In April, the U.N. Committee on Food Security (CFS) released the Zero Draft of the Principles for Responsible Agricultural Investment (RAI) in the Context of Food Security and Nutrition. The release of the RAI Zero Draft marks an important step in the process toward the adoption of a framework that will guide national regulations, international investment agreements, global corporate social responsibility initiatives, and individual investor contracts covering all types of investment in agriculture.
Greater investment in agriculture is essential for enhancing food security and nutrition, particularly in a global environment faced with dwindling natural resources, increasing populations, and the effects of global climate change. In order for food systems to meet present and future challenges, increased investment in agriculture is required. The RAI will provide a framework to help ensure that investment in agriculture is transparent, responsible, environmentally sustainable, and contributes to inclusive growth and poverty reduction.
The RAI – much like the Voluntary Guidelines for the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries, and Forests in the Context of National Food Security adopted in 2012 – require an inclusive, participatory consultation process to develop a relevant, broadly validated set of principles that can effectively guide laws and policies. The U.S. Government (USG) recognizes the importance of promoting responsible agricultural investment and is supporting the RAI’s inclusive consultation and validation process. The USG, along with representatives from other governments, the private sector and civil society, will be participating in regional multi-stakeholder consultations on the RAI later this year. Input from these regional consultations will be used to inform the next draft of the RAI, due out in early 2014. There will then be negotiations to finalize the draft principles, which will be submitted for endorsement to the CFS in October 2014.
More information was presented at the 2013 World Bank Conference on Land and Poverty in a paper by Christina Blank, Chair of the Open-Ended Working Group and Permanent Representation of Switzerland to FAO, IFAD and WFP.