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High-level Task Force On The Global Food Crisis

Source: The Secretary-General's High-Level Task Force on the Global Food Security Crisis

High-level task force on the global food crisis - Elements of the Comprehensive Framework For Action

The Comprehensive Framework for Action (CFA) has been prepared by the High-Level Task Force established and chaired by the Secretary-General of the United Nations. The Task Force is composed of the heads of the UN specialized agencies, funds, and programmes; the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Trade Organization (WTO); and relevant parts of the UN Secretariat. Its purpose is to promote a coordinated response among agencies, national governments, donors, civil society and the private sector to the global food crisis and develop a plan of action.

The CFA describes actions to be taken urgently to meet immediate needs and to contribute to sustainable food security. It is intended to be a guide for global and national actors, both institutions and governments, and a catalyst for action that needs to start now. It represents a consensus between the members of the Task Force, and is not an intergovernmental document. It is also still a work in progress, and will be finalized after the Rome Conference.


The CFA provides a brief analysis of the global food crisis and the threats it represents, and outlines opportunities in several areas to improve global food security and further poverty reduction. It identifies two groups of actions to address the food crisis, to meet immediate needs and contribute to sustainable food security. The first group sets out how to help vulnerable people now, as both consumers and producers of food; while the second addresses more structural issues to build resilience and contribute to sustainable improvements in global food security within the context of the Millennium Development Goals.

Actions to Meet Immediate Needs

The CFA defines the 'Actions to Meet Immediate Needs' as new or existing initiatives which need to begin now or be scaled up quickly so that they can yield immediate and short term results to assist people and countries in need.

Objective: Improve people's access to food and take immediate steps to increase food production.

Intended Outcomes:

1. Better access of vulnerable population groups to emergency food assistance and other safety nets.

2. Boost to smallholder farmer food production.

3. Adjustment of trade and taxation policies that raise the prices of food and agriculture inputs, or restrict exports.

4. Effective management of the impact of the crisis on affected countries' balance of payments and wider economic stability.

5. Improved assessment and monitoring.

Menu of actions proposed:

1. Expand food assistance through food aid, vouchers or cash; scale up nutritional support; improve safety nets and social protection programmes to help the most vulnerable.

2. Boost smallholder farmer food production through an urgent injection of key inputs (seeds, fertilizers, etc), improved rural infrastructure and better links to markets, and an expansion of micro-credit programmes.

3. Adjustment of trade and taxation policies to minimize export restrictions and import tariffs, and help the free flow of agricultural goods.

4. Sensible management of the impact of rising food prices on inflation and macro-economic policy; balance of payments support to net food importers where necessary; and ensuring immediate actions to respond to food price rises are financially sustainable for governments.

5. Establishment or improvement of real-time food security and food market monitoring systems, as well as nutritional assessment systems, to ensure early warnings are received and contingency plans are in place.

Actions to Build Longer-Term Resilience and Contribute to Global Food Security

The CFA defines the 'Actions to Build Longer-Term Resilience and Contribute to Food Security' as those actions which must be initiated immediately or scaled up quickly to yield durable results over the longerterm.

Objective: Contribute to longer-term food security by addressing the underlying factors which have driven the food security crisis.

Intended Outcomes:

1. Sustained growth in food availability through improved smallholder-led production.

2. Increased coverage and efficiency of social protection systems.

3. Strengthened food security risk management.

4. Improved international food markets.

5. Development of greater international consensus on sustainable biofuels to avoid detrimental policies and practices that affect global food security.

Menu of actions proposed:

1. To boost production durably through establishment of appropriate national policy frameworks; sustained provision of quality local inputs (seeds, fertilizers, veterinary services); greater investment in agricultural research and technology; investment in rural infrastructure; action to promote local markets and develop local producer organizations; better land tenure policies; and improved provision of credit and insurance.

2. Improvement of safety net programs, including food assistance, vouchers and cash transfers, to ensure the most vulnerable groups are effectively targeted and reached, and that governments can most effectively respond to the needs of the poor.

3. Establish longer-term monitoring systems to ensure food crises can be anticipated and prevented; development of regional and global mechanisms to improve emergency access to food, for example through emergency grain reserves or stock sharing; improvement of country-level food stocks management; development of better financial risk management tools (weather insurance, catastrophe bonds)

4. Speedy completion of the Doha Development Round.

5. Reduction of agricultural trade distortions in higher income countries; assessment of the role of speculative investments in volatile food price movements.

6. Development of greater international consensus on sustainable biofuels: establishment of guidelines and best practices in the industry's development; research and development into new technologies, in particular for non-food biofuel crops; and reassessment of biofuel subsidies and protective tariffs.

Implementing the Framework


The CFA offers a menu of options for urgent actions and policies for governments and global policy makers seeking to respond to the global food crisis. The Secretary-General and his Task Force, and the institutions that they represent, will support Governments in planning and implementing their response to the crisis. While individual governments will make decisions on appropriate national solutions, the complexity of the issues also demands regional and global cooperation.

The Multilateral system

The Task Force has enabled the multilateral agency system, through the CFA, to come together around a single set of policy options, including for governments of countries affected by the food crisis. The CFA will influence in turn Task Force members' policy and programming options. In particular, the multilateral agencies are focusing on the following areas.

- UN system agencies, the World Bank, IMF and WTO are linking with NGOs, private sector and the wider humanitarian and development community, to use the CFA to ensure that their existing and future initiatives and programmes are coordinated.

- They are working with at least forty national governments to assess the current food security situation, needs, and options for immediate and longer-term action.

- They are focusing on the immediate needs of vulnerable groups - especially women and children - that are most at risk as a result of rising food prices, ensuring that food assistance and other safety nets are reaching them. They will pay special attention to the needs of those at risk of malnutrition. They will give high priority to ensuring that the World Food Programme and its partners are able to access emergency food stocks and transport them to where they are needed, on time.

- The World Bank has fast-tracked support to the most vulnerable countries with direct financing of safety nets and budgetary support.

- The IMF is working with some of the most affected countries on balance of payments support. - They are initiating urgent support to smallholder farmers so that they can receive inputs of seeds, fertilizer and other production requirements before the next planting season. The Food and Agriculture Organization, IFAD and the World Bank are fast tracking support to at least 30 countries in the next 3 months.

- They are working with governments on bio-fuel and trade issues as well as longer-term growth in food availability and sustainable agriculture.

- The Task Force will monitor the implementation of the actions emerging from the CFA in conjunction with national governments, private sector and NGOs, and identify and respond to additional challenges as they emerge.


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