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Financing for Development Keeps Agriculture and Infrastructure front and centre.

The world has been meeting in Addis Ababa to discuss Financing for Development and I have been on-site all week.  The negotiations concluded on Thursday 16 July and form the basis to help support the Sustainable Development Goals (Post 2015 agenda) which will be finalised in September.   As a past co-chairperson of Farming First it was particularly pleasing to see all the elements of the Farming First agenda included, such as:  access to land resources for women, furthering extension services, investing in infrastructure, fostering productivity, reducing food losses, fairer markets, and more research.  We could not be more proud of the gains made for agriculture generally and smallholders particularly.

By the time negotiators arrived in Addis, most of the text had been discussed but three ‘sticking’ points remained: taxation, debt, and ‘common but differentiated” responsibilities. Negotiations were conducted largely behind closed doors by small groups of negotiators. Three formal sessions of the main committee were convened but these served to discuss procedural matters rather than negotiate. By Wednesday evening, a final text was agreed, well in time for the closing of the conference.

Some highlights:

  • Food security and agriculture are mentioned a few times in the text, in particular in relation to the poverty reduction potential of growth in ag sector and the need for further investments (para 13 and 121), but also in relations to concerns about volatility in commodity prices and the impact on food security (para 108). There is also a specific mention of the need to “correct and prevent trade restrictions and distortions in agricultural markets, including through the elimination of ag export subsidies” (para 83)

    13. Scaling up efforts to end hunger and malnutrition. It is unacceptable that close to 800 million people are chronically undernourished and do not have access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food. With the majority of the poor living in rural areas, we emphasize the need to revitalize the agricultural sector, promote rural development, and ensure food security, notably in developing countries, in a sustainable manner, which will lead to rich payoffs across the sustainable development goals. We will support sustainable agriculture, including forestry, fisheries and pastoralism. We will also take action to fight malnutrition and hunger among the urban poor. Recognizing the enormous investment needs in these areas, we encourage increased public and private investments. In this regard, we recognize the Committee on World Food Security’s voluntary Principles for Responsible Investment in Agriculture and Food Systems and the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests. We recognize the efforts of the International Fund for Agricultural Development in mobilizing investment to enable rural people living in poverty to improve their food security and nutrition, raise their incomes, and strengthen their resilience. We value the work of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) the World Food Programme, and the World Bank and other multilateral development banks. We also recognize the complementary role of social safety nets in ensuring food security and nutrition. In this regard, we welcome the Rome Declaration on Nutrition and the Framework for Action, which can provide policy options and strategies aimed at ensuring food security and nutrition for all. We also commit to increasing public investment, which plays a strategic role in financing research, infrastructure and pro-poor initiatives. We will strengthen our efforts to enhance food security and nutrition and focus our efforts on smallholders and women farmers, as well as on agricultural cooperatives and farmers’ networks. We call on relevant agencies to further coordinate and collaborate in this regard, in accordance with their respective mandates. These efforts must be supported by improving access to markets, enabling domestic and international environments, and strengthened collaboration across the many initiatives in this area, including regional initiatives, such as the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme. We will also work to significantly reduce post-harvest food loss and waste.
    121. We will support research and development of vaccines and medicines, as well as preventive measures and treatments for the communicable and non-communicable diseases, in particular those that disproportionately impact developing countries. We will support relevant initiatives, such as Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, which incentivizes innovation while expanding access in developing countries. To reach food security, we commit to further investment, including through enhanced international cooperation, in earth observation, rural infrastructure, agricultural research and extension services, and technology development by enhancing agricultural productive capacity in developing countries, in particular in least developed countries, for example by developing plant and livestock gene banks. We will increase scientific knowledge, develop research capacity and transfer marine technology, taking into account the Criteria and Guidelines on the Transfer of Marine Technology adopted by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, in order to improve ocean health and to enhance the contribution of marine biodiversity to the development of developing countries, in particular small island developing States and least developed countries.

  • In para 14, the document recommends the establishment of a global infrastructure forum, to be managed by the development banks to help coordinate and increase investments in infrastructure, a element of great importance to the agriculture sector.
  • There are a few mentions of encouraging corporate social responsibility and reporting on social and environmental impacts by companies (para 17, 36, 37). These mentions are not negative and are in the context of ‘encouraging’ and ‘supporting’ rather than requiring or enforcing.  In fact the document in general is very supportive of private sector investment and partnerships.
  • Finally there is an agreement to hold an annual forum on financing for development under the Economic and Social Council, to last up to 5 days, and possibly a follow up conference in 2019.

View the outcome document here.

Isabelle Coche

Isabelle has significant experience in advocacy and communications at the international and regional levels, and a broad knowledge of development and agriculture issues acquired through previous work in international organisations, private sector and NGOs. She has also successfully led key public affairs projects in highly sensitive issues, such as agricultural biotechnology and intellectual property rights. Isabelle holds a master in gender studies from the London School of Economics and a BA Honours in Political Science and Economics from McGill University. She has lived and worked in Africa and Asia and speaks fluently English and French.

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