CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Donor progress against the L’Aquila promises shows that the G8 and other major donors are not approaching agriculture and food security with the urgency they deserve. Partial transparency and accountability on reporting what has been accomplished so far hamper rather than invigorate the process. A major injection of political will and good faith are needed without further delay to leverage support from other donors, recipient country governments and the private sector.
Progress against the L’Aquila promises has been insufficient to address the scale of the challenges now and ahead, especially given that less than one-third of the pledges actually consisted of new money. Delivering less than a quarter of commitments one year into a three-year pledge does not convince ONE that donors are ‘on track’ to meet their commitments. Even though around another quarter is ‘firmly committed’, little information is provided as to how, when, where or for what purposes. The remaining 50% is still a complete mystery. Without evidence of progress, how will donors reassure smallholder farmers that they will deliver? Also critical is how these funds will reach poor and vulnerable populations. While some donors such as the US have undertaken substantial efforts to improve the way that they do business, this is not evident across the G7.
Accountability and transparency are not just espoused ideals for aid effectiveness, they are real promises made by the L’Aquila donors to real people in peril; real people whose lives and futures depend on better aid for agriculture, food security and rural development. They were also promises made to African governments and international institutions and to future partners within the private sector. Failure to meet these promises would result in abysmal consequences, and even partial or lacklustre progress is damaging, if not destabilising. While the L’Aquila donors are not the only ones responsible for tackling the challenges presented by food insecurity and poverty, they are the lynchpin to success. Without overwhelming enthusiasm to meet their promises – financial and qualitative – and working towards a longer-term strategy for eradicating poverty, political will from African governments and financial support from the private sector may begin to fade away.
Looking ahead, the L’Aquila donors must recognise that the scale of these challenges far outstrips anything that $22 billion over three years could possibly accomplish. There are nearly 1 billion people in the world who are food-insecure today. Rising and more volatile food prices threaten to roll back much of the progress that has been made in the fight against extreme poverty and continue to plague those who are chronically poor and vulnerable to food price, economic and climatic shocks. If donors, recipient governments and the private sector do not get serious about confronting these issues now, the number of food-insecure people will only climb, by the millions.
At the G20 Summit in France this November, one of the main development priorities will be to limit food price volatility. The importance of investing in agriculture and food security to kickstart growth and build resilience to shocks should not be overlooked, but rather reprioritised. Globally, leaders should build on the AFSI for immediate action on food security beyond these commitments. The promises made in 2009 were noble, but inadequate. An improved agenda should vigorously recommit to investing in agriculture as the quickest and most sustainable pathway out of poverty, and one that can no longer be neglected. This revised agenda should begin to reflect emerging global power dynamics by creating equal partnerships with emerging economies and recipient countries in decision-making and financial responsibilities. The G20 should also commit to leveraging new forms of innovative finance for agricultural development. In addition, they should require a new approach to accountability and transparency – a comprehensive and streamlined set of indicators for measurement of funding, targets, purposes and aid practices that can be independently verified and that are accessible to all.
At the upcoming G20 Summit in Cannes, France in November 2011, the G20 should commit to:
Fulfil their L’Aquila commitments
- Urgently and rapidly fulfil the L’Aquila commitments on aid quality and quantity for agricultural development and food security.
- The US should fulfil its outstanding pledge of $308 million to the Global Agriculture and Food Security Programme (GAFSP), and other countries should pledge additional monies to improve multilateral coordination for funding country-owned agricultural development and food security programmes.
Reduce food price volatility
- Make more information publicly available about grain stocks, and refrain from export bans to help prevent extreme food price spikes and to temper price volatility.
- Create position limits for food commodity futures on financial markets.
- Require that all derivatives of food commodities are subject to notification, clearing and monitoring by making position information publicly available.
- Establish a regulatory body, similar to the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), for futures trading in European and other markets.
Build on the AFSI to include emerging donors, more transparency and accountability, and commitments through 2015
- Create equal partnerships between donors and recipients in the design and implementation of development assistance for agriculture and food security.
- Emphasise the need for investments in agriculture, food security and nutrition that target smallholder farmers, especially women, and that integrate environmental sustainability as the fastest pathway out of poverty.
- Ensure that investments in agricultural risk management and social safety-net programmes ease the impacts of current price spikes and build the resilience of poor people to withstand future shocks.
- Ensure that public investments incentivise private sector investment consistent with the Rome and other aid effectiveness principles and leverage innovative sources of finance.
- Improve transparency and accountability of delivering on promises by agreeing to:
- A unified and consistent reporting standard
- OECD DAC indicators to identify whether development dollars are targeted towards the most vulnerable people
- Measurable outcomes and indicators and corresponding baselines to track progress.