U.S. efforts to fight food insecurity around the world can provide increased security and economic vitality at home, particularly in rural areas, says a report from the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.
“The discussion of food security as a driver of stability is an urgent one as Congress and the administration consider the future security of the United States,” said council president Ivo Daalder. “It is vital that the United States sustain successful investments, such as those in international agricultural development that have contributed to decades of human progress – especially as famines are emerging on multiple fronts, populations are booming and the effects of climate change are making farming more difficult.”
The Chicago Council created a bipartisan task force on global food security, which issued a report at the council’s Global Food Security Symposium March 30 in Washington.
“The complex new food security challenges we face call for bold U.S. leadership but also present new opportunities for America,” said former USDA Secretary Dan Glickman, co-chair of the task force. “Agriculture must become more productive in low-income countries, not just to feed rapidly growing populations but also to generate economic opportunity in the food system as hundreds of millions of young people enter the workforce in the coming decades. In addition, as agriculture abroad intensifies, incomes rise, translating into attractive new markets for American farmers and the broader agribusiness sector. Active U.S. leadership would help accelerate this.”
“Without urgent action, not only may the opportunity be lost, we could see a rise in food-related crises, which can spark broader unrest,” added former U.S. Rep. Douglas Bereuter, the other co-chair. “U.S. support for global food and nutrition security is not at odds with policies that put American interests first; in fact, these efforts strongly reinforce our national security and economic agendas.”
As the report makes clear, the U.S. benefits from a more prosperous, safer and healthier world, including new knowledge, research and technologies for our food and agriculture sector; expanded markets at home and abroad for American businesses and entrepreneurs; new and renewed strategic relationships in key areas of the world; and increased security from the reduction of hunger-related political and economic instability. Though addressing these needs will require government leadership, it is also a significant investment opportunity for the private sector given that in Africa alone the value of the agriculture and food sector is expected to reach $1 trillion by 2030.
Specifically, the report calls for the U.S. presidential administration and Congress, in close collaboration with the private sector, civil society, universities, multilateral institutions and other national governments, to take urgent action in four key areas:
- Make global food and nutrition security a pillar of U.S. diplomatic and national security engagement and strengthen the integration and coordination of activities both within the United States and around the world;
- Prioritize public research investments to unlock innovation and harness new technologies for the agriculture, food and nutrition sectors;
- Productively partner with committed companies to amplify the power of the private sector to transform food and nutrition security, from individual entrepreneurs to multinational businesses;
- In strategic alignment with foreign policy goals, ensure that U.S. agriculture and nutrition assistance programs are efficient and support low-income countries’ capacity to implement responsible and effective policies.
“The United States has a legacy of commitment to this issue for many reasons – moral, economic and security-related,” said Alesha Black, director of the Council’s global food and agricultural program. “The findings of this report reinforce why American leaders as far back as Truman and Eisenhower have recognized the importance of food security. Smart investments and concerted action now could lead to historic gains for ending global hunger, which will pay dividends for American interests and the world.”
In addition to Bereuter and Glickman, task force members included:
- Catherine Bertini, distinguished fellow, Global Food and Agriculture, Chicago Council on Global Affairs; professor of public administration and international affairs, Maxwell School, Syracuse University
- James C. Borel, former executive vice president, DuPont
- Euler K. Bropleh, founder and managing director, VestedWorld
- Thomas A. Daschle, former senator and founder and chief executive officer, The Daschle Group
- Tony Fratto, partner, Hamilton Place Strategies
- Rikin Gandhi, chief executive officer, Digital Green
- Aubrey Hruby, senior visiting fellow, Africa Center, Atlantic Council; co-author, The Next Africa
- A.G. Kawamura, co-chair, Solutions from the Land
- Janet Napolitano, former Arizona governor, former Secretary of Homeland Security and president of University of California
- Steven Radelet, Donald F. McHenry chair in global human development; director, Global Human Development Program, Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University
- Christina Sass, co-founder and chief operating officer, Andela
- Rajiv Shah, president, the Rockefeller Foundation
- Ann M. Veneman, former U.S. secretary of agriculture; former executive director, UN Children’s Fund
Learn more at thechicagocouncil.org.