On the cluster of food security, nutrition, land degradation, desertification and drought, a strong SDG on food security and agriculture was seen as key to poverty eradication and sustainable development. One participant highlighted, that those who face the daily scourge of hunger, the very poor, also face each day struggling for human dignity in a world where they are treated as though the world would be better off without them. Agricultural job creation was also highlighted as a means for poverty eradication. The right to food as a basic human right was emphasized by many along with governments’ particular responsibility for ensuring freedom from hunger.
Major Groups and other stakeholders also stressed that the whole food chain matters to food security as well as to sustainability; each link must be geared to meeting people’s needs for affordable, nutritious food in ways that are environmentally sound. This requires consideration of the full food life cycle, including minimization of pre- and post-harvest losses and food waste.
Among the challenges in defining the food security, nutrition and sustainable agriculture agenda are key relationships, interdependencies and possible tensions, between, e.g. consumption and production, where what and how farmers produce is conditioned by consumers’ food preferences; the more wastefully people consume, the more food needs to be produced, straining land, water and ecosystem resources. They also point to the responsibilities of agribusiness to communities and to the protection of the natural resource base on which they depend. There was a call for the establishment of a legally binding framework for corporate social and environmental responsibility.
There was much emphasis on enhanced support to small-holder agriculture and livestock herding, as well as small-scale fishers, including through farmer-centred, knowledge-based support programmes. The need for increased investment in agriculture was emphasized, including both public and private investment in agricultural R&D, and the rebuilding of state-provided agricultural services like extension that have atrophied or been dismantled. It was also emphasized that women’s central role in agricultural production as well as in household nutrition needs to be reflected in relevant targets and indicators. Especially important is to secure women’s (and also indigenous peoples’) right to land and security of tenure. The speakers supported the provision of basic services for rural areas, including social a protection floor.
Among concrete targets proposed under a food security, nutrition and sustainable agricultural SDG were: universal access to nutritious food; toxin-free, GMO-free food for all; halving the rate of conversion of forests and other ecosystems to agricultural use; phasing out harmful subsidies; increasing agriculture’s share of ODA, focusing on smallholders; reducing food waste; increasing soil carbon stocks; and improving water efficiency in agriculture.
(Excerpt from Co-Chair's meetings with the Major Groups and other Stakeholders OWG-3