GLOBAL PANEL: The session moderated by Maria Livanos Cattaui, Former Secretary General, of the International Chamber of Commerce, debated issues on food security.
A panel of experts from international non-governmental organisations, academia, and civil society joined Nestlé Chairman Peter Brabeck-Letmathe yesterday to debate the role of business in ensuring global food security.
The Creating Shared Value Forum in Focus - organised by Nestlé and the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies - took place at the World Meteorological Organization in Geneva before a live and online audience.
Among those taking part were Bekele Geleta, Secretary General of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC); Scott Poynton, Executive Director of The Forest Trust (TFT) and Stephen Hale, Deputy Advocacy and Campaigns Director and Head of the Geneva Office of Oxfam International.
Also on the panel were Jean-Louis Arcand, Professor of International Economics and Development Studies, The Graduate Institute; Willem Olthof, Head of Sector Agriculture, Food Security and Rural Development for the European Commission; and Stefan Tangermann, Professor Emeritus at the University of Göttingen and Former Director for Trade and Agriculture for the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.
During the lively two-hour discussion, Mr Brabeck-Letmathe firmly reiterated his opposition to the use of agricultural land for the production of biofuels, appealing to financial markets not to treat food as just another commodity.
He said: “Food should not be regarded in the same way as oil, copper or rubber. It is, as we say in German, ‘Lebensmittlel’, a substance nurturing life. We need to bring this important idea to the forefront.”
Moderated by Maria Livanos Cattaui, Former Secretary General, of the International Chamber of Commerce, the Forum focused on eradicating hunger, agricultural policies, improving nutrition and how to increase food production while protecting the environment.
Scott Poynton of TFT argued that in all four areas, businesses such as Nestlé have the potential to drive change by pushing innovation right down their supply chains.
Referring to TFT’s partnership with the Company to build more responsible palm oil supply chains, Poynton said he believed that Nestlé was leading the way by putting objectives in place and making them happen.
Backing Mr Brabeck-Letmathe’s call to return food security to the top of the international agenda, Stephen Hale announced that this will be Oxfam International’s primary focus from spring 2011. Professor Jean-Louis Arcand added that feeding the world’s one billion people who go hungry every day has to be seen as a ‘good investment’.
On the subject of nutrition, Mr Brabeck-Letmathe underlined Nestlé’s commitment to combating micronutrient deficiencies such as vitamin A, iodine and iron, by continuing to update its portfolio of fortified Popularly Positioned Products (PPPs) aimed at low income consumers.
The afternoon discussion maintained the momentum generated by Nestlé’s annual Creating Shared Forum, the second of which was held in May 2010 in London.
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