At the High-Level Meeting on Food Security for All hosted in early January 2009 by the Spanish government in Madrid, stakeholders from more than 126 countries deliberated how to assure food security for all in developed and developing countries alike. The high level meeting carried forward the process launched by the June 2008 Rome food summit. Its purpose was to accelerate progress in meeting MDG 1 and address the effects of price fluctuations in vulnerable populations. The final report established the following outcomes:
- States have a primary responsibility to make their best efforts to respect, ensure, fulfill and promote the right to have regular and permanent access to adequate food, especially of children under five years of age, women and other vulnerable groups. In these matters, states should take their lead from the Voluntary Guidelines to Support the Progressive Realization of the Right to Adequate Food adopted by the FAO General Council in 2004.
- There is an urgent need to identify financing gaps and the additional resources needed for existing antifamine mechanisms, including for food and nutrition assistance and social protection programmes, and for supporting smallholder agriculture. These actions will, however, only be effective and efficient if they are led by the governments of affected countries, their parliaments, local governments and citizenship. It is equally important to engage civil society and the private sector in the implementation of coordinated actions for alleviating food insecurity among the most vulnerable populations.
- The social and economic development of rural areas must become a primary policy objective. Thus, enhancing sustainable rural development is essential ? and in particular the entire agro value chain, associated services, and the policy environment in which it operates. It is essential to include marginalised and excluded men, women, and children and indigenous groups in this process, giving them voice so that their views are prioritised when analysing the problems, searching for viable solutions and implementing them.
- All aspects of food security must be addressed, not only by increasing production, but also by developing social protection systems and eliminating all forms of competition- distorting subsidies, in order to stimulate and conduct agricultural trade in a fair way.
Some participants promoted a new Global Partnership for Agriculture and Food Security. However, the relevance of a new global partnership for the people that suffer hunger was criticised severely by many civil society organisations and some governments. The establishment of the partnership was not formalised during the meeting and will be subject to further discussion.
In his closing remarks, UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon noted the 'twin tracks' that need to be continued: meeting ''urgent hunger and humanitarian needs by providing food and nutrition assistance and safety nets, while focusing on improving food production and smallholder agriculture''. And he added: ''We should be ready to add a third track, the right to food, as a basis for analysis, action and accountability''.