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Keeping Promises on Food Security

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By Jonathan Shrier

Food security representatives from around the world are gathering here at the Department of State today to finish a two-day meeting of the signatories of the L'Aquila Food Security Initiative (AFSI). In 2009 at the G-8 Summit, global leaders, including President Obama, endorsed the L'Aquila Joint Statement on Global Food Security, agreeing to "to act with the scale and urgency needed to achieve sustainable global food security."

This marked a turning point for international efforts to achieve food security worldwide. Leaders committed to a take a comprehensive approach to ensure food security, coordinate effectively, support country-owned processes and plans, engage multilateral institutions in advancing efforts to promote food security, and deliver on sustained and accountable commitments.

This year marks the final year of AFSI donor governments' pledge to mobilize over $22 billion toward global food security over three years, of which the United States pledged $3.5 billion. Food security is a critical priority as it is closely linked to economic growth, social progress, political stability, and peace.

In the United States, this pledge is embodied in Feed the Future, the U.S. government's global hunger and food security initiative. Taking a uniquely comprehensive approach to food security by investing in entire agricultural value chains, from seeds to markets to consumers, Feed the Future is the largest investment in agricultural development the United States has made in decades. Beyond improving farm and ranch production, Feed the Future also works with underserved agricultural workers, and prioritizes improvements in their nutrition as well as their income. Women producers are supported within FTF programs through several mechanisms including innovation funds to develop technology appropriate to them, and diversification programs that improve nutrition, specifically targeting the 1,000 day window from pregnancy through a child's second birthday. Adequate nutrition during this window is critical to a healthy pregnancy, and developing a child's lifetime cognitive and physical capacity.

AFSI participants convene twice annually to review progress toward meeting commitments, including financial pledges, and to discuss best practices and lessons learned. The first AFSI meeting of 2012 brings together over 50 food security officials from 30 countries, and international and regional organizations. Participants have heard from civil society and partner countries, and will discuss coordination efforts between partner and donor governments, investments in research to improve food security, tracking progress toward meeting the L'Aquila commitments, and using Managing for Development Results to enhance the impact of investments in food security.

AFSI members are making good progress in committing funds to fulfill their financial pledges, but we have much work ahead to achieve sustainable global food security.