Food security is not so much a new issue as it is a new approach to an old issue, an approach that is in the forefront of new thinking about business in development. The Rio+20 Summit on Sustainable Development in June, while many were disappointed in the level of commitments, will eventually be recognized as a landmark occasion for integrating social, economic and environmental aspects of sustainable development and for articulating the inter-linkages among these aspects. And it is especially in the elevated attention given to food security and nutrition and sustainable agriculture where these inter-linkages are articulated. The Rio Declaration calls for increasing sustainable agricultural production and productivity globally by “increasing public and private investment in sustainable agriculture, land management and rural development.” The Declaration further notes the key areas for investment and support to include “sustainable agricultural practices; rural infrastructure, storage capacities and related technologies; research and development on sustainable agricultural technologies; developing strong agricultural cooperatives and value chains; and strengthening urban-rural linkages”. This, then, is an area where business in development can and must play an instrumental role, and CMBD provides a forum for addressing the business engagement in supply chain responsibilities, linkages to smallholder practicalities and appreciating the distinctions between global and local markets, as well as the broader policy issues involving poverty eradication, nutrition and health promotion.
As a facilitator of cross-cutting policy dialogues, CMBD is organizing a special event in October in Rome to coincide with the meeting of the Committee on Global Food Security and to renew acquaintances with key officials at the Food and Agriculture Organization, the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the World Food Programme. In Geneva, too, CMBD offers opportunities for networking with policymakers on nutrition and food safety at the World Health Organization, on commodities and rural development at the UN Conference on Trade and Development, on agricultural trade liberalization at the World Trade Organization, on eliminating child labour (see a separate report on child labour below) and enhancing smallholder livelihoods at the International Labour Organization, and on the right to food at the Human Rights Council. It is the inter-linkages among these diverse approaches to food security, nutrition and sustainable agriculture that provide a panoramic guide to the challenges and opportunities for business to contribute to the “new” economic thinking about business in development.