ECLAC, FAO and WFP encourage coordination of regional actions to combat food insecurity
6 diciembre 2022


Food security. On December 6, the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Food Program (WFP) presented the report “Towards sustainable food and nutrition security in Latin America and the Caribbean in response to the global food crisis”.  The document explains how the international crises of the last 15 years have had a negative impact on global value chains, with consequences for international trade, resulting in higher food prices and lack of access to inputs due to logistical and trade restrictions, among other issues. In this context, the organizations set out a series of measures to reduce food insecurity based on regional coordination.

First, the document states that the region has been directly impacted by a series of crises that have increased its vulnerability to external shocks that have had repercussions on production and marketing, given that most Latin American and Caribbean countries, according to the report, are net importers of grains, wheat, corn, agricultural products and vegetable oils. At the same time, trade restrictions in these contexts have led to increases in the prices of food and basic inputs which, together with domestic factors such as high levels of public debt, lack of access to credit and inflation, directly affect segments with lower purchasing power, causing an increase in poverty. In this sense, the report warns that the aforementioned factors increase food insecurity and hunger due to the difficulty of affording nutritious food.

Due to the complexity and multidimensionality of the problem, ECLAC, FAO and WFP consider that responses should be multilateral and multilevel, addressing not only economic factors but also climate change, sustainable development, inequality and poverty. Thus, in the first place, they propose not restricting international trade in food and fertilizers; increasing intra-regional food trade; improving market transparency by providing information on inputs, production and strategic food reserves to avoid speculation and increase predictability; creating an alternative financing fund for food imports; and diversifying food suppliers and varieties.

The organizations also consider the role of the State to be fundamental in containing inflation and guaranteeing access to basic products and services. Thus, they encourage government intervention to strengthen social protection, prioritizing vulnerable sectors. In this regard, they urge governments to expand coverage or increase the amounts of social programs to contain inflation, citing examples such as Argentina, Brazil and Chile, which have implemented cash transfer programs. It also highlights other in-kind transfer initiatives, such as the delivery of food and vouchers; school feeding and community center programs; and promotion and support for agricultural production.

Next steps

In order for the governments of the region to follow the lines of action proposed by ECLAC, FAO and WPF, the organizations call for regional food security initiatives to be used as a basis for national initiatives. They mention the possibility of providing technical assistance to vulnerable countries through a working group led by the CELAC with a view to implementing the Plan for Food Security, Nutrition and Eradication of Hunger 2025. In addition, understanding the budgetary restrictions that afflict the countries, this group should also cooperate in seeking private investment to provide institutional assistance and ensure the use of local resources.

Engagement Opportunities

McDonalds could join public sector efforts to consider the recommendations set out in the report. These opportunities, which could arise in both the executive and legislative branches, including initiatives in the framework of regional organizations, could involve the donation of nutritious food, advocacy in vulnerable communities, technical assistance, promoting healthy eating campaigns and other lines of action that position the company as an agent committed to good nutrition.