Ultimately, what matters most is “bread and butter” politics.
It’s easy to obsess about the current state of Europe’s economy, but there’s no shortage of other challenges facing the world right now; issues like energy security, resource shortages and climate change haven’t gone away. Feeding an ever-expanding global population (predicted to exceed 9 billion by 2050) sits fairly high up the list of important issues. Today, then, we’ll be talking about food security, and we want to collect some of your questions and comments in preparation for an upcoming event being held in Brussels.
Next month, the European Commission will be hosting EU Development Days, a two-day forum on international affairs and development cooperation that will see Heads of State, Nobel Prize laureates, business leaders, and development professionals meet to discuss some of the global issue (such as food security) that are at risk of slipping down the international agenda in the wake of the economic crisis.
Food security is one of those issues that has a huge impact on other areas, including economic growth, political stability and poverty. Public disquiet over rising food prices in 2007-2008 was the spark that helped light the Arab Spring. The effects of getting it wrong can be devastating; during the summer of 2011, the worst drought in 60 years struck East Africa, leading to famine and tens of thousands of deaths. Lessons have been learned, however; today, Niger is suffering its worst food crisis in a decade, but the government’s response has been described as a “success story” by NGOs.
Still, problems persist. Earlier this year, we spoke to Olivier de Schutter, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food. He underlined just how inefficient the current system really is:
About one-third of all the food we produce each year is not consumed; about 1.3 billion tons of cereals are being lost or wasted. These are either losses in developing countries, resulting from poor storage facilities or crops rotting before they can be sold and passed onto consumers; or, in developed countries, supermarkets discard food before it is consumed. A quantity of food equivilant to the entire food production of Sub-Saharan Africa is just thrown away each year.
What do YOU think? How can we ensure greater food security for the world’s hungry? Could new technologies help us grow food more effectively? Or do we need to stop wasting so much food, and try to be more efficient in how we consume? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policy-makers and experts to hear their reactions.
Ahead of the European Development Days forum, the International Development site DevEx (an official partner of EU DevDays) has published an interview with Gordon Conway – agricultural ecologist, professor of international development at the Centre for Environmental Policy, and director of Agriculture for Impact at Imperial College, London. You can read the interview here.