In advance of the G8 Summit at Camp David last weekend, President Obama joined four African Heads of State, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, private-sector leaders, and Bono from the band U2 and the ONE Campaign at the 3rd Annual Symposium on Global Agriculture and Food Security. Hosted by The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, the symposium highlighted the pressing issue of global food security.
At the event, President Obama launched the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, which aims to drive inclusive agricultural growth and raise 50 million people out of poverty over the next 10 years by aligning:
- the commitments of Africa’s leadership to drive effective country plans and policies for food security;
- the commitments of private-sector partners to increase investments where the conditions are right; and
- the commitments of the G8 to expand Africa’s potential for rapid and sustainable agricultural growth.
The world’s population is projected to increase to more than 9 billion people by 2050, requiring up to a 70% increase in global agricultural production. Nearly one billion people—more than 1 in 7 people in the world—already suffer from chronic hunger. With increased population pressure and a changing climate, food will have to be produced with less water and land. That food will also need to be highly nutritious; providing empty calories—particularly to pregnant women and young children—can result in permanent mental and physical impairment.
A few highlights from the G8 and African leaders’ commitments that are most relevant to science, technology, and innovation include:
- Crop research. G8 and African countries, in partnership with the private sector and civil society, will focus on deployment of high-impact crops. Crops will be evaluated on a number of factors, including yield, nutritional value, and resilience in a hotter, drier climate.
- Nutrition. The first 1,000 days of a person’s life (from conception through age 2) represent a critical nutrition window that has lifelong impacts. Commitments included development and deployment of healthier crops, as well as support for the international Scaling Up Nutrition movement.
- Digital technologies and data innovators. A tremendous amount of data exists that could help strengthen agriculture systems in the developing world. G8 and African countries will focus on making data in areas such as weather, crops, and markets more available, and launch an information and communications technology innovation challenge that will focus on the use of digital technologies to strengthen agriculture extension systems.
Speaking at the symposium, President Obama said: “As the wealthiest nation on Earth, I believe the United States has a moral obligation to lead the fight against hunger and malnutrition, and to partner with others.” The New Alliance is an important part of the United States living up to this obligation.
Hillary Chen is Senior Advisor for Global Development to the Deputy Director for Policy at OSTP