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Global governance architecture to enhance food security and nutrition

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Regina Birner
IFPRI-FAO conference, "Accelerating the End of Hunger and Malnutrition"
November 28–30, 2018
Bangkok, Thailand

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Global governance architecture to enhance food security and nutrition

  1. 1. Global governance architecture to enhance food security and nutrition Regina Birner, Chair of Social and Institutional Change in Agricultural Development, University of Hohenheim, Stuttgart, Germany November 30, 2018, Bangkok
  2. 2. Questions to be addressed  What is “global governance for agriculture, food and nutrition”? And why do we need it?  What are the global governance challenges affecting food and nutrition security? And why do they prevail?  Why does the current global governance architecture need reform? And what are reform options?
  3. 3. Defining Global Governance  Global Governance o “The formal and informal institutions and organizations at the global level that aim to influence the agricultural and food system, o together with the patterns of organizational behavior to which they give rise” (von Braun and Birner, 2016: 3). Global governance architecture Global Governance Mechanisms 1) Creation of global organizations 2) Formulation of global goals 3) Binding agreements 4) Voluntary agreements and guidelines 5) Private commitments, standards and labels
  4. 4. Global Governance Architecture Global Governance Bodies G-7 G-20 UN Secretariat Assembly ECOSOC Security Council International Financial Institutions and Development Agencies World Bank IMF UNDP Charitable Foundations Specialized organizations in related sectors WTO IPCC UN Environment Environment Trade International sector-specific NGOs Specialized organizations in food, nutrition and agriculture FAO IFAD WFP Multinational agri-food companies CGIAR International civil society /NGOs Intergovernmental organizations International private sector organizations International civil society organizations and Multinational companies in other sectors WHO CFS / HLPE UN Women Gender UNSCN Health Climate Change
  5. 5. Justification for Global Action Justification Problems to be addressed / Opportunities to be used Social goals Humanitarian principles Respond to and prevent food and nutrition emergencies Reduce food price volatility Global fairness and equity Ensure food and nutrition security in foreign investments and international trade Market failure Global common pool resources (non-excludability; rivalry) Protect the resource base for food security: Reduce greenhouse gas emissions; prevent loss of agro-biodiversity Global public goods (strictly defined: non-excludability; non-rivalry) Support innovations that cannot be protected by Intellectual Property Rights; Eradicate transboundary diseases Externalities with global impact Prevent overuse of natural resources Coordination failure Reduce transaction costs for global trade Concentration of market power Regulate mergers of multi-national companies Source: Adapted from von Braun and Birner (2016: 4)
  6. 6. Indications of global governance challenges: Governance mechanisms in place, but limited progress  Natural resource management related to biodiversity, water, and soils o International agreements, but degradation continues  Climate change adaptation and mitigation o Paris Agreement as a milestone, but countries are leaving  Trade regimes, food reserves, and related global information o Progress on monitoring global food reserves; no progress on WTO, protectionism  Competition policy and standards for foreign direct investment (FDI) o Increasing concentration in the agro-industry; standards for FDI remain voluntary  International research and innovation in food and agriculture o Increase in funding after food crisis; but trend to turn CGIAR to a development agency  Responding to food and nutrition emergencies & hidden hunger o Food price crisis of 2008: caught the world unprepared; double burden unchecked  Trans-boundary food safety and health related investments and standards o Risk of transboundary livestock-originated human diseases
  7. 7. Global Governance Challenges Underlying causes  Problem of collective action – incentives for global free-riding oEssential role of national politics to address this challenge  Coordination challenges among an increasing range of actors oReflected, e.g., at country level by overlapping agendas  Bureaucratic inefficiency and “mission creep” oRole of leadership versus management and structural reforms  Global ideological divide on the future of agri-food systems oBetween “eco-romanticism” and “naïve faith in technology & markets”  Limits to regulating increasing private market power oInternational Competition Network (ICN), but regulatory authority remains national  Lack of speed in adjusting to new technological developments oBiological revolution (ethical issues?); Digital revolution (data governance?)
  8. 8. Reform options (1)  Global Platform for Food, Nutrition and Agriculture oGoal oEffective coordination body for global action – not replacing or duplicating existing organizations oStructure oIndependent forum for all actors (governmental, civil society, private sector) with a flat hierarchy oLegalized as an intergovernmental authority (might be built from a strengthened CFS, but truly independent) oChallenges: oLeadership often more important than institutional structure oHow to create legitimacy for the members of this body?
  9. 9. Reform Options (2)  A Science-based Assessment Mechanism for Food, Nutrition and Agriculture o Goal: Providing a sound evidence-base for global action o Beyond the current ideological divide o Model: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) o Rules: o Members are leading scientists from different parts of the world o Only quality-assured literature to be considered (unlike in case of IAASTD) o Limits of science-based assessment need to be acknowledged oEnabling governments, parliaments and farmers to choose “best-fit options”, owhile creating awareness for the need of global cooperation and coordination
  10. 10. Ideas for other reform options?
  11. 11. Reference  Braun, J. Von, & Birner, R. (2016). Designing Global Governance for Agricultural Development and Food and Nutrition Security. Review of Development Economics. Retrieved from  (open access)

Regina Birner IFPRI-FAO conference, "Accelerating the End of Hunger and Malnutrition" November 28–30, 2018 Bangkok, Thailand


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