Statement by Courtney Nemroff, Counselor for Economic and Social Affairs, on Agenda Item 26 Agriculture Development and Food Security at the Second Committee

Courtney Nemroff
Counselor for Economic and Social Affairs 
U.S. Mission to the United Nations 
New York, NY
November 5, 2012


Mr. Chairman, since the G8 meeting in L’Aquila, Italy in 2009, UN Member States have brought increased attention to the issue of food security and nutrition and the nearly 1 billion people affected by hunger around the world.

President Obama’s L’Aquila commitment of at least $3.5 billion to combat hunger over the course of three years has helped leverage and align more than $22 billion in commitments from other donors in support of a common approach to achieve sustainable food security.

This financial pledge led to the development of the U.S. Feed the Future initiative, which helps address the root causes of hunger and under-nutrition through sustainable development of agricultural value chains. By working with other donors, partner country governments, international organizations, the private sector, and civil society, Feed the Future aims to lift the incomes of 18 million vulnerable people; prevent stunting and child mortality for 7 million children; generate nearly 3 billion dollars in agricultural income in target regions through research and development; and leverage 70 million more dollars in private investments to improve sustainable market opportunities for vulnerable populations.

In May, the G8 and African leaders, joined by African and international private sector companies, launched the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, a shared commitment to achieve sustained and inclusive agricultural growth on the continent of Africa and to raise 50 million people out of poverty over the next 10 years. In September, during the General Assembly’s High Level Week, the New Alliance shared early successes in Ethiopia, Ghana, and Tanzania, and expanded the New Alliance Cooperation Frameworks to Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, and Mozambique. As part of the New Alliance, international and African companies pledged over $3.5 billion to agricultural and nutritional investments in Africa.

On nutrition, we would highlight that economic experts found in the 2012 review of the Copenhagen Consensus that the single best investment to promote global development was in improving nutrition. Through Feed the Future, the United States is integrating nutrition into agricultural development and food aid programs, and has set ambitious targets that contribute to the World Health Assembly’s new global goal to reduce the number of stunted children by 40 percent by 2025.

Research has also made it absolutely clear that good nutrition in the critical 1,000-day period from a woman’s pregnancy until her child’s second birthday has the biggest impact on saving lives and improving lifelong cognitive and physical development. The United States is pleased to be involved in the 1,000 Days partnership, and is encouraged that thirty countries and over 100 private sector and civil society partners have committed to the Scaling Up Nutrition Framework’s success. We look forward to continuing to work together with other stakeholders to implement the SUN roadmap to prevent the deaths and stunting of many millions of children worldwide.

Our food security efforts also highlight the importance of the cross-cutting issues of gender, environment, and climate change. Women are central to the development of rural areas and to national economies: they account for 43 percent of the agricultural labor force, play a key role in food production, especially in subsistence farming, and perform most unpaid work in rural areas. Given the crucial, but undervalued, part that they play in agricultural production in the developing world, gender-specific and gender-sensitive programming will continue to be central to implementation of Feed the Future.

A comprehensive approach to food security should include research and development. Feed the Future prioritizes this aspect and we encourage our partners to do the same, increasing investment in research and development and deploying new technologies and practices that will increase incomes, improve nutrition, and strengthen resilience among resource-poor populations.

Civil society organizations in donor and partner countries are crucial to our success meeting food security and nutrition challenges. They bring a wealth of ideas, energy and resources to the fight against global food insecurity and under-nutrition.

As we heard at the Feed the Future: Partnering with Civil Society event co-hosted by President Banda of Malawi and Secretary Clinton during the opening of this session of the General Assembly, InterAction, the largest alliance of U.S.-based international NGOs, has committed that its members will collectively spend more than $1 billion on programs that advance food security, agriculture, and nutrition from October 2012 to September 2015. And just as these organizations hold governments accountable, they have agreed to hold themselves accountable, as well. We applaud this approach.

Private sector investment in agriculture, from farm to plate, can boost agricultural productivity and output by bringing needed capital, inputs and technology, as well as access to regional and global value chains.

Mr. Chairman,

We need to continue to press forward on our efforts, even in these difficult economic times – indeed, especially in these difficult economic times. It is a humanitarian and moral imperative, and it also has a direct impact on global security and stability. The United States is committed to working collectively with others to address the threat of global food insecurity and malnutrition and reduce the number of hungry people around the world.


PRN: 2012/245