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Ask G8/G20 to act on commitment to smallholder farmers to address food security and HIV

28. April 2010

    The leaders of the world's most industrialized countries, known as the G8, will gather in Huntsville, Ontario, Canada, from 25-26 June. Further discussions will then be held at the G20 Summit, also in Canada, on 26-27 June. During their annual Summits, G8 and G20 leaders discuss a broad range of issues, such as international development and fiscal and monetary policy and coordination, and make related statements and commitments.

    To mobilize world leaders to include the needs of the majority of the world's population in this year's G8/G20 outcomes, faith leaders also set to meet in Canada in June have released a statement calling on the world's politicians to take "courageous and concrete action" on reducing poverty, addressing climate change and investing in peace.

    As part of these mobilization efforts, the EAA is asking G8/G20 leaders to deliver on their 2009 pledge to provide USD 20 billion to support sustainable agricultural production, with a focus on smallholder farmers. In particular, they must now clearly state how much of the pledged money includes new and additional aid, how it will be channeled and coordinated, when this will happen and how it will translate into sustained, predictable and better targeted investment in smallholder farmers.

    Concrete action to support smallholder farmers is vital not only because it will improve the food security of the poorest people, but also as it will contribute to efforts to achieve Universal Access to HIV prevention, treatment, support and care. This is because food security and HIV are closely interlinked. On the one hand, a lack of nutritious food may hasten progression to AIDS-related illnesses and undermine an individual's response to antiretroviral treatment. On the other hand, HIV infection can undermine food security by reducing work capacity and threatening household livelihoods.

    As the Universal Access target of 2010 - set by the G8 itself in 2005 - is likely to be missed, the EAA is calling upon the G8 and G20 to ensure that efforts to support smallholder farmers and improve food security also boost the effective prevention and treatment of HIV.

    What can you do?

    1. Read and sign on to the EAA letter below to call for accountability and more investment in smallholder agriculture in order to boost food security for all, including people living with HIV. The deadline for signatures is 4 June 2010. Organizational signatures (organization name and the country in which you are based) are preferred. To indicate your support, send an e-mail to: amunzara@e-alliance.ch, copying rfoley@e-alliance.ch or fax: + 41 22 710 2387.

    The EAA will then return you the final letter with all the signatures to send to your country's G8/20 representatives. For organizations in non-G8/20 countries, you are asked to send the letter to the respective embassies in your country, especially the Canadian embassy. Do inform us when you send the letter. If you are based in any of the G8/G20 countries, why not also identify the delegates to the Summits and organize side meetings with them?

    G8 countries are: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. To make up the G20, the G8 are joined by Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, the European Union, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea and Turkey.

    2. Highlight the importance of food security and HIV within other G8/G20 campaigns, including the Interfaith Partnership (www.faithchallengeg8.com) and the 'At the Table' campaign (www.atthetable2010.org)


    Dear [G8/G20 representative's name to be inserted here]

    We are writing to you as people of faith and faith-based organizations committed to working together for a more just, peaceful and sustainable world. As you prepare to meet with other world leaders at the G8/G20 Summits in Canada in June, we join with the Interfaith Partnership1 to urge you to take 'courageous and concrete action' to ensure 'follow-through on past promises'.

    In particular, we ask that you deliver on your 2009 pledge, known as the L'Aquila Food Security initiative2, to invest more in smallholder farmers and in sustainable production to reduce poverty and hunger. This is action that is vitally needed in a world that produces enough food to feed itself but where one in six people still go hungry, 129 million children are underweight and 195 million children are stunted by hunger and malnutrition.

    We believe, however, that concrete action to support smallholder farmers is vital not only because it will improve food security for the world's poorest people, but because it will also contribute to efforts to achieve Universal Access to HIV prevention, treatment and care by 20103 - a goal set by the G8 in 2005 and adopted by all governments in the 2006 UN Political Declaration on HIV and AIDS - but for which implementation is underfunded and off-target.

    In many parts of the world, a lack of food security and poor nutrition are worsening the effects of the HIV epidemic: without access to food either from their own food production or from income earned, people living with HIV are likely to develop AIDS and become sicker quicker, while those on treatment struggle to absorb the medication and may be unable to continue treatment.

    The L'Aquila Food Security initiative, which included a commitment to investing USD 20 billion over three years in sustainable agricultural production, with a focus on smallholder farmers, was a commendable step towards increasing cohesion in policies and funding and mobilizing new political will and resources to fight hunger. It also represented a decisive break from 20 years of underinvestment in agriculture while only channeling increased financing into emergency food aid.

    One year on and conscious that the momentum built by this initiative should not be lost, we urge you to account for the timely delivery of this initiative by drawing up a plan of action for its implementation. Crucially, we urge that the plan:

    • reconfirms the USD 20 billion pledge and clarifies of how much of this money represents new and additional aid
    • includes a clear timetable for the remaining 3-year period of the L'Aquila pledge
    • shows what mechanisms will be used to channel the money and deliver the initiative
    • outlines specific strategies for investing in smallholders farmers, for example, by supporting indigenous knowledge-based agriculture, promoting biodiversity and investing in seed research initiatives
    • specifies how investments will reach and ensure the participation of the poorest smallholder farmers, including women, people living with HIV and the most food insecure
    • integrates support for smallholders with other efforts to respond to HIV and climate change
    • sets out how additional funding will be levied and coordinated with other regional and international initiatives4 to ensure long-term, predictable and sustainable funding for robust, country-led food security plans, in line with the Accra5 agenda on aid effectiveness
    • establishes follow-up mechanisms to show what has already been achieved and what remains to be done

      If the above recommendations are met, we are convinced that world leaders will have moved closer to both safeguarding the right to food for all and enhancing efforts to boost access to HIV prevention, treatment and care.

      Please be assured of our prayers and support as you discuss these issues, act to uphold past commitments and resolve to move forward in addressing food security and HIV for the benefit of the majority of the world's population.

      Yours in faith,

      [supporting organizations' names and countries to be inserted here]

    1 See www.faithchallengeg8.com

    2 www.g8italia2009.it/static/G8_Allegato/LAquila_Joint_Statement_on_Global_Food_Security[1],0.pdf

    3 http://www.g7.utoronto.ca/summit/2005gleneagles/communique.pdf

    4 Such as the new and revitalized UN Food and Agriculture Organization's Committee for Food Security

    5 http://www.undp.org/mdtf/docs/Accra-Agenda-for-Action.pdfwww.undp.org/mdtf/docs/Accra-Agenda-for-Action.pdf

The Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance is a broad international network of churches and Christian organizations cooperating in advocacy on food and HIV and AIDS. The Alliance is based in Geneva, Switzerland. For more information, see http://www.e-alliance.ch/

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