"We are back and proud to be back [on the] "global food security table," said Ertharin Cousin, US Permanent Representative to the UN Agencies in Rome, addressing an event on 'Transatlantic Approaches to Global Food Security' on 26 May in Brussels.
Her comments came after the launch of the US government's global hunger and food security initiative, Feed the Future (FTF), earlier this month.
The initiative is referred to as a renewed commitment by the US "to invest in sustainably reducing hunger and poverty".
She added that the plan seeks to deal with the root causes of hunger through increases in agricultural productivity, for example.
Ambassador Cousin underlined that the FTF initiative is guided by the five 2009 Rome World Food Summit principles, including investments in country-owned programmes and development plans, support for regional cooperation and facilitating sustainable investment in agriculture (EurActiv 17/11/09).
New multi-donor trust fund
The US is also committed to the Global Agriculture and Food Security Programme (GAFSP) launched in April. The GAFSP is a new multi-donor trust fund managed by the World Bank to improve food security and incomes in poor countries via assistance to agriculture.
The fund focuses on financing medium- and long-term elements of agricultural development in three major areas: raising agricultural productivity, linking farmers to markets, and providing technical assistance and capacity building. It will also finance private sector activities to "help catalyse investment along the agricultural value chain".
The fund's founding donors, Canada, the Republic of Korea, Spain, the United States and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, pledged initial contributions totalling $880 million last month.
Ambassador Cousin said she hoped that the EU "realises the value of the fund and supports it".
Meanwhile, Peteris Ustubs, deputy head of cabinet for EU Development Commissioner Andris Piebalgs, said that the EU executive is against the creation of more and new funds as "each fund tends to create its own bureaucracy," which he says decreases the effectiveness of development aid.
But the Commission supports reform of existing structures, such as revamping the UN committee on food security, he added.
Addressing the root causes of hunger
Ustubs stressed the urgency of addressing the root causes of hunger, instead of just responding to emergency situations.
"We are not able to bring food security from outside," he said, stressing the need to support national initiatives and regional cooperation in Africa.
Following a recent Commission communication on food security in developing countries, the EU plans to launch a joint initiative with the African Union to accelerate the implementation of African Land Policy Guidelines (EurActiv 02/04/10). The initiative will include a roadmap for the implementation of "sustainable large-scale investments in farmland".
Ustubs also stressed that "more food production does not necessarily always lead to food security," referring to the EU's recent commitment to prioritise aid towards "sustainable and ecologically-efficient" farm intensification approaches (EurActiv 11/05/10).
These would, according to the Commission, include optimisation of agricultural inputs, support for integrated pest management, improved soil and water management and stress-resistant crop varieties, for example.