Cablegate: Gof Hosts Informal Meeting On Global Food

DE RUEHFR #1436/01 2101612
R 281612Z JUL 08



E.O. 19528: N/A


PARIS 00001436 001.2 OF 004

1. (SBU) Summary: On 7/23 FranceQs Ministry of
Agriculture hosted an informal meeting with
international partners to further thinking on a
Qglobal partnership for food and agriculture.Q The
proposal fleshes out an initiative initially raised by
President Sarkozy at the June 3 High-level Food
Security Conference in Rome, and subsequently
discussed at an informal 6/19 meeting in Paris (ref).
The French see their three-pronged initiative as
responding to -- and validated by -- the G8 LeaderQs
Statement call for a global food partnership, as well
as for a Qglobal network of high-level experts on food
and agriculture.Q Aspects of the current French
proposal are still problematic, but there appears to
be sufficient common ground for us to work with the
GOF to shape the Global Partnership on Food and
Agriculture (termed by the French as the International
Group for Food Security). End summary.

2. (SBU) The 7/23 informal meeting was chaired by
Ministry of Agriculture DAS-equivalent for
International Affairs Philippe Vincon, and organized
by the MFA Directorate General for Cooperation (the
development ministry). USAID/Rome Richard Newberg,
USAID/DCHA/PPM Susan Bradley, Ag Minister Counselor
and Econ Counselor attended for the U.S. Bilat
participants (largely from Paris and/or Rome missions)
included Australia, Belgium, the UK, Mexico, Sweden,
Luxembourg, Canada, New Zealand, Germany, Poland,
Portugal, Switzerland, Denmark, Ireland and
Luxembourg. Representatives from the European
Commission, WFP, FAO, IFAD and the African Development
Bank also participated. The World Bank was not

3. (SBU) The GOF characterized its initiative as an
effort to make Qexisting instruments more efficient,
not to create new structures. The initiative would be
based on three pillars: 1) a global partnership that
would serve as a Qpolicy spaceQ for broad-based
stakeholder (governmental and NGO) discussions on food
security policy; 2) an international group of experts
that would bring a multidisciplinary perspective to
the table and inform the global partnership; 3) a
modest new financing facility, to be housed at IFAD,
that would help catalyze private sector and IFI
reengagement in agricultural investment and lending.
(Note: Post has e-mailed latest GOF working documents
describing three pillars to EUR/WE, EEB and F. End

Global Partnership on Food and Agriculture
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

4. (SBU) In its presentation of pillar one the GOF
emphasized the need for a place to discuss the impact
of broad-based public policy choices on food security,
and to better coordinate policy responses. From trade
to environmental issues a wide range of factors impact
global food security, yet there was no vehicle for
discussing general Qpolicy coherenceQ on such issues.
The French would open a partnership (which would come
together in annual high-level meetings) of UN
agencies, Bretton Woods institutions, donors,
beneficiaries, private sector and professional
organizations, supported by a secretariat. The global
partnership, or QInternational Group for Food
Security,Q would elaborate a comprehensive global
strategy on food security with recommendations on
agricultural production, regulation, policies, public
resource allocation, and the formulation of the
research agenda for an international panel of experts.
For the annual meetings an appointed panel of experts
would produce a report on global food insecurity and
the financing that was allocated to the effort. The
global partnership, presumably through the
Secretariat, would also develop and implement a
communications strategy to push out policy
recommendations. The GOF suggested the UNSYGQs Task
Force on Global Food Security Crisis might provide a
secretariat for such a group, but had not yet raised
the idea there.

5. (SBU) The presentation generated considerable
discussion on the challenge, and desirability, of
generating QglobalQ policy responses when key drivers

PARIS 00001436 002 OF 004

of food security varied considerably from region to
region. Most welcomed a multidisciplinary approach,
saying it made little sense to discuss food security
without taking into account poverty reduction goals,
the impact of climate change, trade policy and other
critical factors. Most, including the U.S., also
agreed that country-led responses would be a critical
part of the equation. The U.S. del cautioned against
a large bureaucratic structure and mandate associated
with the Global Partnership and Secretariat, and
suggested as a model the International Partnership on
Avian and Pandemic Influenza (IPAPI). The UK rep said
HMG thinking on a global partnership was Qfairly
advanced,Q that it favored a Qlight structureQ as
suggested by the U.S., and that the French proposal
Qcould be it.Q He emphasized the importance of
bringing private sector actors into the equation.
There was a general consensus that annual meetings
would be insufficient.

6. (SBU) The French chair informally summarized the
partnership discussion by saying that 1) views were
advanced, but the input of this group would be taken
into account in a final proposal; 2) the fact that 800
million people are suffering from hunger indicates
there is a policy problem that needs to be addressed,
and a need to help policymakers understand the impact
of broad-based policy choices on food security; 3)
nobody wants to create a new body, the idea is to
better coordinate existing agencies.

International Panel on Food Security
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

7. (SBU) The French described an QInternational Panel
on Food SecurityQ as a possible response to the G8
call for a Qglobal network of high-level experts.
The GOF envisions a multidisciplinary group of experts
to provide Qscientific, objective and incontestable
analysisQ to the Global Partnership (on an annual
basis) to better anticipate and manage food crises.
The IPCC and its analysis of climate change could
serve as a model. A secretariat could be housed at
the FAO. The group would have four functions: 1)
assess the food security situation; 2) analyze the
determinant factors of food insecurity; 3) analyze the
feasibility of different policy tools and measures; 4)
identify risks of food crises. The GOF emphasized the
importance of casting the net beyond agronomists, to
bring in economists, political scientists,
sociologists and others who could speak to the impact
of broader policy issues on food security.

8. (SBU) In follow-up discussion some participants
questioned the value-added of such a group, whether
and how the information would be used, and whether
existing structures might be tweaked to perform the
same functions. U.S. del recommended a lighter, more
inclusive and possibly voluntary, agile Qglobal
networkQ (again along the IPAPI model and as agreed to
by the G-8), rather than a panel of experts appointed
by a global partnership. The U.S. del also voiced
concern over housing a secretariat for the panel of
experts at FAO while that organization should be more
focused now on institutional reform. FAO must produce
an Immediate Action Plan to implement the
recommendations of the Independent External Evaluation
that is acceptable to the U.S. and other member
states. U.S. del further opined that much of the
proposed analysis is already out there and we should
move to action with a sense of urgency.

9. (SBU) In referring to the IPCC analogy the French
chair summarized by acknowledging that the science of
climate change was QsimpleQ relative to the science of
food security. The French recognized the need to
clarify the relationship between the experts group
(pillar 2) and the global partnership (panel 1). In
the French view the QpartnershipQ would be the place
for strategic discussion of political and economic
policy, the experts group a means of involving the
scientific community in informing that discussion.
For example, what is the impact of climate change on
agricultural production in five or ten years? The
scientific community could give advice to policymakers
in terms of consequences. On FAO, the French agreed
on the criticality of reform going forward. But for
QcoherenceQ an experts group on food and agriculture

PARIS 00001436 003.2 OF 004

would have to have some sort of relationship with FAO.

Financial Reengagement
- - - - - - - - - - - -

10. (SBU) The third pillar (Qfinancial reengagementQ)
responds to what the GOF sees as a need for Qmassive
reengagementQ of the financial community to ensure
food security. There were five targets: eliminate
bottlenecks (ranging from land and water use to
financial services); improve public policies; create
jobs; improve safety nets; and compensate for macro
shocks. These could be tackled through four main
channels: strengthening existing specialized
institutions; reengaging multilateral institutions
(including new instruments and expertise); engaging
new actors (better tapping global savings, including
sovereign wealth funds); and by creating a new
facility (a QGlobal Facility for Food SecurityQ) to be
housed at IFAD.

11. (SBU) For the latter the GOF envisions a
catalytic, flexible facility to finance Qniche
projects and Qtake risksQ that larger institutions
might shun. The facility would have two windows, one
to support capacity-building and enhance prevention
and management of food crises, a second to support
projects to boost productivity (with particular focus
on smallholders). Added-value would come from the
focus on innovative financing and smallholders. The
facility would also help to access (and thus improve
the efficiency of) larger investment funds to scale up
projects. The French reported that private sector
institutions such as Credit Agricole had expressed
interest in becoming more active in the sector,
provided they could be accompanied by a facility such
as that which the GOF was proposing.

12. (SBU) In follow-up discussion the IFAD rep
confirmed that his organization would be willing to
host such a facility. In responding to the U.S. del
question as to why these same objectives could not be
pursued as part of the next replenishment cycle (2010-
2012), in which IFAD is requesting a doubling of
resources to scale up programs in response to rising
food and fuel prices, the IFAD rep said that a
facility as proposed by the French (a multi-donor
trust fund) would not be limited by IFAD strictures
and could be designed for maximum flexibility,
including for possible financing of private sector
initiatives, and attract additional funding. The U.S.
del also raised concerns about a proposed parallel
governance structure for the facility that would
appear to substitute for the role of the Executive
Board, especially if the proposed facility was to be
substantial. The French presenter said the proposed
fund would not be that large, but if it grew to $1
billion that would be QgreatQ.

13. (SBU) In his informal conclusion the French chair
noted general agreement on the need for more, and more
innovative, investment (including private sector
investment) in agriculture. The size of, and rules
for access to, a facility are open questions, as are
questions related to governance. While the GOF was
suggesting a fairly modest-sounding facility, it was
Qtoo earlyQ to discuss numbers. The African Water
Facility, housed within the African Development Bank,
might serve as a reference in terms of scale.

Next Steps
- - - - - -

14. (SBU) Looking ahead the French said they plan to
meet with the UN Task Force in August, and consult
further with EU partners. They hope to distribute
draft working papers (in English) incorporating the
7/23 discussion by late August. In early fall the GOF
would look to meet with developing country partners.
France was considering putting something on the table
for broader consideration at UNGA in late September
(Note: Consistent with the G8 Leaders Statement call
to Qwork with other interested parties for the next
UN General Assembly to realize the global
partnership.Q End note.) The World Bank/IMF Annual
Meetings in October might also be a suitable venue for
further discussion of the global partnership.

PARIS 00001436 004.2 OF 004

15. (SBU) Comment: The GOF sees itself in the lead,
even beyond its EU presidency, for creating a global
partnership for food and agriculture, and plans to
present a proposal for the UNGA in September. From
our vantage thereQs sufficient common ground to engage
with the French and shape the partnership, which, in
its broad outlines, the GOF sees as having been
validated by (and responding to) the G8 Leadership
Statement. The GOF will be under the gun from
President Sarkozy to push this effort forward. In its
view the train has left the station and we will need
to work constructively with the French well in advance
of UNGA to avoid unpleasant surprises. An offer to
co-host with the French (possibly in conjunction with
appropriate G8 partners such as Italy, the U.K., or
Japan) an event related to the partnership proposal on
the margins of UNGA (or the WB/IMF Annual Meetings)
could be a way of ensuring that weQre on the same


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