Chicago Council Symposium: The New Way of Aid

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The Chicago Council on Global Affairs’ annual symposium, Advancing Food and Nutrition Security at the 2012 G8 Summit, is underway this morning. Tune in to the livestream here and follow the discussion on Twitter with @globalagdev  #globalag

Musician Bono, governmental leaders, and corporate CEOs discussed the new era of agricultural development. (Photo credit: Bernard Pollack)

The development landscape is changing, and private and public leaders each have a vision for how the development landscape should change. Andrew Mitchell, Secretary of State for the Department for International Development (DFID), said that Africa’s major challenges will be a rapidly growing population, an increasing demand for food products, and climate change. He said that business as usual will not be enough and that the recently announced New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition will not business as usual.

Ellen Kullman, CEO of DuPont, and Strive Masiyiwa, acting Chairman of the Board Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), both stressed the importance of connecting with the smallholder farmer and finding out what their needs are. Masiyiwa said, “If we are going to help the smallholder farmers, most of whom are women, we must listen to them.” Kullman said that everyone describes food security differently, but that there are a few fundamentals: it must be local, the know-how must be local, and it has to be sustainable—in how it gets to market and how it gets to people’s plates.

Kristalina Georgieva, European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid, and Crisis Response, began her statements by quoting President Barack Obama from earlier today, “We must hold ourselves accountable, measure results.” She said that results matter for all parties involved—including the farmer, local businessman, trader, international organizations, and private sector companies—if we will be successful in lifting 50 million people out of poverty.

USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah concluded that this new way of doing business is not a multinational company takeover of African agriculture, but that it will aim to connect companies like Monsanto with small-scale African seed companies. Adding that it’s easy to shy away from such partnerships because they remain controversial, Shah said, “If we’re going to tackle this challenge with actions not words, then we have to come together and think about succeeding.”

Bono followed with an inspirational mid-day speech, declaring that the aid conversation has changed because aid is smarter than it has ever been. He referred to the paradox of the world we live in: poverty and plenty in the same places. Africa has 400 million of the world poorest, but they are abundantly rich in resources, presenting the challenge of how to well-manage an abundance of resources and make sure this bounty benefits everyone. By 2050, Africa’s population will be nearly double that of China, creating an enormous need and potential for investment. He left the audience saying, “G8: Africa is an opportunity. Invest in it.”

What do you think is most needed in African agricultural development? Let us know in the comments!

To view the livestream of the symposium, click here, and follow Nourishing the Planet’s twitter feed documenting the symposium at @NourishPlanet.

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