Le ONG cattoliche e la sicurezza alimentare

Caritas-CIDSE G20 Network[1]

Food Security and the G20

Hunger is not so much dependent on lack of material things, as on shortage of social resources,

the most important of which are institutional.”

Pope Benedict XVI (Caritas in Veritate) [2]

It is the right of all human beings to live in dignity, free from hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition. There are nearly a billion people suffering from hunger in the world today[3]. In every society food does not comprise of solely material ‘nutritional’ elements, but also social, economical, political, cultural elements connected to food use, production and trade. Food issues are therefore of utmost importance because they are linked to a much wider set of livelihood issues. Endangering food security has obvious impacts on the most vulnerable social groups, the poorest. Improving food security is not an objective that can be pursued with a purely ‘quantitative’ approach (more food=more food security), but within a wider ‘right to food’ approach.

Food security is not determined randomly or by fate; it is the consequence of precise choices. We wish to outline some of these choices below, specifically; unfair resource access, unfair market conditions (asymmetry; global vs. local), unheard voices, unresponsive institutional environments, a lack of technical solutions that underscore the importance of local knowledge, and the complexities of local conditions not being acknowledged in global policy decisions.

The better regulation of markets, strengthening of local food production and mandates which are increasing food insecurity, must be addressed by the G20. Better access to, and participation in, markets for smallholder farmers is crucial to providing a supportive environment in which smallholders can engage in local economies.

Much more needs to be done to ensure that poor men and women can participate meaningfully in the economy and that inequality and poverty are reduced.  We are aware that issues of food security side in a wider problem of issues of inequality at an economic level. The promotion of inclusive growth that reduces inequality must become a more prominent priority, not just focussing on increasing production, if we are to tackle food security. Increasing food reserves, curbing speculation on food prices and introducing social protection schemes are also part of the solution to addressing food security at a holistic level.

His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, in his address to FAO at the World Summit on Food Security, declared; hunger is “the most cruel and concrete sign of poverty”, assuming such proportions as to make opulence and waste unacceptable[4]. He highlighted that food insecurity stems not from the lack of sufficient food, but rather from the increasing disparity in levels of development between and within countries. The steady contrast between poverty and wealth may dangerously lead one to consider food insecurity as a structural reality typical of poorer countries. As a network of Catholic social and development agencies, we will never subscribe to this view. Hunger is not inevitable; on the contrary it must be tackled by fighting its structural causes through a long-term approach, primarily by promoting the agricultural development of poor countries[5], which includes providing better access to markets for small-holder farmers.

Speculation Bit!!

International action at the G20 must be based on the principles of cooperation, subsidiary (involving local communities in decision making), solidarity and responsibility. International action to eliminate hunger must, therefore, not just seek to promote sustainable economic growth and political stability, but also new ethical, juridical and economic parameters necessary to build relationships of parity between countries at different stages of development[6]. These are the principles we expect this G20 Summit to apply.

Based on the background paper “Food Security: a G20 priority – the input of Mexico’s experiences”, we wish to counter the political tendency to combat food insecurity solely through: Research and innovation → GMOs and enhancing food production, and, investment in agri-food → public-private partnerships; “(…) the only solution to achieve food security and mitigate food price volatility is an increase in the supply of agricultural products.[7] This is certainly not the only solution to achieving food security, but one way which, if included in a more equitable food system as a whole, could bring about lasting food security on a global scale.

We call for the G20 to ensure the adoption of more inclusive growth which they committed to achieving in Seoul 2010[8]. This must include better access to markets for small holder farmers, so that they can participate more effectively thus avoiding product and marketing standards that discriminate against the most vulnerable people in our society. The G20 should encourage other multilateral fora (such as the FAO)  to address the many factors which limit the access of female and male small-scale farmers, women-led households and landless workers in developing countries to affordable and adequate food, as well as their ability to achieve a secure and decent livelihood for themselves and their families.

The Mexican G20 has a real opportunity to show valuable and lasting leadership on the issue of food security. We as the Caritas-CIDSE G20 Network hope that this is taken as an opportunity to put the world’s most vulnerable people at the top of the agenda, so that a G20 adoption of a more inclusive model of growth is a catalyst for improving access to local markets for small scale farmers. It is this relationship between global decisions affecting local participation which can help lift poor and vulnerable people out of poverty, for good.


[1] The Cartias-CIDSE G20 Network is a Network of Catholic agencies working in collaboration to advocate, at the G20, for the most vulnerable in our world.

[2] Caritas in Veritate, 2009 http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/encyclicals/documents/hf_ben-xvi_enc_20090629_caritas-in-veritate_en.html

[3] http://www.g20-g8.com/g8-g20/g20/english/priorities-for-france/the-priorities-of-the-french-presidency/sheets/food-security.339.html

[4] Address of His Holiness Benedict XVI to FAO on the occasion of the World Food Summit on Food Security, paragraph 10, 16 November 2009. http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/speeches/2009/november/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_20091116_fao_en.html

[5] Address of His Holiness Benedict XVI to FAO on the occasion of the World Food Summit on Food Security, paragraph 10, 16 November 2009. http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/speeches/2009/november/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_20091116_fao_en.html

[6] Address of His Holiness Benedict XVI to FAO on the occasion of the World Food Summit on Food Security, paragraph 10, 16 November 2009. http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/speeches/2009/november/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_20091116_fao_en.html, paragraph 5.

[7] “Food Security: A G20 Priority the Input of Mexican Experiences” Mariano Ruiz-Funes Macedo, 2012

[8] Seoul G20 Communiqué 2010, accessed at – http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/nov/12/g20-declaration-full-text