Helen Medina, USCIB’s senior director for product policy and innovation, has been working with the International Agri-Food Network (IAFN) to provide input into the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) set of Principles for Responsible Agriculture Investment (RAI) in the context of food security and nutrition.
The objective of the principles, as requested by the Committee on World Food Security (CFS), is to promote responsible investments in agriculture and food systems that contribute to food security and nutrition and support the progressive realization of the right to adequate food in the context of national food security. The principles address all stakeholders that are involved in, benefit from, or are affected by investments in food systems.
Most recently, Medina posted comments on behalf of USCIB to the FAO’s Forum on Food Security and Nutrition. USCIB will continue to monitor progress, as well as provide comments to the Committee on World Food Security’s consultative process, in conjunction with its partner, the IAFN. The Committee on Food Security’s RAI principles will be presented and negotiated at a plenary session in May in Rome.
Thus far, USCIB has made several recommendations in regards to the agriculture investment principles, including on the role of the private sector, and in the areas of investment and the environment, and monitoring and evaluation of implementation of principles. USCIB has had concerns in regards to the monitoring and evaluation, as well as the roles and responsibilities. Furthermore, the principles do not address the question of who will monitor progress, or whether there will be an entity to which companies and countries will report.
USCIB supports the following messages:
- The principles should be forward thinking and encourage the right actions in a manner that respects the broad diversity of the agri-food system.
- One investment cannot achieve all things. For instance, we want to encourage linking to smallholders, but not every investment is in primary production. It may be further down the value chain or it may not be particularly relevant in that geography.
- Environmental impacts of investment projects should be assessed and measures taken to encourage sustainable resource use while minimizing the risk of negative impacts and mitigating them.
- Good governance structures are required; domestic markets and foreign investment require the same conducive operating environment, including: peace and stability, the rule of law, good governance with accountability and transparency, the absence of corruption, adequate infrastructure, an educated workforce, clear property rights, open markets and trade, and enforceable contracts.
- Clearly articulated national priorities for development can help guide investment and assess the most suited investment proposals.
- Investments should take place in: sustainable agricultural practices; rural infrastructure, storage capacities and related technologies; research and development on sustainable agricultural technologies; developing strong agricultural cooperatives and value chains; reducing post-harvest and other food losses and waste throughout the food supply chain.
- All stakeholders involved and affected by large scale investments should be part of the consultation and assessment process.
- Both public and private sector investment can contribute to develop a robust agricultural sector and value chain – both need the same conducive operating environment, offering predictability, transparency, accountability, and stability.
Staff contacts: Helen Medina