Funding the revolution

Originally published in in January 2015.

Written by Claire Melamed, Director of Growth, Poverty and Inequality Programme at ODI and Grant Cameron, Manager at the World Bank Group (DECDG).

A revolution starts with an idea, but to become real, it has to move quickly to a practical proposition about getting stuff done. And getting things done needs money. If the ideas generated last year, in the report of the UN Secretary General’s Independent Expert Advisory Group and elsewhere, about how to improve data production and use are to become real, then they will need investments. It’s time to start thinking about where the money to fund the data revolution might come from, and how it might be spent.

Getting funding for investment in data won’t be easy. As hard-pressed statistical offices around the world know to their cost, it’s tough to persuade governments to put money into counting things instead of, say, teaching children or paying pensions. But unless the current excitement about data turn into concrete commitments, it will all fade away once the next big thing comes along, leaving little in the way of lasting change.

So what is needed? Two things. Firstly, there must be new money for investments in data. But, critically, a second thing is needed too – the money must be spent in ways that enable and incentivise the changes that are needed to take advantage of the revolutionary possibilities in the data landscape. The IEAG report laid out four areas in which change is needed: capacity and resources, technology and innovation, principles and standards, and partnerships and leadership. New money, used well, can support all these and help to drive the changes that are needed.  In particular, four new funding streams might help to drive progress in the right direction:

1. Funding for official statistics. As the IEAG said, ‘strengthening national capacities will be the essential test of any data revolution’. Building on the idea of ‘country compacts’, new money could be used to support change at the national level, supporting dialogue between data providers and data users, enabling new and useful partnerships between public sector, private sector and civil society, investing in the technological infrastructure, and rewarding measurable improvements in the production and use of high quality data.

2. Funding for innovation. While official statistics will be the core, ignoring the potential for innovation to solve problems, create new possibilities, and leapfrog over current technologies, will in the long run be a waste of resources. Innovation is happening, and it is important that funds are available to ensure that there are incentives to innovate in the public interest as well as for the private sector. A starting point could to be to explore how new innovations could help to fill gaps in data for the new Sustainable Development Goals, along the lines of the ‘SDG data labs’ proposed by the IEAG report.

3. Funding for data literacy and use. A dedicated funding stream for civil society groups, to enable them to experiment with the collection and use of data, to strengthen data literacy and build capacity, and in the end to drive increased demand for and use of data will be a key part of using the data revolution to achieve long term change in government policies and in the relationship between governments and citizens.

4. Funding for partnership and leadership. Most of the action, initiatives, and financing required to drive the data revolution will happen at the national and local levels. But, as the IEAG report makes clear, global level partnerships and leadership can help to consolidate and share emerging lessons and develop standards, can help to broker necessary partnerships, can help to develop regional and global technology infrastructure, and can help to showcase best practice and encourage innovation. This too, needs resources, and political support to drive it.

Good data, used well, is not cheap. But this is the moment to lay down the foundations for a future of high quality, accessible, and useful data. Good data will be essential for both monitoring and achieving the new sustainable development goals – and so funding for data could, and probably should, be a part of the discussion at the Third International Conference on Financing for Development to be held in Addis Ababa in July this year. If governments, companies and civil society rise to the challenge of investing in data in ways that drive change and improvement, then that could be the moment when we know if the ‘data revolution’ will be more than just a good idea.


Post-2015 process

Originally published in UN Sustainable Development website.

The United Nations is in the process of defining a post-2015 development agenda. This agenda will be launched at a Summit in September 2015, which is the target date for realizing the MDGs. It is currently being elaborated through informal consultations of the UN General Assembly. The President of the General Assembly has appointed two Co-facilitators to lead those informal consultations. The process of arriving at the post 2015 development agenda is Member State-led with broad participation from Major Groups and other civil society stakeholders. There has been numerous inputs to the agenda, notably a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) proposed by an open working group of the General Assembly, the report of an intergovernmental committee of experts on sustainable development financing, GA dialogues on technology facilitation and many others. The General Assembly called upon the Secretary-General to synthesize the full range of inputs and to present a synthesis report before the end of 2014 as a contribution to the intergovernmental negotiations in the lead up to the Summit. The United Nations has played a facilitating role in the global conversation on the post 2015 development agenda and supported broad consultations. It also has the responsibility of supporting Member States by providing evidence-based inputs, analytical thinking and field experience.

Road to Dignity by 2030: UN chief launches blueprint towards sustainable development

4 December 2014 – Calling for inclusive, agile and coordinated action to usher in an era of sustainable development for all, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today presented the United Nations General Assembly with an advance version of his so-called “synthesis report,” which will guide negotiations for a new global agenda centred on people and the planet, and underpinned by human rights.

“Next year, 2015, will herald an unprecedented opportunity to take far-reaching, long-overdue global action to secure our future well-being,” Mr. Ban said as he called on Member States to be “innovative, inclusive, agile, determined and coordinated” in negotiating the agenda that will succeed the landmark Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the UN-backed effort to reduce extreme poverty and hunger, promote education, especially for girls, fight disease and protect the environment, all by 2015.

[We] have an historic opportunity and duty to act, boldly, vigorously and expeditiously, to turn reality into a life of dignity for all, leaving no one behind.

In an informal briefing to the 193-Member Assembly, the UN chief presented his synthesis report, The Road to Dignity by 2030: Ending Poverty, Transforming All Lives and Protecting the Planet, alongside the President of the General Assembly, Sam Kutesa who also addressed delegates, describing the process of intergovernmental negotiations that fed into the report’s compilation to set the stage for agreement on the new framework at a September 2015 summit and stressing the “historical responsibility” States faced to deliver a transformative agenda.

The synthesis report aims to support States’ discussions going forward, taking stock of the negotiations on the post-2015 agenda and reviewing lessons from pursuit of the MDGs. It stresses the need to “finish the job” – both to help people now and as a launch pad for the new agenda.

In the report’s conclusion, the Secretary-General issues a powerful charge to Member States, saying: “We are on the threshold of the most important year of development since the founding of the United Nations itself. We must give meaning to this Organization’s promise to ‘reaffirm faith in the dignity and worth of the human person’ and to take the world forward to a sustainable future…[We] have an historic opportunity and duty to act, boldly, vigorously and expeditiously, to turn reality into a life of dignity for all, leaving no one behind.”

Never before has so broad and inclusive a consultation been undertaken on development, Mr. Ban told the Assembly today, referring to the consultations that followed Rio+20 [ the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development], adding that his synthesis report “looks ahead, and discusses the contours of a universal and transformative agenda that places people and planet at the centre, is underpinned by human rights, and is supported by a global partnership.”

The coming months would see agreement on the final parameters of the post-2015 agenda and he stressed the need for inclusion of a compelling and principled narrative, based on human rights and dignity. Financing and other means of implementation would also be essential and he called for strong, inclusive public mechanisms for reporting, monitoring progress, learning lessons, and ensuring shared responsibility.

He also welcomed the outcome produced by the Open Working Group, saying its 17 proposed sustainable development goals and 169 associated targets clearly expressed an agenda aiming at ending poverty, achieving shared prosperity, protecting the planet and leaving no one behind.

Discussions of the Working Group had been inclusive and productive and he the Group’s proposal should form the basis of the new goals, as agreed by the General Assembly. The goals should be “focused and concise” to boost global awareness and country-level implementation, communicating clearly Member States’ ambition and vision.

The synthesis report presented dignity, people, prosperity, the planet, justice and partnerships as an integrated set of “essential elements” aimed at providing conceptual guidance during discussions of the goals and Mr. Ban stressed that none could be considered in isolation from the others and that each was an integral part of the whole.

“Implementation will be the litmus test of this agenda. It must be placed on a sound financial footing,” he said welcoming the work of the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts on Sustainable Development Financing and encouraging countries to scale up their efforts.

The Financing for Development Conference in Addis Ababa next year would play a major role in outlining the means for implementation, and he stressed the “key role” national Governments would play in raising domestic revenue to benefit the poorest and most vulnerable members of society.

Official development assistance (ODA) and international public funds, particularly for vulnerable countries, would also be vital to unlocking “the transformative power of trillions of dollars of private resources”, while private investment would be particularly important on projects related to the transition to low-carbon economies, improving access to water, renewable energy, agriculture, industry, infrastructure and transport.

Implementation would also rely on bridging the technology gap, creating a new framework for shared accountability, and providing reliable data, which he called the “lifeblood of sound decision-making.”

Stressing his commitment to ensuring the best outcome from the post-2015 process, he underlined the need for States to be guided by universal human rights and international norms, while remaining responsive to different needs and contexts in different countries.

“We must embrace the possibilities and opportunities of the task at hand,” he said.

In an earlier interview with the UN News Centre Amina J. Mohammed, the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Post-2015 Development Planning stressed that one of the report’s main “takeaways” is that “by 2030 we can end poverty, we can transform lives and we can find ways to protect the planet while doing that.”

“I think that’s important because we’re talking about a universal agenda where we’re going to leave no one behind. It’s not doing things by halves or by three-quarters, it’s about everyone mattering…To say you don’t want to leave anyone behind is to look to see who is the most vulnerable and smallest member of the family and what is it that we’re going to have to do to ensure that they’re not left behind, because that will be the litmus test and success of what we do.”

Sustainable development goals
Goal 1 End poverty in all its forms everywhere
Goal 2 End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
Goal 3 Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
Goal 4 Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
Goal 5 Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
Goal 6 Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
Goal 7 Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
Goal 8 Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
Goal 9 Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
Goal 10 Reduce inequality within and among countries
Goal 11 Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
Goal 12 Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
Goal 13 Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts*
Goal 14 Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
Goal 15 Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
Goal 16 Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
Goal 17 Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development
* Acknowledging that the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is the primary international, intergovernmental forum for negotiating the global response to climate change.

Is there a blueprint for driving change at global level?

Published in Simon Maxwell blog

Is there a blueprint for driving change at global level – and is it being applied to sustainable energy and food security?

Interested in driving change at global level? Here’s how to do it, apparently: agree a Declaration; set global targets; write (or recommend the writing of) country plans; promise international support, usually through a specially created fund; and set up new bodies to coordinate action and monitor progress. Quite often, it is thought useful to have a High Level Panel to work through the issues in advance, and provide the ideas which will shape the Declaration.

There has been a long debate about the merits of this kind of approach. Does the use of quantitative targets bias interventions to what can be measured? Are global targets imposed from above? Do country plans reflect donor-driven priorities? Do vertical funds distort spending? Are new institutions really necessary? Critics are often – well, critical. Proponents, on the other hand, point to the benefits of political momentum, additional funding, and results on the ground. My own view is probably best captured by the title of an article I wrote back in 1998, when the International Development targets were all the rage, and the Millennium Development Goals were still a gleam in Clare Short’s eye: ‘International Targets for Poverty Reduction and Food Security: A Mildly Sceptical but Resolutely Pragmatic View with a Call for Greater Subsidiarity‘. Here is an extract from the summary:

‘International development targets adopted by UN Conferences provide political impetus, focus expenditure and help in monitoring progress. However, simple targets can misrepresent complex realities and distort policy. Monitoring targets can have a high opportunity cost. Political impetus can be lost if targets are over-ambitious. . . .’

The political impetus is key. ‘Pity the poor minister’, I observed ‘who has to fight their corner without the benefit of the President’s signature on the latest international declaration. If I were running the International Civil Aviation Authority or the Universal Postal Union, I would be organising a summit before you could say ‘potholes in the runway’ or ‘queues at the post office’.

A point I did not make in 1998, but might have done, is that the sonorous declarations which frame global initiatives are often opaque when it comes to the choices and trade-offs. One big choice is always evident, which is that the topic under review is of exceptional importance: what price repairing the potholes in the runway when food security or sustainable energy are the priorities of the moment? What price the funding of diseases not covered by the Global Fund? The very establishment of a global initiative implies choices at the margin about resource allocation.

Beyond that fork in the road, however, lie other choices about the substance, especially about incentive and regulatory frameworks and public expenditure packages. Perhaps it is legitimate to argue that these are best sorted out at country level. But perhaps not – especially when global policies are needed, as with the case of the environment. I wrote approvingly, only a few months ago, of the work of the Secretary General’s High Level Panel on Sustainability, which had strong things to say about such topics as subsidies on fossil fuels: the challenge was to see these views reflected in the Rio+20 Declaration.

Two recent examples of initiatives at a global scale are the Global Action Agenda on Sustainable Energy for All, issued by the UN Secretary General’s High Level Panel in April 2012, and the new Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, announced by the G8Group of Eight at Camp David in May 2012. How should they be rated?

Sustainable Energy for All

The Secretary General’s High Level Group on Sustainable Energy for All published its Global Action Agenda in April. The Group had been set three high level targets: ensuring universal access to modern energy services; doubling the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency; and doubling the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix. Its response is to recommend eleven ‘action areas’, each illustrated with a list of high-impact opportunities. The list of eleven action areas includes seven ‘sectoral’ areas and four ‘enabling’ areas, all listed in Box 1. Examples of the high-impact opportunities range from efficiency standards and home solar, to loan guarantees and new research partnerships. Needless to say, countries will be tasked with developing their own, tailored plans. Globally, metrics will be developed to measure progress, and regular assessments will be carried out. No vertical fund is proposed (yet!) – but there is talk of a special Trust Fund. Overall, we are told that ‘energy is the golden thread that connects economic growth, increased social equity, and an environment that allows the world to thrive.’

All this is fine, as far as it goes, but does rather leave questions in the air about priorities, sequences and modalities. There is plenty of discussion in other reports, on topics like fossil fuel subsidies, the pricing of environmental resources, or the use of subsidies to kick-start renewables: see, for example, the report of the High Level Panel on sustainability, or the new World Bank policy paper on green growth. At national level, these are hot topics: the new UK Energy Bill, for example, has generated a storm of debate about the role of the market in electricity generation.

Andrew Scott from ODIOverseas Development Institute (London) commented on the need for more detail when reporting on the EU’s Sustainable Energy for All Summit in April:

‘One of the key questions facing the Sustainable Energy for All Initiative was articulated by Danish Minister for Development Co-operation, and co-chair of the summit, Christian Friis Bach, namely how the three objectives are going to be reconciled. Recognising that price incentives make a difference, he asked how we can set these high enough to promote energy efficiency, low enough to enable access to energy services by the poor, and right enough to ensure environmental sustainability?’

Were the authors of the Global Action Agenda just being cautious on these topics? Did they really not have a view? Or were they rushed, wanting to put something out before Rio+20? The co-chairs, certainly Kandeh Yumkella and probably also Charles Holliday, know a great deal about this topic. So do those listed as Principals, including Andris Piebalgs. Perhaps there is more to come.

Food security and nutrition

A contrasting case is provided by the G8Group of Eight initiative on food security and nutrition. The relevant section of the communiqué is short enough to reproduce in full:

‘For over a decade, the G8Group of Eight 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.

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.

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.

The G8Group of Eight 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 G8Group of Eight 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.’

Most of the key elements of our global initiative blueprint are in place: an overall target; country-led initiatives; financial pledges; monitoring. Any missing pieces can be found in the background documentation, specifically a White House Fact Sheet.  It is reproduced at the end of this note. It offers some interesting differences of emphasis compared to the communiqué (for example a stronger statement about the role of smallholders); and also lists a breathtaking number of initiatives linked to the new ‘New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition’: a list is in Box 2, with what appear to be new items marked with an asterisk. One obvious omission: not a mention of the G20 initiative on food, which was so prominent only a year ago. Global shocks, and trade-related issues, which dominated then, feature very little in the new initiative.

Of the 21 items listed in Box 2, 13 are marked as new, ranging from the writing of plans and  reports and the organisation of conferences, through Declarations and frameworks, to new partnerships, platforms, facilities, and challenge funds. There is strong support for an existing vertical fund (the GAFSP) and commitment to a Leadership Council to ‘drive and track implementation’. The G8Group of Eight certainly cannot be faulted for lack of imagination in thinking about how to make things happen!
Despite the plethora of new initiatives, it is not quite clear where the New Alliance has positioned itself in substantive terms. Does it adjudicate between competing narratives on agriculture and food security? There are, after all, many debates in this field: cash crops or food crops? Large-scale or small-scale? Labour-intensive or capital-intensive? Stocks or imports? What is the role of the private sector? In the absence of a High Level Panel to review the debates and take positions, we are left to interpret the documents.
Most independent observers have focused on the private sector orientation of the New Alliance, observing that the new money to be mobilised is to come from the private sector. Many have been critical. A typical response was from Oxfam, who warned that

‘the ‘New Alliance to Increase Food and Nutrition Security’ focuses too heavily on the role of the private sector to tackle the complex challenges of food insecurity in the developing world . . .  The average private sector role in existing country food security plans, the basis for the L’Aquila agreement, is about 5%, and most have no role at all. This new alliance – is a nice complement at best, a deflection at worst. . . Smallholder farmers need the freedom to pursue their own growing strategies, not take overly-prescriptive tips on farming from G8Group of Eight leaders, or one size fits all technologies from far away CEOs.’

Others complained that the initiative focused too much on production, not enough on consumption. However, speaking inChicago just before the Camp David meeting, President Obama said that ‘we’re going to keep focusing on nutrition, especially for young children, because we know the effects of poor nutrition can last a lifetime’. At the same meeting, Hillary Clinton said ‘nutrition is just too important to be treated as an afterthought’. The documents all reference Scaling Up Nutrition.

This is not the place for detailed analysis of the New Alliance proposals. For the record, however, I am more sympathetic than some to the role of the national and international private sector – as reported in my report on discussions at Davos in 2011. It would have been good to say more about land policy and ‘land grabs’ – on which see the new European Report on Development. It’s good that nutrition is in. On the other hand, this is really an initiative about agriculture more than ‘food security’ as customarily understood. In that context, it seems odd not to say anything about global markets, or about the balance between food and cash crops.

The more general point is that the New Alliance would have benefited from making more visible the evidence and analysis underpinning the action programme – perhaps in the form of a High Level Panel Report. As it is, we are left to read between the lines and guess what choices have been made in adjudicating the big questions about the future of agriculture in Africa.

To conclude, these are two contrasting approaches. Both exhibit high-level ambition, with strong international targets and multi-faceted programmes of action. Both want to engage the private as well as the public sector. Both prioritise country-led programmes, Both promise monitoring and reporting. The energy report contains many practical suggestions as to new policies or programmes, but does not (yet) push these to the point of specific proposals, as in the G8Group of Eight action plan. The G8Group of Eight has created a whole new architecture of institutions to deliver change.

Neither initiative really provides depth of analysis, though much doubtless exists in the background (we hope!). That for me is an important lesson. The problem to be solved is self-evident in both these cases. But when shaping global initiatives in contested territory, it is necessary to win the argument about which solutions to choose – or at least, to provide a robust case for the solutions that eventually emerge.

Picture credit:

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.


Defining the future of agriculture

By Paul Bulcke

Published in World Economic Forum in January 2015

Achieving food and nutrition security today and for a world population that will number more than 9 billion and be 70% urbanised by 2050 is a key global challenge. According to the Food and Agricultural Organization, current global trends in incomes, diets and population growth suggest that 60% more food will be needed in 2050. The evidence points to this being achievable, but there are some increasingly urgent pressure points in the system that must be addressed, including depleting water tables, climate change, inadequate infrastructure and reductions in land availability, largely as a result of soil degradation.

I am an optimist: I have seen how the global food system has transformed over time to respond to population growth and societal needs. In the last 150 years, changes in this system have enabled us to feed a population that has grown from just over 1 billion in 1850 to 2.2 billion in 1940 and 7.2 billion in 2013. Food production soared during this period while the supply of edible food to the consumer underwent significant technological and distributional advances.

But there are still huge challenges, most notably the persistence of hunger and the scale of food that is wasted. Post-harvest losses and waste account for up to 50% of total calories available from farm to fork. Nonetheless, I am confident that the required solutions to address the food and nutrition security challenge can be found.

Sustainable agriculture

The sustainable development of agriculture has to be a central pillar in this endeavour. All actors in the food value chain, starting with farmers, must be involved.

For its part, the food industry can play a significant role. After all, the industry depends for its very existence on the reliable and sustainable provision of high-quality agricultural raw materials. While not directly involved in agriculture per se, the Nestlé approach is to seek to provide a robust framework for farmer livelihood and community development. In this respect, the importance of generating higher and more reliable incomes for farmers, notably smallholder farmers, cannot be overemphasised. We need to ensure that farming remains attractive for the next generation and thus that it is a sustainable and profitable activity. We need likewise to ensure that the rural communities in which farmers live remain vibrant and provide the necessary opportunities for economic and social development. Investing in rural education and focusing on the creation of job opportunities for rural populations through, for example, a decentralised manufacturing strategy, are some key elements.

At the same time, we must not forget the broad framework that conditions the development of sustainable agriculture, be this at the national or the international level. At the national level, open markets, relevant education programmes, higher infrastructure investment and appropriate legal frameworks, such as land rights, are needed. At the international level, the global trade regime must be appropriately designed and aligned. The science of agriculture matters too and here we need an objective multistakeholder discussion to allow us to harness innovations and new technologies appropriately.

Working together to achieve food security

Finally, we must remember that there are several dimensions to food security. Producing the necessary quantity of food is just one; the quality of food, in terms of nutrition, matters greatly, as does affordability, access and safety, while sustainability must underlie all these. Nestlé sees this as the need to move towards an efficient nutrition system. The complexity involved necessarily implies trade-offs and the participation of all stakeholders is crucial to address these trade-offs in the best way possible. The development of sustainable agriculture for food and nutrition security will thus require that all actors in the food system come together.

Governments must take the lead in creating the enabling environment within which farmers and other actors can deliver. They must ensure that all policy areas, including trade, education, finance and health, are involved and aligned. Market-based approaches must be prioritised as the only proven way to ensure long-term viability. The private sector must focus on bringing in investment and developing new technologies and other innovations, as well as delivering greater efficiencies where possible. And farmers must be front and centre of the picture.

A new vision for agriculture

The kind of multistakeholder approach that is needed is exemplified in the World Economic Forum’s New Vision for Agriculture initiative. This is helping crystallise common goals and interests across all the actors in the agricultural space and driving the establishment of coherent and action-oriented partnerships and commitments that are already yielding results. In many ways, it is putting agriculture back on policy agendas as a priority issue. This is vital.

As I noted at the outset, I am an optimist. That said, the transformation that took place in the food system last century did not happen by itself; it was the result of human ingenuity, action and collaboration. It is thus incumbent on current leaders from government, industry and civil society, many of whom are this year’s Annual Meeting, to take a strategic and global perspective on food and nutrition security and start putting the building blocks in place that will enable the global food system to sustainably meet society’s requirements in 2050.

Achieving a data revolution in sustainable development: open data for development

Published in publishwhatyoufund in October 2014.

Submission to the UN Expert Advisory Panel on the Data Revolution

Achieving a data revolution in sustainable development: open data for development

We welcome the appointment of the Independent Expert Advisory Group (IEAG) on the Data Revolution. We believe that open, timely and comparable data is needed to unlock the power of information to drive positive outcomes for sustainable development.

Definition of a data revolution

A data revolution will see timely, accessible, comprehensive and comparable information about development-related activities and impacts made public, in a way that different users can freely access it to monitor, compare, use and reuse the information for decision making, planning and accountability. This includes financial, descriptive and performance-related information.

Principles for a data revolution

Transparency, accountability and citizen engagement are now accepted as central to more effective development and are reflected in the current discussions on the post-2015 Development Agenda. In support of these discussions, the Expert Advisory Group should establish some basic principles in order to maximise both the availability and use of the data:

  1. Information should be published proactively: All providers and recipients of sustainable development flows should make public what they are doing, for whom, when and how.
  2. Information should be comprehensive, timely, accessible and comparable: Development information should be provided in open, comparable formats. Organisations should develop their systems to better facilitate the collection and publication of timely information.
  3. Everyone should be able to request and receive information on sustainable development processes: Everyone needs to be able to access the information as and when they wish. The information should be open by default.
  4. The right of access to information should be promoted: Governments and other organisations engaged in sustainable development should actively promote this right. This includes private companies, foundations, academic institutions, civil society organisations (CSOs) and other third parties.
  5. Open data and new technologies should be leveraged: Organisations should draw on the potential that new technologies offer for transparency and accountability. They should provide incentives to make the data more accessible to different stakeholders, including by investing in capacity building and adopting open data policies and practices.
  6. Build an enabling environment for citizen-led accountability: Open data is not a ‘silver bullet’ for accountability; citizens need political space to feed into discussions and enabling conditions to exert their right to access to information and participation.

Open data standards

Within the context of the Post-2015 Development Agenda, the international development community has been discussing the importance of standards and harmonisation to increase the transparency and comparability of development flows. These discussions can benefit from the lessons learnt from establishing and implementing the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI), a multi-stakeholder initiative comprised of donors, partner countries, foundations, open data experts and civil society.

Agreed in 2011, the IATI Standard is a technical publishing framework allowing open data from different development organisations to be compared, aligned with partner country budgets, and linked to results at national level. The Standard was developed after extensive consultations on the information needs of partner countries, CSOs and donors

Based on Publish What You Fund’s experience of advocating for an open standard for aid data, we recommend the establishment of compatible open data standards for other flows based on the following approach:

  1. Consult with users: Open consultations with user groups help identify their needs early on and build them into open data standards as they are being developed.
  2. Engage all stakeholders: A multi-stakeholder governance structure and working groups help ensure that open data standards are fit for purpose for various providers and users of the information.
  3. Invest in information management systems: The best quality information is backed up by good internal data collection systems that allow detailed, disaggregated information to be published automatically, using the “publish once, use often” approach. As well publishing the information as raw data, visualising it and making it available via open data portals help improve accessibility for non-expert users.
  4. Publish, use and improve: Several organisations initially published a limited amount of information to IATI and then continually made improvements, both to the coverage and timeliness of the data. This “publish, use, improve” approach allows for quick progress and external feedback helps identify systems improvements for driving up the quality of the data.
  5. Build awareness and capacity: Data supply does not guarantee use. This is partly due to capacity constraints of users; lack of awareness of what new data is available; and lack of systems required for mapping the information to other datasets already being used.
  6. Coordinate processes: Close coordination between the policy and technical functions of some IATI publishers has meant they have progressed quickly. Sharing best practice with others helps drive the supply and increase the quality of the data made available.

Getting the basics right

For a data revolution to have maximum impact, it needs to be built on these basic foundations:


Joining up different datasets, ensuring that they are standardised and data quality need to remain at the centre of discussions on the data revolution. Crucially, lessons learnt from opening up information on development flows via a common, open standard need to be incorporated into any new open data initiatives, building on the work done to date. The next step is to ensure the interoperability of different standards so the richness and usefulness of the data is enhanced.

Adequate resources and funds need to be allocated to all these activities to ensure continuous progress. The potential for open data to have a profound impact on development outcomes is enormous but it will require a truly multi-stakeholder approach to ensure that citizens and users are at the heart of discussions on a data revolution.

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