecurity: In order to make get the concept of how food insecurity can be tacked, a clearly articulated vision of how global food security may be achieved is essential. The initial need is to study and understand the economics behind food insecurity and identify its causes.
Such vision can be gotten by looking inward for remedies and working from the ground up.The need for a multidisciplinary approach: It is important to address food insecurity through a multidisciplinary approach, which includes attention to environment protection, the socio-economic and political environment, the performance of the food economy, care and nutrition practices, hygiene practices, and water and sanitation, (Global forum on Food security and Nutrition, 2011).The refocusing of the scope: Responsibilities spread out amongst a number of international organisms generate overlaps, conflicts and policy incoherence. A refocusing of the roles of the big players in the fight against hunger is essential, (Global forum on Food security and Nutrition, 2011).
Communication: Communication is a vital tool, needed to empower the vulnerable. It is also essential to ensure a fair representation of all countries within the systems dealing with food insecurity. Outcomes of conferences devoted to food security should be made available to everyone and circulated widely. (Global forum on Food security and Nutrition, 2011).5.
0 ConclusionThe policies proposed by today’s world governance system are sorely in need of a complete overhaul. The sectoral approach to food policy – as epitomised by the fragmented institutional governance – compounds the difficulties that policy makers face in trying to keep up with changes. Food security policy is still overly focussed on agriculture and food production, whereas power has shifted further down the food chain to the distribution sector and the multinational chains that dominate it. Policy makers are also often blinded by their reluctance to question their understanding of the issues and to learn from local experience that shows that other approaches can work. A better global governance system necessarily requires respect for an inclusive, legitimate, and democratic political process.
A more legitimate global food governance system needs to be anchored in an international forum in which all governments and other stakeholders can participate on an equal footing and which is open to all actors concerned. In particular, it has to afford meaningful participation by those most directly affected by food insecurity, who are also those in the front line of finding solutions. To do so it will have to advance light-years beyond the kind of window-dressing that has come to characterize a stodgy and complacent intergovernmental system. Drawing on a body of documented principles and practices, it needs to create a multilateral space in which social actors can influence decision-making processes that affect their lives.