Today, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton co-hosted an event with President Joyce Banda of Malawi, to highlight both the progressmade in the last three years under Feed the Future and the contributions of civil society organizations to advance our food security goals.
The highlight of the event was an extraordinary commitment by civil society organizations.
As Secretary Clinton said, “Today, I am pleased to announce a new commitment by civil society groups…InterAction, an alliance of 198 U.S.-based organizations, is pledging more than one billion dollars of private, non-government funds over the next three years to improve food security and improve nutrition worldwide. Of this one billion dollars, five U.S.-based organizations together have pledged to invest more than 900 billion dollars in this effort. They are: World Vision, Heifer International, Catholic Relief Services, Save the Children and ChildFund International.”
Ending hunger has been at the top of international development agendas since the global food price spike in 2008 and the resulting rise in hunger and malnutrition. For the first time, the number of hungry people in the world surpassed one billion, and the world was spurred into action, united by the clear need for not just emergency food aid but for long term solutions to hunger and undernutrition.
The United States answered the challenge at the G-8 Summit in L’Aquila, in 2009 with a $3.5 billion pledge for international agricultural development, which laid the groundwork for Feed the Future, the U.S. government’s global hunger and food security initiative. Following L’Aquila, over 40 nations and international organizations pledged a total of 22 billion dollars to improve global food security.
Ending world hunger requires comprehensive, coordinated action among governments, donors, civil society and the private sector. That is why today’s announcement is so important.
And just as these organizations hold governments accountable, they have agreed to be held accountable for these commitments for their commitments. Starting in 2013, InterAction will report annually on commitments and disbursements at the time of these UN General Assembly meetings.
This commitment complements the work of the U.S. government, multilateral organizations, and the private sector, and represents a continuation of the excellent work civil society partners already do around the world as implementers of development and training programs, as interlocutors who have long-standing relationships with small, difficult to reach communities, and as innovators who can identify needs and improvise technical solutions.
Partners, like the Scaling Up Nutrition Movement and the 1,000 Days Partnership, exemplify our close collaboration with civil society organizations and the private sector. Launched by Secretary during the in 2010 U.N. General Assembly, the 1,000 Days Partnership is helping mobilize governments, civil society and the private sector to promote action to improve nutrition in the first 1,000 days of a child’s life. The partnership helps disseminate research, latest innovations in nutrition and best practices, and thanks to their efforts more and more stakeholders are prioritizing nutrition interventions during the critical 1000 days”when adequate nutrition can have a lifelong impact on the child’s health, ability to grow and learn, and eventually rise out of poverty.
As the Secretary mentioned in her remarks, “Along with the private sector, which is already giving unprecedented support to agriculture…Civil society organizations are crucial to our success, both in the public and private sector; they have long standing relationships in communities and valuable technical expertise, and they work every single day on their commitment to try to make this worlda better place for all of us.”
To take advantage of the wisdom of civil society, we must take Malawian President Joyce Banda’s advice: “Listen.” Listening is the start of true partnership.
We must all—governments, private sector, and civil society—maintain our collective efforts in this fight.
Thanks to our partners, we have made great progress in the last three years since we launched Feed the Future, and we will continue to engage the private sector and civil society to scale up successful, innovative interventions that can advance our goals and help achieve global food security.
This post originally appeared on the U.S. Department of State DipNote blog.