UNCDF in partnership with FAO and OECD is engaged in a multi-year action oriented research project to assess the viability and impact of a territorial approach to Food Security and Nutrition (FSN). To present the results of the first phase of the project, an International conference “A Territorial Approach to Food Security and Nutrition Policy” was organized from 19th to 20th October on the sidelines of the Milan Food Expo in Italy. The objective was to discuss and exchange experiences among international organizations, policy makers from developed and developing countries and academia on the potential of a territorial approach to address food insecurity with the objective of promoting evidence-based policy dialogues for more effective FSN policies. The findings of the conference would inform the second phase of the project.
UNCDF’s remarks on the collaboration with FAO and OECD, focused on our longstanding partnership with the LDCs and the role of local governments in implementing national policies on FNS. Discussing the 4 I model (Information, Institutions, Innovation and Inclusiveness) put forth through the research as key to territorial approach to FSN, UNCDF stresses on a ‘5th I’ Investment as a key dimension of the approach. This was based on its investment mandate and experiences on FSN investments that are needed to make this approach a reality. UNCDF also linked the Localization of SDGs and the post 2015 agenda to the territorial approach to FSN by targeting SDGs Goal 2, 3 and 7.
A series of roundtable discussions took place between high-level representatives from the three case study countries, Peru, Colombia and Cambodia and among international organizations and development partners, to assess the options with regard to supporting practical applications of the territorial approach.
UNCDF, which is already implementing the territorial approach to FSN in LDCs, organized a high level panel discussion with the Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Benin, the Minister High Commissioner for FSN, Niger, Minister Commissioner, and FSN of Mali. Ms. Tara Sharafudheen, Head, Partnerships, Policy and Communications, UNCDF moderated the panel. In what was acknowledged to be the best technical discussion at the conference, the three ministers who were well versed on the subject, shared their experiences on FSN management and the challenges they faced.
The discussion focused on several important dimensions of the issue. Firstly the importance of food security and nutrition in the context of the three West African countries that suffer from food insecurity and how the countries address the issue. The next point of discussion was the relevance of the territorial approach to FSN and the multi-sectorial and multi-level governance approaches it advocates and the challenges faced in applying this approach in their countries and how their ministry would coordinate both vertically and horizontally to implement this approach. The last part of the roundtable stressed the role local governments can play in promoting FSN and the way forward to implement this approach in their countries.
Though the experiences and contexts of Benin, Niger and Mali were different all three Ministers said local governments were central to creating sustainable food security and nutrition. The countries were quite advanced in their approaches, Niger was setting up a Food Security Investment Fund, while Mali had developed local level FSN plans. All the ministers stressed that the second phase pilots should be implemented in countries that have showed a willingness to apply this approach. They expressed keen interest in applying the current 4I Model along with an investment dimension in their countries.
A round table on key findings from the case studies the project stressed the need to improve territorial information systems for FSN in developing countries and the promotion of multilevel governance and policy coordination (including planning and budgeting). The other conclusions centered around the role of local governments and the importance of devolution as opposed to de-concentration to line ministries, the need to go beyond social policy and agriculture policy to look at other sectors like tourism to create employment and transform rural economies.
A key suggestion from the minister from Mali was the need to sharing country experiences and facilitate a learning and sharing network of countries adopting these approaches. The ministers also asked support in implementing the territorial approach through evidence based approaches and investments to transform the food system in a more sustainable way. These aspects including the addition of an investment component will be incorporated into the second and expanded phase of the project.