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Special Coverage: 2012 G8 Summit & The Chicago Council Global Agriculture and Food Security Symposium

On May 18, 2012, The Chicago Council on Global Affairs hosted its 3rd Annual Symposium on Global Agriculture and Food Security in Washington, DC, featuring US and African leaders who discussed new G8 efforts on food security and the opportunity and benefits of private sector investment in African agriculture and food sectors. On May 18-19, 2012, the US hosted the food security-focused G8 Summit at Camp David. Resources related to these events are available below.
  The Chicago Council Global Food for Thought Commentaries
  The Chicago Council Outrage and Inspire Blogs - Roger Thurow
  Worldwatch Institute's Nourishing the Planet Blog
  • Photos from The Chicago Council Symposium are available here.
  • Photos from the Camp David G8 Summit are available here.

President Barack Obama at The Chicago Council 2012 Symposium on Global Agriculture & Food Security
May 18, 2012

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you so much. Thank you, everybody. Please, have a seat. Thank you.

Well, good morning, everybody.

AUDIENCE MEMBERS: Good morning, Mr. President.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you, Catherine Bertini and Dan Glickman and everyone at The Chicago Council. We were originally going to convene, along with the G-8, in Chicago, but since we're not doing this in my hometown, I wanted to bring a little bit of Chicago to Washington. (Laughter.) It is wonderful to see all of you. It -- it is great to see quite a few young people here as well. And I want to acknowledge a good friend. We were just talking backstage. He was my inspiration for singing at the Apollo. (Laughter.) Bono is here, and it is good to see him. (Applause.)

Now this weekend at the G-8, we'll be represented by many of the world's largest economies. We face urgent challenges -- creating jobs, addressing the situation in the eurozone, sustaining the global economic recovery.
But even as we deal with these issues, I felt it was also important, also critical to focus on the urgent challenge that confronts some 1 billion men, women and children around the world: the injustice of chronic hunger, the need for long-term food security.

So tomorrow at the G-8, we're going to devote a special session to this challenge. We're launching a major new partnership to reduce hunger and lift tens of millions of people from poverty. And we'll be joined by leaders from across Africa, including the first three nations to undertake this effort and who join us here today.

I want to acknowledge them: Prime Minister Meles of Ethiopia -- (applause) -- President Mills of Ghana -- (applause) -- and President Kikwete of Tanzania. (Applause.) Welcome. I also want to acknowledge President Yayi of Benin, chair of the African Union -- (applause) -- which has shown great leadership in this cause, and two of our leaders in this effort, USAID Administrator -- every time I meet him, I realize that I was an underachiever in my 30s -- (laughter) -- Dr. Raj Shah is here -- (cheers, applause) -- and the CEO of the Millennium Challenge Corporation, Daniel Yohannes.

Now, this partnership is possible because so many leaders in Africa and around the world have made food security a priority.

And that's why shortly after I took office, I called for the international community to do its part.

And at the G-8 meeting three years ago in L'Aquila, in Italy, that's exactly what we did, mobilizing more than $22 billion for a Global Food Security Initiative. After decades in which agriculture and nutrition didn't always get the attention they deserved, we put the fight against global hunger where it should be, which is at the forefront of global development.

And this reflected the new approach to development that I called for when I visited Ghana, hosted by President Mills, and that I unveiled at the last summit on the Millennium Development Goals. It's rooted in our conviction that true development involves not only delivering aid, but also promoting economic growth, broad-based, inclusive growth that actually helps nations develop and lift people out of poverty.

The whole purpose of development is to create the conditions where assistance is no longer needed, where people have the dignity and the pride of being self-sufficient. You see our new approach in our promotion of trade and investment, building on the outstanding work of the African Growth and Opportunity Act. You see it in the Global Partnership to Promote Open Government, which empowers citizens and helps to fuel development and creates the framework, the foundation for economic growth. You see it in the international effort we're leading against corruption, including greater transparency, so taxpayers receive every dollar they're due from the extraction of natural resources.

You see it in our Global Health Initiative, which, instead of just delivering medicine, is also helping to build a stronger health system, delivering better care and saving lives.

And you see our new approach in our food security initiative, Feed the Future. Instead of simply handing out food, we partnered with countries in pursuit of ambitious goals: better nutrition to prevent the stunting and the deaths of millions of children and raising the incomes of millions of people, most of them farmers.

The good news is we're on track to meet our goals. As president, I consider this a moral imperative. 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. So we take pride in the fact that because of smart investments in nutrition and agriculture and safety nets, millions of people in Kenya and Ethiopia did not need emergency aid in the recent drought.

But when tens of thousands of children die from the agony of starvation, as in Somalia, that sends us a message we still got a lot of work to do. It's unacceptable. It's an outrage. It's an affront to who we are.

So food security is a moral imperative, but it's also an economic imperative. History teaches us that one of the most effective ways to pull people and entire nations out of poverty is to invest in their agriculture. And as we've seen from Latin America to Africa to Asia, a growing middle class also means growing markets, including more customers for American exports that support American jobs. So we have a self-interest in this.

It's a moral imperative, it's an economic imperative, and it is a security imperative, for we've seen how spikes in food prices can plunge millions into poverty, which in turn can spark riots that cost lives and can lead to instability.

And this danger will only grow if a surging global population isn't matched by surging food production. So reducing malnutrition around the world advances international peace and security, and that includes the national security of the United States.

Perhaps nowhere do we see this link more vividly than in Africa. On the one hand, we see Africa as an emerging market. African economies are some of the fastest-growing in the world. We see a surge in foreign investment. We see a growing middle class, hundreds of millions of people connected by mobile phones, more young Africans online than ever before. There's -- there's hope and some optimism. And all of this has yielded impressive progress: for the first time ever, a decline in extreme poverty in Africa; an increase in crop yields; a dramatic drop in child deaths. That's the good news. And in part, it's due to some of the work of the people in this room.

On the other hand, we see an Africa that still faces huge hurdles -- stark inequalities, most Africans still living on less than $2 a day, climate change that increases the risk of drought and famine -- all of which perpetuates stubborn barriers in agriculture, in the agricultural sector, from bottlenecks in infrastructure that prevent food from getting to market to the lack of credit, especially for small farmers, most of whom are women.

I've spoken before about relatives I have in Kenya who live in villages where hunger is sometimes a reality.

Despite the fact that African farmers can be some of the hardest- working people on earth, most of the world's unused arable land is in Africa. Fifty years ago Africa was an exporter of food. There is no reason why Africa should not be feeding itself and exporting food again. There is no reason for that. (Applause.)

So that's why we're here. In Africa and around the world, progress isn't coming fast enough. And economic growth can't just be for the lucky few at the top; it's got to be broad-based for everybody. And a good place to start is in the agricultural sector.

So even as the world responds with food aid in a crisis, as we've done in the Horn of Africa, communities can't go back just to the way things were, vulnerable as before, waiting for the next crisis to happen. Development has to be sustainable, and as an international community, we have to do better.

So here at the G-8, we're going to build on the progress we've made so far. Today I can announce a new global effort. We're calling a new alliance for food security and nutrition. And to get the job done, we're bringing together all the key players around a shared commitment. Let me describe it.

Governments, like those in Africa, that are committed to agricultural development and food security -- they agree to take the lead, building on their own plans by making tough reforms and attracting investment.

Donor countries, including G-8 members and international organizations, agree to more closely align our assistance with these country plans. And the private sector, from large multinationals to small African cooperatives, your NGOs and civil society groups, agree to make concrete and continuing commitments as well, so that there's an alignment between all these sectors.

And I know some have asked, in a time of austerity, whether this new alliance is just a way for governments to shift the burden onto somebody else. I want to be clear: The answer is no. As president, I can assure you that the United States will continue to meet our responsibilities so that even in these tough fiscal times, we will continue to make historic investments in development.

And by the way, we're going to be working to end hunger right here in the United States as well. (Applause.) That's -- that will continue to be a priority.

We'll continue to be the leader in times of crisis, as we've done as the single largest donor of aid in the Horn of Africa and as we focus on the drought in the Sahel. That's why I propose to continue increasing funds for food security. (Applause.)

So -- so I want to be clear. The United States will remain a global leader in development in partnership with you, and we will continue to make available food -- or emergency aid; that will not change. But what we do want to partner with you on is a strategy so that emergency aid becomes less and less relevant as a consequence of greater and greater sustainability within these (own ?) countries.

That's how development is supposed to work. That's what I mean by a new approach that challenges more nations, more organizations, more companies, more NGOs, challenges individuals, some of the young people who are here to step up and play a role, because government cannot and should not do this alone. This has to be all hands on deck. And that's the essence of this new alliance.

So G-8 nations will pledge to honor the commitments we made in L'Aquila. We must do what we say; no empty promises. And at the same time, we'll deliver the assistance to launch this new effort. Moreover, we're committing to replenish the very successful global agricultural and food security program. (Applause.) That's an important part of this overall effort.

Next we're going to mobilize more private capital. Today I can announce that 45 companies, from major international corporations to African companies and cooperatives, have pledged to invest more than $3 billion to kick off this effort. (Applause.) And we're also going to fast-track new agricultural projects so they reach those in need even quicker.

Third, we're going to speed up the development and delivery of innovation: better seeds, better storage that unleash huge leaps in food production. And we're going to tap that mobile phone revolution in Africa so that more data on agriculture, whether it's satellite imagery or weather forecasts or market prices, are put in the hands of farmers so they know where to plant and when to plant and when to sell.

Fourth, we're joining with the World Bank and other partners to better understand and manage the risks that come with changing food prices and a changing climate, because a change in prices or a single bad season should not plunge a family, a community or a region into crisis.

And finally, we're going to keep focusing on nutrition, especially for young children, because we know the effects of poor nutrition can last a lifetime. It's harder to learn. It's harder to earn a living.

When there's good nutrition, especially in those thousand days during pregnancy up to the child's second birthday, it means healthier lives for that child and that mother. And it's the smart thing to do, because better nutrition means lower health care costs, and it means less need for assistance later on.

That's what we're going to do. We're going to sustain the commitments we made three years ago, and we're going to speed things up. And we're starting with these three countries, Tanzania, Ghana and Ethiopia, precisely because of their record in improving agriculture and food security.

But this is just the beginning. In the coming months, we'll expand to six countries. We'll welcome other countries that are committed to making tough reforms. We'll welcome more companies that are willing to invest. We're going to hold ourselves accountable. We'll measure results.

And we'll stay focused on clear goals: boosting farmers' incomes and over the next decade helping 50 million men, women and children lift themselves out of poverty. (Applause.)

I know there are going to be skeptics.

There always are. We see heartbreaking images, deals turn to dust, babies with extended bellies. And we say it's hopeless; some places are condemned to perpetual poverty and hunger.

But the people in this room disagree. I think most of the American people disagree. Anyone who claims great change is impossible, I say look at the extraordinary successes in development. Look at the Green Revolution, which pulled hundreds of millions out of poverty. (Applause.) Look at microfinance, which has empowered so many rural poor, something my mother was involved with. Look at the huge expansion of education, especially for girls. Look at the progress we've made with vaccines, from smallpox to measles to pneumonia to diarrhea, which have saved the lives of hundreds of millions. And of course, look at the global fight against HIV/AIDS, which has brought us to the point where we can imagine what was once unthinkable, and that is the real possibility of an AIDS-free generation. (Applause.)

Moreover, we are already making progress in this area right now. In Rwanda, farmers are selling more coffee and lifting their families out of poverty. In Haiti, some farmers have more than doubled their yields. Bangladesh, in the poorest region -- they've had their first- ever surplus of rice. Millions or farmers and families whose lives are being transformed right now because of some of the strategies that we're talking about.

That includes a farmer in Ethiopia who got a new loan, increased production, hired more workers. And he said, "This salary changed my life; my kids can now go to school." And we started getting the wheel turning in the direction of progress.

We can do this. We're already doing it. We just need to bring it all together. We can unleash the change that reduces hanger and malnutrition. We can spark the kind of economic growth that lifts people and nations out of poverty. This is the new commitment that we're making, and I pledge to you today that this will remain a priority as long as I am the United States president.

Thank you very much. (Applause.) God bless you. Thank you. God bless America.



Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at The Chicago Council 2012 Symposium on Global Agriculture & Food Security
May 18, 2012

Oh, thank you all. Thank you. Thank you. Well, that was really a wonderful introduction from someone who I’ve had the great pleasure of working with on a number of important issues and am delighted to be working so closely with Senator Lindsey Graham again, as he is the ranking member on the Foreign Operations Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee. And I’m so appreciative of his strong support of America’s development and diplomatic efforts around the world. We promised him that we would seize and erase all tapes of what he has just said. (Laughter.) So don’t take it personally, any of you in the press, but this is to protect him going forward. (Laughter.)

Well, this has been an amazing day, and I’m all that stands between you and getting out into this absolutely beautiful afternoon and enjoying some of the sights that Washington has to offer. But I wanted to come to close out the formal part of the program to express great appreciation, first and foremost, to the Chicago Council – in particular, Catherine Bertini and Dan Glickman for bringing us all together today to our very special guests, the heads of state and government from Tanzania, Benin, Ethiopia and Ghana, and to tell you how exciting it is that we have this partnership at the highest levels with the countries that you represent here at this conference and for the months and years ahead. I also want to thank Raj Shah and his great colleagues at USAID. Raj has led a tireless effort on behalf of advancing food security worldwide along with the wonderful help of people not only here in Washington but in our posts and missions across the globe.

Thanks to our G-8 partners. I see representatives from the G-8 countries here. Thank you for your commitment to food security, for the great work that started in L’Aquila and has continued forward to here in Washington. And thanks to all of you in the private sector, in the not-for-profit sector, in the academic world, in the faith community, in the agricultural productivity and research world. Thank you all.

And this has been a real diverse conference. Not only heads of state and government and foreign ministers and aid workers and health experts and businessmen and women, but we had at least one rock star. I have it on very good authority. (Laughter.) And although we hail from different regions and hold different points of view, as Senator Graham said about his and my perspectives, on this we all agree – the need to drastically decrease hunger and poverty worldwide. And strengthening global agriculture is a powerful way to do that.

Now it wasn’t long ago that a symposium on food security would have drawn a very different crowd, because for years, passionate and persistent advocates made the case that this issue needed to be on the development agenda of every nation. Well, the United States listened, the G-8 countries listened, and now it’s a signature issue. Billions of dollars have been pledged by the world’s largest economies, and those pledges are being met. The G-20 has embraced this mission. So has the World Bank and the African Union. And 30 African nations are creating national agricultural investment plans and revising their budgets to make agriculture a leading priority.

Now in the United States, we’ve created our own global food security initiative, and as you were able to hear directly from President Obama earlier today, Feed the Future is at the forefront of our global development agenda. Now we took on food security right out of the box in this Administration because the facts were so compelling. Yes, it’s a complex, far-reaching issue, but it comes down to a couple of very key facts – nearly a billion people worldwide suffering from chronic hunger; by the year 2050, the global population will climb to 9 billion, and the world will need to produce 70 percent more food than we do today just to feed everyone; 75 percent of the world’s poor live in rural settings and depend on agriculture for their livelihoods.

Now there are many other facts, but I think these three are sufficient not only to make the case, but to add up to a tremendous opportunity, because if we can help the rural poor produce more food and sell it in thriving local and regional markets as well as on the global market, we can decrease chronic hunger today, we can build an ample food supply for tomorrow, we can drive economic growth in places where poverty is persistent, and we can have better futures for men, women, and children.

Now I think what we are seeking to do through our investments in global agriculture is not just to solve the problem of hunger, we also want to solve the problem of extreme poverty. And agriculture, in our opinion, may be the best intervention point to do that. Development dollars spent on agriculture have the greatest impact on poverty reduction, more than money spent in any other sector. So if we want to make big gains in the fight against poverty, agriculture is the best way to do that.

And there is no place that that is more true than in Africa, where there is such great potential for gains in agricultural productivity. So together, African governments, donors, international organizations, the private sector, and civil society can close the productivity gap and feed many more people.

Now having said that agriculture development can deliver strong results, I have to admit the goals we have set for ourselves are very ambitious. They need to be. The countries that we are supporting are trying to transform how people farm, what people eat, how crops are stored and sold, and that is not easy. Some of the changes they seek will take years, perhaps even generations, to lock into place. So we need to have the foresight and to stay committed to this mission.

Many worthy ideas have been shared here today about what should come next in the global fight for food security. And I want to emphasize three issues that I believe deserve our particular attention. All three are areas in which progress is both urgently needed and well within our reach. And all are priorities of the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition that President Obama announced this morning.

The first is a centerpiece of this symposium: partnering with the private sector. As President Obama said earlier, the New Alliance includes a major push to mobilize more private sector investment and involvement. Now part of the reason for that is simple math. Consider the 30 African countries that have created or are now creating comprehensive national agriculture investment plans. When we look at their own spending, even in those countries that have met the goal of allocating 10 percent of their national budget to agriculture, and then when we add to that the pledged support from development partners like the members of the G-8, a significant gap still remains because governments alone cannot supply all the investment needed to transform agriculture. We need the private sector.

Now that’s not only true only of agriculture. Private investment has become invaluable to development across the board. In the 1960s, official development assistance from governments and multilateral organizations accounted for 70 percent of capital flows going into developing countries. But today that number has fallen to just 13 percent. And that’s not because public assistance has gone down; it’s because private investment has skyrocketed. Now we need to drive more of that investment toward agricultural growth.

And beyond investment, the private sector has a great deal to offer in terms of skills and expertise. Whether it’s improving the supply chain so fewer crops are spoiled on their way to market, as Premium Foods is doing in Ghana; or training growers in certified seed production, like Tanseed is doing in Tanzania; or expanding the production and processing of highly nutritional foods like chickpeas and soybeans, as Guts Agro Industry is in Ethiopia, businesses often know how to do important things better and more cost effectively than anyone else.

African countries are taking the lead on cultivating private sector involvement. They are reforming their policies to make their economies and agricultural sectors more attractive for both domestic and international investment and private sector activity. Their partners can support this by launching our own innovative collaborations with businesses, both local and international.

Now, I do realize that not everyone welcomes wholeheartedly the notion of more private sector involvement. And let me be clear that while global corporations play an irreplaceable role, we want them to prosper alongside local business, not at their expense. Private sector activity must start with the smallholder farmers whose future prosperity is the focal point of all our efforts, and then expand outward from there.

Furthermore, I know that some worry that by asking the private sector to step up, governments are hoping that gives us the excuse to scale back. Well, I want to say as clearly as I can that the United States is in this for the long run. And we ask others to hold us accountable as we will do the same in turn. And we believe accountability must apply to our private sector partners as well. But private sector activity is the only lasting basis for self-sustaining economic growth. And ultimately, after all, isn’t that our goal?

The second topic I want to emphasize is nutrition. In recent years, we have learned that improving access to food does not automatically lead to improved nutrition. Neither does raising incomes nor creating new markets. What leads to improved nutrition is focusing on nutrition itself and integrating it into all our food security initiatives.

Nutrition is just too important to be treated as an afterthought. Children’s entire lives are shaped by whether they receive enough of the right nutrients during those crucial 1,000 days from pregnancy to second birthdays. And this, in turn, heavily influences whether a country will have a healthy and educated workforce. So when we overlook nutrition, we set ourselves up for a less healthy, less productive, less prosperous future.

Two years ago, during the annual meeting of the UN General Assembly, I joined international leaders, including Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, the foreign minister of Ireland and others, in announcing the “1,000 Days” partnership in support of the Scaling Up Nutrition movement known as SUN. That was the first time foreign ministers had gathered to focus squarely on nutrition as a critical development priority. And since then, a growing number of countries have committed to improving nutrition. Twenty-seven countries have committed to taking action through the SUN movement, and I urge more countries to join because we have proven solutions to the problem of under- and mal-nutrition

And let me also say that under-nutrition is not just a problem facing only developing countries. We’re struggling with it in the United States, and we have plenty of food. But many people, including far too many children, are not eating nutritious foods. They’re eating, but they’re not eating in a way that improves and sustains their health, and they are increasingly facing serious health problems.

In Chicago on Monday, while the NATO summit is underway, there will be a “1,000 Days Summit” to focus on the problem of child under-nutrition, not only abroad but here at home in cities like Chicago. Mayor Rahm Emanuel is taking on the so-called “food deserts” as a public health priority, because this problem of under-nutrition cuts across all borders and all incomes.

The United States has a set an ambitious nutrition target within Feed the Future. We aim to reach 7 million children within five years to prevent stunting and to increase child survival. I think we have the capacity to reach even more, and if we all work together we can set a global target.

The third issue I want to emphasize is gender equality. I’m sure it’s no surprise to anyone that I am convinced women are critical to our success in every field of endeavor. And this is not a matter of sentiment or personal interest on my part. This is also actually a fact-based, evidence-based statement. It has been said that – (applause) – the modern face of hunger is often a woman’s face, because in many parts of the world, women still eat last and eat least.

The face of a farmer is often a woman’s face as well. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, women comprise nearly half of the agricultural workforce across Africa. So if we want to support farmers, we also have to support women farmers. And that is not something that happens automatically. It has to be part of a deliberate, determined strategy that takes gender equality into account across everything we are doing.

And the results speak for themselves. The FAO estimates that if women farmers had the same access to productive resources as men – seeds, credit, insurance, land title, and so on – they could increase yields on their farms by 20 to 30 percent. And that, in turn, could raise total agricultural output so much it could reduce the number of hungry people worldwide by up to 150 million.

Now the obstacles that stand in the way of women’s equal access to resources in agriculture or anything else are, unfortunately, formidable. They include laws, deeply held traditions, lack of information, plain old inertia, and we have to overcome each and every one of them. We can’t just hope that women get the support they need as a side effect of our work. We have to push for it. And it’s not optional. It’s not marginal. It’s not a luxury. It’s not expendable. It happens to be essential, or we will never reach our goals.

The United States has integrated gender equality throughout Feed the Future, and we will do the same with the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition. We’ve created new tools like the Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index to measure our impact. And we look to our partners to help us in this broader effort. When we liberate the economic potential of women, we elevate the economic performance of communities, nations, and the world.

So the work we’re talking about today will require all of us to change how we do business. Now that’s not always easy. I’ve seen that firsthand at the State Department and USAID. To give you just one example, I instructed our ambassadors in many parts of the world to take on agricultural issues, not something that our typical ambassadors know a great deal about, but they’ve educated themselves about land reform and export bans and fertilizer subsidies. And they’ve gone out and worked closely with our partners to help them achieve their goals.

No institution is easy to change. Some of you know that all too well. But the State Department and USAID have changed for this issue because we are so convinced of its overall importance. And we will all have to change and change again to keep moving forward. But if we continue to align our investments and resources, find opportunities for partnership, share news of our progress, and share the lessons from our mistakes, and hold each other accountable, I absolutely believe we will succeed in significantly decreasing hunger and poverty worldwide.

In the past three and a half years that I have been privileged to serve as Secretary of State, I’ve traveled to nearly a hundred countries. And in many, I’ve met with farmers and agricultural scientists, policymakers, nutrition experts, and of all I have seen and all the people I have met, my hope and commitment has only been deepened. There is a sense of anticipation that we can move ahead. Not since the Green Revolution has there been this level of focus by the world on this problem. And we also are heartened by the real progress that we see already underway.

When I was in Tanzania last year, I visited a women’s farm cooperative with the prime minister. And the farm receives funding from USAID. The women there are raising vegetables – peppers and leafy greens mostly. But they didn’t have a market nearby where they could sell their excess crops. So they started one. And then they built cooling huts. And even though their vegetables are high-value, the women don’t sell all of them; they save them for themselves and their children because they have been made aware of how rich they are nutrients, especially for growing children. They were so eager to show me their crops, their drip irrigation system, their greenhouse. They know they are contributing to something of great importance – not only better lives for their own children, but a better future for their country.

So to anyone who wonders whether progress is possible, go visit women like the ones I met in Tanzania. Go visit the scientists in India who are carrying on the tradition of the Green Revolution by developing drought-tolerant and disease-resistant seeds. Go visit their counterparts in Kenya, who are working in their labs and greenhouses to create a green revolution in Africa. Look at the school lunch program in Brazil, which provides nutritious food every day to every Brazilian child, all grown by smallholder farmers. Look at the policy makers in Indonesia who had the foresight to make a substantial investment in nutrition as a strategy for economic growth. Look at the farmers, the entrepreneurs, the activists, the political leaders, the teachers, the parents who are devoting themselves to making their communities healthier, more just, and more prosperous.

These are the people who are on the frontlines of progress. Our place is standing right behind them, giving them the support they need to succeed. And I am very proud to be part of this movement, because indeed that’s what it is, and to work with each and every one of you and countless others like you who sign on to this movement’s mission. I am absolutely convinced we can not only keep the progress going, we can show results that will just surprise people everywhere and give hope to those who will never know our names, will never understand what we were doing here in Washington, but whose lives will be so much better because we made this commitment together.

Thank you all very much. (Applause.)


Camp David Declaration
May 18-19, 2012


1. We, the Leaders of the Group of Eight, met at Camp David on May 18 and 19, 2012 to address major global economic and political challenges.

The Global Economy

2. Our imperative is to promote growth and jobs. 

3. The global economic recovery shows signs of promise, but significant headwinds persist.

4. Against this background, we commit to take all necessary steps to strengthen and reinvigorate our economies and combat financial stresses, recognizing that the right measures are not the same for each of us.

5. We welcome the ongoing discussion in Europe on how to generate growth, while maintaining a firm commitment to implement fiscal consolidation to be assessed on a structural basis. We agree on the importance of a strong and cohesive Eurozone for global stability and recovery, and we affirm our interest in Greece remaining in the Eurozone while respecting its commitments.  We all have an interest in the success of specific measures to strengthen the resilience of the Eurozone and growth in Europe.  We support Euro Area Leaders’ resolve to address the strains in the Eurozone in a credible and timely manner and in a manner that fosters confidence, stability and growth.

6. We agree that all of our governments need to take actions to boost confidence and nurture recovery including reforms to raise productivity, growth and demand within a sustainable, credible and non-inflationary macroeconomic framework. We commit to fiscal responsibility and, in this context, we support sound and sustainable fiscal consolidation policies that take into account countries’ evolving economic conditions and underpin confidence and economic recovery.

7. To raise productivity and growth potential in our economies, we support structural reforms, and investments in education and in modern infrastructure, as appropriate. Investment initiatives can be financed using a range of mechanisms, including leveraging the private sector.  Sound financial measures, to which we are committed, should build stronger systems over time while not choking off near-term credit growth.  We commit to promote investment to underpin demand, including support for small businesses and public-private partnerships.

8. Robust international trade, investment and market integration are key drivers of strong sustainable and balanced growth.  We underscore the importance of open markets and a fair, strong, rules-based trading system. We will honor our commitment to refrain from protectionist measures, protect investments and pursue bilateral, plurilateral, and multilateral efforts, consistent with and supportive of the WTO framework, to reduce barriers to trade and investment and maintain open markets.  We call on the broader international community to do likewise.  Recognizing that unnecessary differences and overly burdensome regulatory standards serve as significant barriers to trade, we support efforts towards regulatory coherence and better alignment of standards to further promote trade and growth.

9. Given the importance of intellectual property rights (IPR) to stimulating job and economic growth, we affirm the significance of high standards for IPR protection and enforcement, including through international legal instruments and mutual assistance agreements, as well as through government procurement processes, private-sector voluntary codes of best practices, and enhanced customs cooperation, while promoting the free flow of information. To protect public health and consumer safety, we also commit to exchange information on rogue internet pharmacy sites in accordance with national law and share best practices on combating counterfeit medical products.  

Energy and Climate Change

10. As our economies grow, we recognize the importance of meeting our energy needs from a wide variety of sources ranging from traditional fuels to renewables to other clean technologies.  As we each implement our own individual energy strategies, we embrace the pursuit of an appropriate mix from all of the above in an environmentally safe, sustainable, secure, and affordable manner. We also recognize the importance of pursuing and promoting sustainable energy and low carbon policies in order to tackle the global challenge of climate change.  To facilitate the trade of energy around the world, we commit to take further steps to remove obstacles to the evolution of global energy infrastructure; to reduce barriers and refrain from discriminatory measures that impede market access; and to pursue universal access to cleaner, safer, and more affordable energy.  We remain committed to the principles on global energy security adopted by the G-8 in St. Petersburg. 

11. As we pursue energy security, we will do so with renewed focus on safety and sustainability.   We are committed to establishing and sharing best practices on energy production, including exploration in frontier areas and the use of technologies such as deep water drilling and hydraulic fracturing, where allowed, to allow for the safe development of energy sources, taking into account environmental concerns over the life of a field.  In light of the nuclear accident triggered by the tsunami in Japan, we continue to strongly support initiatives to carry out comprehensive risk and safety assessments of existing nuclear installations and to strengthen the implementation of relevant conventions to aim for high levels of nuclear safety. 

12. We recognize that increasing energy efficiency and reliance on renewables and other clean energy technologies can contribute significantly to energy security and savings, while also addressing climate change and promoting sustainable economic growth and innovation.  We welcome sustained, cost-effective policies to support reliable renewable energy sources and their market integration.  We commit to advance appliance and equipment efficiency, including through comparable and transparent testing procedures, and to promote industrial and building efficiency through energy management systems. 

13. We agree to continue our efforts to address climate change and recognize the need for increased mitigation ambition in the period to 2020, with a view to doing our part to limit effectively the increase in global temperature below 2ºC above pre-industrial levels, consistent with science.  We strongly support the outcome of the 17th Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Durban to implement the Cancun agreements and the launch of the Durban Platform, which we welcome as a significant breakthrough toward the adoption by 2015 of a protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force applicable to all Parties, developed and developing countries alike. We agree to continue to work together in the UNFCCC and other fora, including through the Major Economies Forum, toward a positive outcome at Doha.  

14. Recognizing the impact of short-lived climate pollutants on near-term climate change, agricultural productivity, and human health, we support, as a means of promoting increased ambition and complementary to other CO2 and GHG emission reduction efforts, comprehensive actions to reduce these pollutants, which, according to UNEP and others, account for over thirty percent of near-term global warming as well as 2 million premature deaths a year.  Therefore, we agree to join the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-lived Climate Pollutants. 

15. In addition, we strongly support efforts to rationalize and phase-out over the medium term inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption, and to continue voluntary reporting on progress.

Food Security and Nutrition

16. For over a decade, the G-8 has engaged with African partners to address the challenges and opportunities afforded by Africa’s quest for inclusive and sustainable development.  Our progress has been measurable, and together we have changed the lives of hundreds of millions of people.  International assistance alone, however, cannot fulfill our shared objectives.  As we move forward, and even as we recommit to working together to reduce poverty, we recognize that our task is also to foster the change that can end it, by investing in Africa’s growth, its expanding role in the global economy, and its success.  As part of that effort, we commit to fulfill outstanding L’Aquila financial pledges, seek to maintain strong support to address current and future global food security challenges, including through bilateral and multilateral assistance, and agree to take new steps to accelerate  progress towards food security and nutrition in Africa and globally, on a complementary basis. 

17. Since the L’Aquila Summit, we have seen an increased level of commitment to global food security, realignment of assistance in support of country-led plans, and new investments and greater collaboration in agricultural research.  We commend our African partners for the progress made since L’Aquila, consistent with the Maputo Declaration, to increase public investments in agriculture and to adopt the governance and policy reforms necessary to accelerate sustainable agricultural productivity growth, attain greater gains in nutrition, and unlock sustainable and inclusive country-led growth.  The leadership of the African Union and the role of its Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP) have been essential.   

18. Building on this progress, and working with our African and other international partners, today we commit to launch a New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition to accelerate the flow of private capital to African agriculture, take to scale new technologies and other innovations that can increase sustainable agricultural productivity, and reduce the risk borne by vulnerable economies and communities.  This New Alliance will lift 50 million people out of poverty over the next decade, and be guided by a collective commitment to invest in credible, comprehensive and country-owned plans, develop new tools to mobilize private capital, spur and scale innovation, and manage risk; and engage and leverage the capacity of private sector partners – from women and smallholder farmers, entrepreneurs to domestic and international companies.

19. The G-8 reaffirms its commitment to the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people, and recognizes the vital role of official development assistance in poverty alleviation and achieving the Millennium Development Goals.  As such, we welcome and endorse the Camp David Accountability Report which records the important progress that the G-8 has made on food security consistent with commitments made at the L’Aquila Summit, and in meeting our commitments on global health, including the Muskoka initiative on maternal, newborn and child health.  We remain strongly committed to reporting transparently and consistently on the implementation of these commitments.  We look forward to a comprehensive report under the UK Presidency in 2013.

Afghanistan’s Economic Transition

20. We reaffirm our commitment to a sovereign, peaceful, and stable Afghanistan, with full ownership of its own security, governance and development and free of terrorism, extremist violence, and illicit drug production and trafficking.  We will continue to support the transition process with close coordination of our security, political and economic strategies.

21. With an emphasis on mutual accountability and improved governance, building on the Kabul Process and Bonn Conference outcomes, our countries will take steps to mitigate the economic impact of the transition period and support the development of a sustainable Afghan economy by enhancing Afghan capacity to increase fiscal revenues and improve spending management, as well as mobilizing non-security assistance into the transformation decade. 

22. We will support the growth of Afghan civil society and will mobilize private sector support by strengthening the enabling environment and expanding business opportunities in key sectors, as well as promote regional economic cooperation to enhance connectivity. 

23. We will also continue to support the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in its efforts to meet its obligation to protect and promote human rights and fundamental freedoms, including in the rights of women and girls and the freedom to practice religion.

24. We look forward to the upcoming Tokyo Conference in July, as it generates further long-term support for civilian assistance to Afghanistan from G-8 members and other donors into the transformation decade; agrees to a strategy for Afghanistan’s sustainable economic development, with mutual commitments and benchmarks between Afghanistan and the international community; and provides a mechanism for biennial reviews of progress being made against those benchmarks through the transformation decade. 

The Transitions in the Middle East and North Africa

26. A year after the historic events across the Middle East and North Africa began to unfold, the aspirations of people of the region for freedom, human rights, democracy, job opportunities, empowerment and dignity are undiminished. We recognize important progress in a number of countries to respond to these aspirations and urge continued progress to implement promised reforms.  Strong and inclusive economic growth, with a thriving private sector to provide jobs, is an essential foundation for democratic and participatory government based on the rule of law and respect for basic freedoms, including respect for the rights of women and girls and the right to practice religious faith in safety and security.

27. We renew our commitment to the Deauville Partnership with Arab Countries in Transition, launched at the G-8 Summit last May. We welcome the steps already taken, in partnership with others in the region, to support economic reform, open government, and trade, investment and integration. 

28. We note in particular the steps being taken to expand the mandate of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to bring its expertise in transition economies and financing support for private sector growth to this region; the platform established by international financial institutions to enhance coordination and identify opportunities to work together to support the transition country reform efforts; progress in conjunction with regional partners toward establishing a new transition fund to support country-owned policy reforms complementary to existing mechanisms; increased financial commitments to reforming countries from international and regional financial institutions, the G-8 and regional partners; strategies to increase access to capital  markets to help boost private investment; and commitments from our countries and others to support small and medium-sized enterprises, provide needed training and technical assistance and facilitate international exchanges and training programs for key constituencies in transition countries.

 29. Responding to the call from partner countries, we endorse an asset recovery action plan to promote the return of stolen assets and welcome, and commit to support the action plans developed through the Partnership to promote open government, reduce corruption, strengthen accountability and improve the regulatory environment, particularly for the growth of small- and medium-sized enterprises.  These governance reforms will foster the inclusive economic growth, rule of law and job creation needed for the success of democratic transition. We are working with Partnership countries to build deeper trade and investment ties, across the region and with members of the G-8, which are critical to support growth and job creation.  In this context, we welcome Partnership countries’ statement on openness to international investment. 

30. G-8 members are committed to an enduring and productive partnership that supports the historic transformation underway in the region.  We commit to further work during the rest of 2012 to support private sector engagement, asset recovery, closer trade ties and provision of needed expertise as well as assistance, including through a transition fund.  We call for a meeting in September of Foreign Ministers to review progress being made under the Partnership. 

Political and Security Issues

31. We remain appalled by the loss of life, humanitarian crisis, and serious and widespread human rights abuses in Syria.  The Syrian government and all parties must immediately and fully adhere to commitments to implement the six-point plan of UN and Arab League Joint Special Envoy (JSE) Kofi Annan, including immediately ceasing all violence so as to enable a Syrian-led, inclusive political transition leading to a democratic, plural political system.  We support the efforts of JSE Annan and look forward to seeing his evaluation, during his forthcoming report to the UN Security Council, of the prospects for beginning this political transition process in the near-term.  Use of force endangering the lives of civilians must cease.  We call on the Syrian government to grant safe and unhindered access of humanitarian personnel to populations in need of assistance in accordance with international law.  We welcome the deployment of the UN Supervision Mission in Syria, and urge all parties, in particular the Syrian government, to fully cooperate with the mission.  We strongly condemn recent terrorist attacks in Syria. We remain deeply concerned about the threat to regional peace and security and humanitarian despair caused by the crisis and remain resolved to consider further UN measures as appropriate.

32. We remain united in our grave concern over Iran’s nuclear program. We call on Iran to comply with all of its obligations under relevant UNSC resolutions and requirements of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) Board of Governors. We also call on Iran to continuously comply with its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, including its safeguards obligations.  We also call on Iran to address without delay all outstanding issues related to its nuclear program, including questions concerning possible military dimensions.  We desire a peaceful and negotiated solution to concerns over Iran’s nuclear program, and therefore remain committed to a dual-track approach.   We welcome the resumption of talks between Iran and the E3+3 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union High Representative).  We call on Iran to seize the opportunity that began in Istanbul, and sustain this opening in Baghdad by engaging in detailed discussions about near-term, concrete steps that can, through a step-by-step approach based on reciprocity, lead towards a comprehensive negotiated solution which restores international confidence that Iran’s nuclear program is exclusively peaceful.  We urge Iran to also comply with international obligations to uphold human rights and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of religion, and end interference with the media, arbitrary executions, torture, and other restrictions placed on rights and freedoms.

33. We continue to have deep concerns about provocative actions of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) that threaten regional stability.  We remain concerned about the DPRK's nuclear program, including its uranium enrichment program.  We condemn the April 13, 2012, launch that used ballistic missile technology in direct violation of UNSC resolution. We urge the DPRK to comply with its international obligations and abandon all nuclear and ballistic missile programs in a complete, verifiable, and irreversible manner.  We call on all UN member states to join the G-8 in fully implementing the UNSC resolutions in this regard.  We affirm our will to call on the UN Security Council to take action, in response to additional DPRK acts, including ballistic missile launches and nuclear tests.  We remain concerned about human rights violations in the DPRK, including the situation of political prisoners and the abductions issue.

34. We recognize that according women full and equal rights and opportunities is crucial for all countries’ political stability, democratic governance, and economic growth.  We reaffirm our commitment to advance human rights of and opportunities for women, leading to more development, poverty reduction, conflict prevention and resolution, and improved maternal health and reduced child mortality.  We also commit to supporting the right of all people, including women, to freedom of religion in safety and security. We are concerned about the reduction of women’s political participation and the placing at risk of their human rights and fundamental freedoms, including in Middle East and North Africa countries emerging from conflict or undergoing political transitions.  We condemn and avow to stop violence directed against, including the trafficking of, women and girls.  We call upon all states to protect human rights of women and to promote women’s roles in economic development and in strengthening international peace and security.

35. We pay tribute to the remarkable efforts of President Thein Sein, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, and many other citizens of Burma/Myanmar to deliver democratic reform in their country over the past year.  We recognize the need to secure lasting and irreversible reform, and pledge our support to existing initiatives, particularly those which focus on peace in ethnic area, national reconciliation, and entrenching democracy.  We also stress the need to cooperate to further enhance aid coordination among international development partners of Burma/Myanmar and conduct investment in a manner beneficial to the people of Burma/Myanmar.

36. We recognize the particular sacrifices made by the Libyan people in their transition to create a peaceful, democratic, and stable Libya.  The international community remains committed to actively support the consolidation of the new Libyan institutions.

37. We condemn transnational organized crime and terrorism in all forms and manifestations.  We pledge to enhance our cooperation to combat threats of terrorism and terrorist groups, including al-Qa’ida, its affiliates and adherents, and transnational organized crime, including individuals and groups engaged in illicit drug trafficking and production.  We stress that it is critical to strengthen efforts to curb illicit trafficking in arms in the Sahel area, in particular to eliminate the Man-Portable Air Defense Systems proliferated across the region; to counter financing of terrorism, including kidnapping for ransom; and to eliminate support for terrorist organizations and criminal networks. We urge states to develop necessary capacities including in governance, education, and criminal justice systems, to address, reduce and undercut terrorist and criminal threats, including "lone wolf" terrorists and violent extremism, while safeguarding human rights and upholding the rule of law. We underscore the central role of the United Nations and welcome the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) and efforts of the Roma-Lyon Group in countering terrorism.  We reaffirm the need to strengthen the implementation of the UN Al-Qaida sanctions regime, and the integrity and implementation of the UN conventions on drug control and transnational organized crime.

38. We reaffirm that nonproliferation and disarmament issues are among our top priorities. We remain committed to fulfill all of our obligations under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and, concerned about the severe proliferation challenges, call on all parties to support and promote global nonproliferation and disarmament efforts.

39. We welcome and fully endorse the G-8 Foreign Ministers Meeting Chair’s Statement with accompanying annex.


40. We look forward to meeting under the presidency of the United Kingdom in 2013.


White House Fact Sheet: G-8 Action on Food Security and Nutrition

At the Camp David Summit, G-8 and African leaders will commit to the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, the next phase of our shared commitment to achieving global food security.  In partnership with Africa’s people and leaders, our goals are to increase responsible domestic and foreign private investments in African agriculture, take innovations that can enhance agricultural productivity to scale, and reduce the risk borne by vulnerable economies and communities.  We recognize and will act upon the critical role played by smallholder farmers, especially women, in transforming agriculture and building thriving economies.

The New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition is a shared commitment to achieve sustained and 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 G-8 to expand Africa’s potential for rapid and sustainable agricultural growth. 

We welcome the support of the World Bank and African Development Bank, and of the United Nations’ World Food Program, International Fund for Agricultural Development, and Food and Agriculture Organization for the New Alliance.  We also welcome the successful conclusion of the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the context of National Food Security and support the broad-based consultation process and pilot use of the Principles of Responsible Agricultural Investment. 

The New Alliance Will Build on and Help Realize the Promise of L’Aquila

Since the L’Aquila Summit, where we committed to “act with the scale and urgency needed to achieve sustainable global food security,” we have increased our bilateral and multilateral investments in food security and changed the way we do business, consistent with core principles of aid effectiveness.  Based on the findings of the 2012 G-8 Accountability Report and consistent with the Rome Principles on Sustainable Global Food Security, the G-8 will agree to:

  •  Promptly fulfill outstanding L’Aquila financial pledges and seek to maintain strong support to address current and future global food security challenges, including through bilateral and multilateral assistance;
  • Ensure that our assistance is directly aligned behind country plans; 
  • Strengthen the coordination of G-8 strategies, assistance and programs in-country and with partner countries to increase efficiencies, reduce transaction burdens, and eliminate redundancies and gaps.

 The New Alliance will be rooted in partnership

To accelerate national progress in African partner countries, the G-8 will launch New Alliance Cooperation Frameworks that align with priority activities within each partner’s Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) national investment plan and include predictable funding commitments, specific policy actions, and statements of intent from the private sector. 

The G-8 will partner with the African Union, New Partnership for Africa's Development and CAADP to implement the New Alliance, and leverage in particular the Grow Africa Partnership, in order to ensure our efforts build on African ownership, yield significant outcomes, and can be replicated across Africa.  The G-8 will work together to advance the objectives of the New Alliance and G-8 members will support its individual elements on a complementary basis.

To mobilize private capital for food security, the New Alliance will:

  • Support the preparation and financing of bankable agricultural infrastructure projects, through multilateral initiatives including the development of a new Fast Track Facility for Agriculture Infrastructure. 
  • Support the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP), with the goal of securing commitments of $1.2 billion over three years from existing and new donors, scaling up and strengthening the operations of its public and private sector windows and support other mechanisms that improve country ownership and align behind CAADP national investment plans. 
  • Report on the progress of G-8 development finance institutions in catalyzing additional private investment in African agriculture and increasing the range of financing options and innovative risk mitigation tools available to smallholder farmers and medium-sized agribusinesses. 
  • Call on the World Bank, in collaboration with other relevant partners, to develop options for generating a Doing Business in Agriculture Index. 
  • Announce the signing of Letters of Intent from over 45 local and multinational companies to invest over $3 billion across the agricultural value chain in Grow Africa countries, and the signing by over 60 companies of the Private Sector Declaration of Support for African Agricultural Development outlining their commitment to support African agriculture and public-private partnerships in a responsible manner.

To take innovation to scale, the New Alliance will:

  • Determine 10-year targets in partner countries for sustainable agricultural yield improvements, adoption of improved production technologies, including improved seed varieties, as well as post-harvest management practices as part of a value-chain approach, and measures to ensure ecological sustainability and safeguard agro-biodiversity. 
  • Launch a Technology Platform with the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa and other partners in consultation with the Tropical Agriculture Platform and the Coalition for African Rice Development (CARD) initiative that will assess the availability of improved technologies for food commodities critical to achieve sustainable yield, resilience, and nutrition impacts, identify current constraints to adoption, and create a roadmap to accelerate adoption of technologies. 
  • Launch the Scaling Seeds and Other Technologies Partnership, housed at the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa to strengthen the seed sector and promote the commercialization, distribution and adoption of key technologies improved seed varieties, and other technologies prioritized by the Technology Platform to meet established goals in partner countries. 
  • Share relevant agricultural data available from G-8 countries with African partners and convene an international conference on Open Data for Agriculture, to develop options for the establishment of a global platform to make reliable agricultural and related information available to African farmers, researchers and policymakers, taking into account existing agricultural data systems. 
  • Launch an information and communications technology innovation challenge on extension services at the African Union Summit in July 2012. 
  • Explore opportunities for applying the non-profit model licensing approach that could expand African access to food and nutritional technologies developed by national research institutions. 

To reduce and manage risk, the New Alliance will:

  • Support the Platform for Agricultural Risk Management (PARM) to complete national agricultural risk assessment strategies, to be conducted by the World Bank and other international institutions in close partnership with New Alliance countries, with the mandate of identifying key risks to food and nutrition security and agricultural development and recommending options for managing these risks. 
  • Create a global action network to accelerate the availability and adoption of agricultural index insurance, in order to mitigate risks to farmers, especially smallholder and women farmers, and increase income and nutritional security.  This network will pool data and findings; identify constraints; support regional training and capacity-building; and accelerate the development of instruments appropriate for smallholders and pastoralists. 
  • Recognize the need for Africa-based sovereign risk management instruments, recognizing the progress by the African Union and its member governments toward creating the African Risk Capacity, a regional risk-pooling facility for drought management. 

To improve nutritional outcomes and reduce child stunting, the G-8 will:

  • Actively support the Scaling Up Nutrition movement and welcome the commitment of African partners to improve the nutritional well-being of their populations, especially during the critical 1,000 days window from pregnancy to a child’s second birthday.  We pledge that the G-8 members will maintain robust programs to further reduce child stunting. 
  • Commit to improve tracking and disbursements for nutrition across sectors and ensure coordination of nutrition activities across sectors. 
  • Support the accelerated release, adoption and consumption of bio-fortified crop varieties, crop diversification, and related technologies to improve the nutritional quality of food in Africa. 
  • Develop a nutrition policy research agenda and support the efforts of African institutions, civil society and private sector partners to establish regional nutritional learning centers. 

To ensure accountability for results, the New Alliance will:

  • Convene a Leadership Council to drive and track implementation, which will report to the G-8 and African Union on progress towards achieving the commitments under the New Alliance, including commitments made by the private sector. 
  • Report to the 2013 G-8 Summit on the implementation of the New Alliance, including the actions of the private sector, in collaboration with the African Union.
Press Briefing by Senior Administration Officials on Food Security
May 18, 2012

MS. HAYDEN:  Thank you very much.  Thanks, everyone, for joining us on this call.  The call today is on the record and embargoed until 6:00 a.m. tomorrow.  We’ve got two senior administration officials to talk to us about food security, both the speech the President is giving tomorrow and how it will be addressed at the G8.  Our officials are the USAID Administrator Raj Shah and Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economic Affairs Mike Froman.

They’ll each offer brief opening remarks and then we’ll just go ahead and get to your questions.  So why don’t we go ahead and turn it over to you, Mike.

MR. FROMAN:  Great.  Thanks, Caitlin, and thanks, everybody, for joining us.  I thought I’d start by just providing some background to set the stage.  Food security has been a top priority for the President since he came into office.  In the early days of his administration he went to the G20 summit in London and called then for a major food security initiative.  And later that summer, at L’Aquila, he played the lead role in marshaling $22 billion of support for food security -- setting up a fund at the World Bank called the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program; getting a lot of other countries to participate in this initiative, including countries beyond the G8.

And very importantly, the L’Aquila initiative was more than just about money, because in that initiative leaders agreed to put their money behind country plans that had been developed and that were owned by the developing countries themselves, and to increase investment in research and development, to better coordinate our efforts, and to act both bilaterally and through multilateral institutions.

So over the last few years we’re been implementing this initiative.  And as we head to the G8 this weekend in Camp David, the President will be rolling out the next phase of this initiative, which our second administration speaker will speak to in a minute.  But just by way of context, this past decade, Africa’s economic output has surged.  And the IMF projects nearly 6 percent growth for the continent of Africa this year.  And while it’s still a poor continent, it’s one with a growing middle class and with real income per head growing at 3 percent a year -- twice the global rate.

It’s also a continent where the development is not driven entirely by assistance and where there's a lot of trade and investment going on.  Over the past decade we’ve seen a rapid growth in trade, labor productivity and foreign investment, and major reductions in foreign debt and inflation.  For example, between 2000 and now, trade between Africa and the rest of the world has increased by over 200 percent.  The rate of foreign investment has soared tenfold.  Labor productivity has grown 3 percent a year.  Inflation has dropped from 22 percent in the 1990s to 8 percent in the last decade.  And foreign debt has declined by a quarter, and budget deficits by two-thirds.

In 2010, foreign direct investment in Africa was more than $65 billion -- five times what it was a decade earlier and much more than Africa received in official foreign assistance.  And this transformation from a continent where foreign assistance is a dominant feature to one in which trade and investment play an increasing role have allowed us to also help evolve our development policy to complement what we’re doing in terms of foreign assistance with efforts to drive trade and foreign investment.

And that’s what the new alliance that we’ll be laying out tomorrow is really all about.  It’s not about replacing aid; it’s about combining aid with private capital, tools to scale innovation and strategies for managing risk. 
With that, why don’t I turn it over to Raj to go into further detail.

MR. SHAH:  Great.  Thank you.  I just want to start by picking up where -- a point Mike made about the extraordinary commitment and leadership that was demonstrated at the L’Aquila summit in 2009.  That was an extraordinary moment because it was the first time in decades that the world came together and made real commitments to reinvest in agriculture and nutrition as the solution to food insecurity, and to make sure that countries had enough food and economic vitality in the agriculture sector to avoid large-scale hunger and malnutrition.

In response to that strong commitment, as the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program was created at the World Bank, more than 30 African countries completed the process of creating country plans and investment programs, many of them achieving the target they set for themselves of 10 percent of local resources being invested in the agriculture sector.  And many of the donor partners coming out of the L’Aquila summit met and have been on track to meet their commitments made in that setting.

As a result of those efforts, we’ve seen real progress:  agricultural productivity growth in our own target Feed the Future countries is eight times that of the global average.  And that extra agricultural product has protected millions of people from needing food aid during times of emergency crisis like we saw during the drought -- severe drought in the Horn of Africa last year. 

The G8 summit and tomorrow’s announcement will really seek to maintain and extend those commitments.  It will seek to maintain the high level of public investment in agriculture and to ensure their strong agriculture institution.  It will seek to continue the transition of aid programs through country-led plans and efforts, primarily prioritize those things that countries themselves are investing in and believe are most valuable to help themselves move out of poverty and hunger.  And it will seek to replenish and take forward the Global Agricultural and Food Security Program as a particularly efficient vehicle for supporting country plans that have been vetted and are of high quality.

But in addition, as we looked at this, and as my colleague’s introduction in terms of the overall economic context for Africa makes clear, we’ve also taken extraordinary new steps -- much more private sector investment and trade, both locally and internationally, to address food security.  And tomorrow, the President will announce a new alliance for food security and nutrition designed to bring people together to expand private sector investments against the goal of reducing hunger and poverty.

Governments will come to the event to make clear their commitments to reform certain policies and create more space for businesses and private investors and local farmers to succeed.  Private sector companies -- we estimate nearly 45 of them -- will make clear and concrete commitments to invest more than $3 billion in agricultural projects and programs that will help reach millions of small-scale farmers -- most of whom are women -- improve their product and improve their outcomes.  And G8 partners and other international development partners will reaffirm their commitment to coordinate their activities in-country and support this new public/private approach.

By taking this new approach, we believe that it's possible to move 50 million people out of the condition of poverty and hunger, and will additionally create accountability systems to make sure that we're both achieving that target goal and holding all of our partners and ourselves accountable for the commitments that are being made. 

In addition, there are a handful of important enabling actions that will support more innovation in the global agricultural research system, will support more rapid investment in agricultural-related infrastructure in countries, and will support countries in their efforts to manage risks more carefully so that droughts and floods and other natural occurrences don’t wipe out the capital base of farmers who are often the pillars of growth for rural communities.

And I guess I'll just conclude by saying when you actually look at some of these private sector commitments and partnerships, they really do feel quite extraordinary -- whether it's Pepsi investing to reach smallholder farmers with -- and build out chickpea products that they can use for both their commercial products and that the World Food Program can use in targeted feeding programs, or local companies like Tanseed in Tanzania, that will commit $11 million to purchase improved seeds from contract growers and package them in small packaging so they can market them specifically to small-scale farmers, most of whom are women, or Yara’s commitment to build Africa’s first major fertilizer production facility to lower the cost of access to that incredibly important input.

These are the kinds of transformations that are really only possible when the public sector and private sector overcome sometimes their skepticism of each other and work together to create more opportunity for the African farmers who, at the end of the day, are the ticket out of poverty and hunger and food insecurity.

Do you want to add to that?

MR. FROMAN:  Yes, let me just include by just highlighting a bit about what’s going to happen at the summit itself.

The G8 summit has, for years, had an Africa outreach session -- we’ve seen the Gleneagles commitments, part was on debt relief; gains on global health; et cetera.  And this year, the President decided to focus the Africa outreach session on food security to highlight the importance of this issue in particular.  Not because the other issues aren’t important, obviously, but because he thinks this is an issue that warrants extensive and serious deliberation among the leaders.

So he’s invited four African leaders from Ghana, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Benin.  The Benin President serves as chair of the Africa Union.  He’s also invited some representatives of the private sector from Africa and, more generally, who are active in agriculture or in investing in agriculture.  And there will be a robust discussion among them about the new alliance, the next steps forward, and what the G8 can do to support increased agricultural productivity, growth in Africa, and strengthening food security and nutrition.

MS. HAYDEN:  Okay, thank you.  Just to remind folks who may have just joined the call, this call is on the record and embargoed until 6:00 a.m. tomorrow, Friday, May 18th. 

And with that, we’re ready to take some questions.

Q    Thanks so much, all of you.  Mike, a question to you as to how you see the balance between governmental action and private sector investment.  Just what would you say to people in the NGO community who are concerned that this initiative could be part of a way that governments who are obviously hard-pressed are trying to deflect some of their responsibility to the private sector.

MR. FROMAN:  Why don’t I start and then, Raj, feel free to jump in.

I think it’s absolutely clear that the President has been fully supportive of our foreign assistance efforts.  He’s developed for the first time a comprehensive development policy for the administration.  And we’ve seen, even in this sluggish environment, our commitment to food security go up, and even while other things have had to be cut.  So I think it’s absolutely clear that we stand behind the importance of the official assistance.

And what this initiative is about is recognizing that in addition to official assistance, there’s an important role to play by the private sector in investing in sustainable efforts to increase agricultural productivity.  So he was the one who generated the $22 billion of commitments at L’Aquila.  He’s put forward several budgets that have demonstrated his commitment to foreign assistance and to food security in particular.  And this effort builds on that foundation, and talks about using tools intelligently by the government to leverage private sector involvement as well.

And, Raj, if you’d like to add anything.

MR. SHAH:  I would just add two thoughts.  One is, in taking this forward, we are absolutely reaffirming the L'Aquila effort.  And that means that 30 countries that have developed plans, we are accelerating our own and asking others to seek to maintain high levels of investment and commitment, and accelerated efforts to coordinate and support those country plans.  So we're taking that forward with the very clear recognition that you must have a certain level of effective and results-oriented public investment for this project to work overall. 

That said, I think we've also seen that the private sector brings some incredibly unique technologies and business models that simply can't be replicated by public sector investment alone.  Vodafone, for example, is committing to reach 500,000 small-scale farmers with SMS text-based services that would allow them to ascertain local market prices.  In previous studies, we've found that that service alone helps farmers improve their incomes by 20 percent because they can negotiate better farmgate prices with middlemen when they have that data at their fingertips, and they wouldn’t otherwise have that date in their fingertips.  And it's highly unlikely that there's a public sector solution that could fill that gap.

So when you look at the examples, I think it becomes more clear that we need both public and private partnership in order to achieve these extraordinary results.

Q    Thank you, both, very much. 

Q    Yes, just two quick things.  One is, in terms of the commitment from private companies, is there a dollar estimate of where it's at right now?  I've heard $3 billion to $3.5 billion. Also wondering -- I’m understanding what the U.S. is proposing to do and what the private sector looks like it's going to do.  What about the other seven of the G8?  What will President Obama specifically be asking of them?

MR. FROMAN:  Raj, do you want to talk about the private sector commitments and I can comment a little bit on the G8?

MR. SHAH:  Yes, sure.  Well, we have approximately -- we expect that tomorrow there will be approximately 45 different private sector commitments that are made.  A little bit less than half of that comes from African companies and entrepreneurs and businesses, and the remainder from partners from around the world. 

We don’t know the exact total.  And there's many ways -- although the number is easy to communicate, it will be more than $3 billion.  In many ways, it's less important than the precedence and the logistics capacity and the businesses and the talent that companies will bring to these markets and to these challenges. 

And so, for instance, when DuPont indicates that they'll bring some of their best managers and crop breeders and scientists to their Ethiopian business, we may not be able to price exactly the value of that, but nevertheless, it will make seed production, duplication and distribution much more effective in Ethiopia.  So I think that’s probably the best answer in terms of the private sector commitments.

And, Mike, do you want to tackle the other G8 partners?

MR. FROMAN:  Yes, let me just say -- I'd say the following, and feel free to add to it. 

The way that this works in the G8, and the way we did this in L'Aquila with the agreement on the principles, and now here on the agreement of -- on the new alliance, is we've laid out a series of streams of work and priorities for the G8 donors to focus on.  And each country will do -- may emphasize one part of it more than another.  They may partner with countries in Africa -- some set of countries in Africa more than others, due to historical ties.  But they've all agreed that these various initiatives around mobilizing capital and access to markets, taking innovation to scale, and reducing and mitigating risk are the three areas of the new alliance that they will all work to align their programs with as they work with these countries who are putting forth their investment plans.

And so we would expect that individual G8 countries would, over the next few days and weeks, lay out additional information about their own plans in this regard.

Q    So there won't be a $20 billion number like what was coming out of L'Aquila?

MR. FROMAN:  No.  I think what this will be is -- I mean, there may be commitments that individual countries make around particular parts of this initiative.  But what this is going to be I think is more cooperation and a whole series of work streams along these areas.  As my colleague said, G8 members will seek to maintain the level of commitments that they've had since L'Aquila in this area.  So they are very much looking forward to continuing down the road that they started three years ago.  And this is really about how to channel those efforts into the most innovative and productive ways possible.

Q    I was under the impression that you were going to publish an accountability report in the interest of transparency on how much of the $22 billion has been raised, how much has been spent.  Have you done that yet or are you about to do it, and what’s in it?

MR. FROMAN:  Raj, You want to take that one?

MR. SHAH:  Sure.  Yes, in fact, I believe on Saturday the G8 accountability report will be published.  It will be -- as far as I can tell -- the most detailed accountability report ever put out by the G8, and it will demonstrate that, by and large, countries have worked hard to meet commitments.  There are some areas where improvements need to be made, and they will be called out as well.

But it is a very serious effort to put forth in detail how the $22.2 billion has been accounted for, the fact that nearly all of that -- I believe $22.1 billion -- is fully budgeted and appropriated, and that some percentage is dispersed and some percentage is still yet to go as we get to the last eight or nine months here of the L’Aquila pledge period and timeframe.

It also, importantly, in addition to describing the financial accountability, we’ll also describe how countries have performed in trying to adopt what are now known as the Rome Principles that were outlined when the commitment was made.  And those were the principles to focus on small-scale farmers, mostly women, to focus on country plans and support those plans, to better coordinate efforts. 

And I think you’ll see in that setting that some countries, notably the United States, have made real efforts that are very, very serious efforts to adopt those principles.  And we’ll all continue to try do more to implement those principles as we go forward with this effort.

Q    Hey, thanks for having the call.  I just wanted to check -- my questions got asked, but let me ask for like the third time on what this means in terms of the commitment or -- so you’re saying you’re not going to let the money from the last summit in 2009 expire?  That would continue to go forward from the U.S. and you expect the other countries, too?

MR. SHAH:  I can start with that, Mike.  I think that’s right.  Look, we’re not -- we haven’t completed the timeframe of disbursement of that commitment.  So the first task at hand is to accelerate and completely live up to that commitment.  And we have a strong expectation that that will be one result coming out of this dialogue.

Second, we’re reaffirming the need for that level of commitment and seeking to maintain those high levels of commitment going forward. 

And third, launching this new alliance to help supplement that effort with accelerated private sector investments in the public/private partnership.  So hopefully, that addresses that point.

You may want to add to it.

MS. HAYDEN:  I apologize to everyone.  Mike actually just got called away for a moment, but I think we have time for a few more with his colleague still, so we can go ahead and take the next question.

Q    I guess I’m continuing along the same lines.  So there won’t be a new dollar commitment from the United States?  And also, is there a time period on this program?  Like, I think the L’Aquila commitment was for three years.  Is there a particular time period in which all of this is supposed to happen?

MR. SHAH: The timeframe for the L’Aquila commitment was a little bit different based on different countries and their appropriations cycles and fiscal years, but it largely goes through the end of 2012 overall.

Going forward, our goal is to recognize that this is going to be a long-term effort.  It will take at least a decade to achieve our objectives, and we want to maintain and seek to maintain the level of support on an annual basis that the L’Aquila pledges represented.

As my colleague had indicated, there are a number of opportunities here for cultural development and nutrition and food security, but there will be a broad range of options for other countries to also make their commitments and accelerate their efforts.  And we fully expect that we will be able to take forward the current level of support.

Q    Hi.  My question is regarding the mitigating the flood and drought risk, and to what extent this administration will push for measures to either adapt or mitigate climate change in the upcoming summit with respect to food security.

MR. SHAH: Yes, we would need my colleague to address that more broadly than food security.  In the context of food security, I would point out that very clear climate changes -- including hotter and dryer growing conditions in sub-Saharan Africa, more frequent droughts that are leading to really serious and dire consequences on the food security side -- are a big part of the motivation toward this effort. 

And as part of this effort going forward, it will be reinvigorating investment and partnerships in areas to create improved crop varieties that can perform well in poor climate and bad climate outcomes.  We’ll be investing in efforts to help countries develop risk mitigation strategies, some of which are public/private partnerships with insurers and others, some of which have been proposed by the African Union to create risk pools that will help countries mitigate the risks that we know exist with the changing climate. 

So in many ways, the motivation for and the content of this approach is fundamentally designed to address the reality that climate changes are making -- are putting downward pressure on food production in precisely the place that is most food insecure, and with precisely those producers who are most dependent on improved agricultural production to feed their families and send their kids to school and ensure their children are not malnourished.  And so, I thank you for asking.

Q    Thank you.

MS. HAYDEN:  Thank you.  This will be our last question.  And before we have people drop off, just a reminder that this is embargoed until 6:00 a.m.  And with that, we’ll take the last question.

Q    Thank you.  Will there be -- and I know we’ve talked about this -- will there be any specific commitments -- well, has the U.S. filled its own commitment from the last time around?  And the second question was, will there be new, specific commitments that we can measure to see whether or not countries are living up to those in this round?

MR. SHAH: I appreciate it.  I think that just three quick points.  First, the U.S. -- the data on U.S. commitments will be in the accountability reports, along with other countries.  But I think you’ll find the United States as fully budgeted and, in fact, Congress has fully appropriated the U.S. commitment.  And it’s being disbursed as we speak, and we’re on track -- although, we had to accelerate dramatically the rate of disbursement on track to meet and fulfill our commitment in its absolute entirety.  That speaks to the U.S. commitment. 

Going forward -- both the United States and our aspiration for other partners is to seek to continue that level, that high level of focus and attention and resources for agricultural development while being smarter and more modern in how we do it by actually bringing in private partners and private investments so we can have more impact for every dollar that we spend, and we can bring the new technology and the new solutions to small-scale farmers.

And finally, I’d say that there absolutely will be a way to track results.  In fact, we will be establishing a leadership council that will meet regularly and be at a very high level with international partners and the African heads of state that will be able to track not only continued expenditures in agricultural development, but also evaluate whether the private companies are living up to the investment commitments they’re making.  And most importantly, whether results are being achieved on the path to moving 50 million people out of poverty and hunger, specifically agricultural productivity, growth and agricultural GDP growth, both of which are measurable and transparent, and can be the basis of that evaluation.

MS. HAYDEN:  All right, I think that’s all we have time for. Administrator, thank you so much for doing this.  And to all our journalists, colleagues, thank you for joining, and have a good day.