G20 fails on food

ActionAid activists protest ahead of G20 Agriculture Ministers' meeting in Paris
ActionAid activists protest at G20 Agriculture Ministers' meeting in Paris
Photo: Magali Delporte/ActionAid

The first ever G20 Agriculture Ministers’ meeting ended in failure as the world’s leading economies failed to take the decisions needed to avert a looming global food crisis.

In the lead up to the meeting in Paris, French President Sarkozy had promised that the meeting would deliver swift action to address the looming food crisis, which threatens to drive global hunger back over the one billion mark.

But the decisions needed to curb food price volatility and tackle soaring food commodity prices were not forthcoming as the ministers chose instead to sit on the sidelines of the escalating global crisis.

Whilst they acknowledged the need to support smallholder and women farmers, who produce most of the world’s food, ministers failed to announce additional funding for food producers.

Food reserves – measures that could ensure food security, support smallholders, and help manage price stability – were rejected by Minsters’ who appeared reluctant to take the decisions needed to tackle food speculation.

Instead, they launched the Agricultural Market Information System (AMIS), which encourages major agri-food players to share data and promote co-operation – far from a commitment to act.

Disappointingly, ministers also chose to ignore warnings from 10 international organisations, including the FAO, OECD, World Bank and World Food Programme, who in a report commissioned specifically for this meeting, warned that demand for food and feed crops for the production of biofuels is driving up global food prices and will continue to do so in the future.

The report recommended that all biofuels targets and mandates be dropped - and we expect ministers to take its recommendations on board.

But instead of announcing an end to the targets and financial incentives that are driving up demand for biofuels in the EU and other major economies, ministers called for further analysis of the link between biofuels and food prices – keeping the harmful policies in place rather than first assessing their impacts.

ActionAid activists were in Paris calling on President Sarkozy and G20 Ministers to keep their promises on global food security and will continue to do so ahead of the G20 summit in November.

Click here to check out a video of what they got up to.