The jury is still out, but all eyes are on the G8

By Emily Alpert, Senior Policy Manager, Agriculture, ONE

Planting a Seed of Change
at the G8

Blog: Agriculture Fights Poverty

The Camp David G8 Summit is fast approaching. Organizations like ONEhave been working tirelessly to influence the G8’s thinking on food and nutrition security. We’ve asked the G8 to not only deliver on their past commitments, but more importantly, agree to do more.

At ONE, we’ve also asked our 3 million members worldwide to plant a seed of change in the heads of the G8. This “seed of change” calls on the G8 – along with African governments and the private sector – to fully finance 30 agriculture and food security country investment plans and proven nutrition solutions to lift 50 million people out of poverty and save 15 million children from stunting within the next 10 years. Our new Thrive campaign report “Food. Farming. Future.” spells out the details.

How are the G8 responding? Well, it’s a little tough to say. No formal proposals have been shared publicly, but this is what we’ve been hearing about the anticipated US G8 Proposal:

  • The private sector is the missing link to agricultural-led growth and food security and the G8 will focus its efforts on leveraging private sector investment in Africa to lift 50 million people out of poverty over 10 years
  • To start, the G8 will pilot a number of investments – from risk management to scaling technology and innovation in the farming sector – in 6 “vanguard” countries: Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Mozambique, Tanzania
  • The G8 will continue to prioritize country-ownership and align investments behind country-investment plans and target smallholder farmers, especially women small-holder farmers

As you can imagine, this is not a lot of detail for a global initiative that is so critical for breaking the cycle of poverty and malnutrition. Naturally, it raises a lot of questions:

  • Will the G8 offer up new financing to back this initiative? Surely it cannot succeed, nor these goals realized, without sustained donor support.
  • 6 countries is hardly global, will they reach the level of ambition needed to lift 50 million people out of poverty? And what does this signal to the remaining 25 countries (Cote d’Ivoire doesn’t have an investment plan) about the efforts they’ve taken so far to become investment-ready?
  • How will the G8 ensure that the private sector aligns behind country plans? Or agree to target smallholders and women as their customers and beneficiaries?
  • Which private sector are they referring to? Will the initiative help to build small and medium sized enterprises in Africa – a necessary requirement for building sustainable agriculture sectors – in addition to looking for outside investment?
  • Where is nutrition in all of this? The consequences of neglecting childhood nutrition are devastating and debilitating for families, communities and countries.
  • And what lies ahead for accountability? The current annual G8 Accountability reports are lacklustre. Greater transparency and consistent and standard reporting requirements are a must.

With less than 3 weeks to go, the G8 must demonstrate how it will align its endeavors behind country owned plans – this is needed to achieve greater impact, and to boost confidence in African leaders and prospective African investors – from outside and within. Africa is ready to do business and has enormous untapped potential to be a greater contributor to the global economy, but donor aid is the cornerstone to reducing investment risk – especially for reaching disparate and poor producers – and cannot be downplayed or dismissed, even under challenging financial circumstances.

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