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NTS Bulletin

NTS Bulletin June 2012

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NTS VIEWPOINT

The G8 food security alliance: Passing big bucks or ‘the’ buck?

In what appears to be a major step forward for cooperation on food security at the multilateral level, the G8 launched the multi-billion dollar New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition on 18 May 2012. However, while the efforts of the G8 countries to prioritise food security have been praised, criticisms have emerged – particularly in non-governmental organisation (NGO) circles – about several aspects of the initiative.

The initiative will focus its efforts in Africa, where it aims to ‘reduce hunger and lift tens of millions of people from poverty’. A key feature of the alliance is its cross-sectoral assembly, which includes not only donor countries and organisations, but also several African leaders and 45 major agribusiness companies. The overarching strategy is to develop country-led plans for agricultural reform and investment, which the private sector and donor countries will fund. More than USD3 billion has already been pledged for the initiative.

Doubts have coalesced around concerns over its top-down, corporate-heavy approach. There are worries that the strong private sector involvement could mean profits being prioritised ahead of the food security and livelihood needs of the region’s millions of smallholder farmers.

Others have questioned whether the G8 is the appropriate multilateral body to oversee such a major initiative, given its great economic power but lack of representativeness, its being accountable for less than one in seven of the world’s inhabitants. The G20 would have provided for a more inclusive representation and cross-regional strategy, given that some of its members are themselves tackling major food security challenges.

Beyond state-level representation, some argue that civil society should have been invited to participate in the alliance, in particular to offer localised expertise, implementation and communication. It was similarly noted that smallholder farmers, whose well-being is key to African food security, are not represented with a voice in the initiative.

Food security thought leaders had predictably called on members to tackle key issues ahead of the G8 Summit, but perhaps most resonant was their plea for the G8 to reinstate their commitment to existing initiatives. Critics were disappointed that there was no mention of the pledge towards food security efforts made by G8 countries in 2009. It is estimated that just 22 per cent of the USD22 billion promised for an extensive sustainable agricultural development strategy has materialised since the announcement three years ago. Several members were praised, however, for committing to a combined USD1.2 billion to the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program at the 2012 Summit.

While the G8’s focus on food security is widely appreciated, some members of the international NGO community see the group’s shift from a bottom-up focus on sustainable agriculture to transformation driven by the private sector as fundamentally ‘passing the buck’ on global hunger. Attention will now be focused on what multilateralism can deliver to the world’s hungry at the G20 summit in Los Cabos in June.

Contributed by Sally Trethewie.

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CLIMATE CHANGE, ENVIRONMENTAL SECURITY AND NATURAL DISASTERS

News & Commentaries

Selected Publications

Based on a review of the equity and cost-effectiveness literature and relevant policy documents, this paper concludes that a pure economic definition of cost-effectiveness is in contradiction with equity. However, trade-offs between equity and cost-effectiveness can be reduced if relative wealth savings, and other indicators, e.g., human health, are used as indicators for cost-effectiveness. The inclusion of these latter indicators would also be essential in addressing non-traditional security issues.

This publication presents the results of a survey of various stakeholders in the forestry sector. Questions focused on the factors influencing the ability of forest managers to respond to climate change, and covered the following areas: impact of climate change on forests, importance of climate change, national climate change laws and regulations, climate change-related adaptation and mitigation responses, capacities and support to undertake climate change adaptation and mitigation, and relevance of climate change guidelines for forest managers.

This report presents country-specific case studies that illustrate the problems, solutions and opportunities related to peatland management. It provides information on the management and finance options available to achieve emissions reduction and enhance ecosystem services. It thus serves as a useful handbook for policymakers and those with technical backgrounds.

This online resource aggregates the coverage by the IISD Reporting Services of the recent UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn, including its daily web coverage and reports, as well as a summary and analysis of the meeting.

This edition of the NTS Alert discusses the prospects for the upcoming UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) and puts forth the suggestion that, rather than top-down agreements, the greatest contributions of the Rio+20 may be in terms of facilitating multi-sector collaborations at national and subnational levels.

Events & Announcements

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ENERGY AND HUMAN SECURITY

News & Commentaries

Selected Publications

The sharp fall in the natural gas prices has led some to question the necessity of large-scale investments in renewable energy. Jeffrey Ball argues that the new dynamics justify reforming rather than abandoning nuclear energy. Further, renewable energy such as wind and solar power would have to be made more economically competitive.

This paper examines the need and prospects for nuclear energy in Asia. It argues that Asian countries’ rapidly expanding demand for energy makes diversification necessary for ensuring energy security in the region. The Fukushima nuclear crisis raises justifiable concerns regarding nuclear safety but will not reverse the development of nuclear energy in Asia.

Events & Announcements

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FOOD AND HEALTH SECURITY

News & Commentaries

Selected Publications

This paper argues that beyond food security objectives alone, reformation and restructuring of China’s agricultural sector will have a significant impact on economic, environmental and social progress. Three major issues plaguing China’s economy are low domestic consumption in rural areas, environmental degradation from agriculture and rural-urban income inequality. Reformation of China’s agricultural sector should include the prioritisation of domestic and regional agricultural specialisations according to comparative advantage, and the liberalisation of agricultural trade.

McGill University has organised a global food security conference annually since 2008. This report summarises the conference findings from the past four years. It also provides an analysis of the drivers of food insecurity, which include under-investment in the agricultural sector, water scarcity, slowing crop yield growth, low reserves and crop failures, population growth, consumption patterns, oil prices and biofuel production. The report provides a comprehensive framework for building food security solutions.

A regional rice futures market hosted by Singapore has been proposed, to improve rice price stability and price discovery, as well as to serve as a tool for risk management. The RSIS Centre for NTS Studies hosted an Expert Working Group Meeting in March 2012 to discuss the feasibility of this proposal. This policy brief summarises these experts’ opinions, which were divided on the viability of a rice futures market and its impact on food security.

Events & Announcements

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INTERNAL AND CROSS-BORDER CONFLICT

News & Commentaries

Selected Publications

This paper examines the challenges facing Burmese refugee women in New Delhi. It departs from traditional constructions of refugee women as merely powerless victims of displacement, arguing that they also regenerate themselves as socio-political and historical actors who act for refugees’ rights and women’s rights. Despite the self-empowering efforts of the refugee women, protection and support from external actors are also needed but not sufficient at the moment.

This article reviews the democratisation process in Singapore and Malaysia, both of which have had a strong ruling party for decades. As stability is considered the top priority in the two countries, prospects for further democratisation hinge on the perception that democracy and stability can be reconciled.

Events & Announcements

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TRANSNATIONAL CRIME

News & Commentaries

Selected Publications

This report observes that criminal and terrorist organisations generally rely on well-connected middlemen to assist in moving a product and transferring payments. Whereas their clients may be motivated by ideology or political ambitions, these middlemen are more often driven by economic incentives. The report concludes that a more node- or fixer-centric understanding of transnational organised crime and terrorist networks can help identify and disrupt key elements of the pipelines that often deal with more than one group simultaneously.

This study found that USD63 billion was lost to pirated software around the world in 2011, an increase from the USD58 billion reported in 2010. Losses in the US alone were estimated at USD9.7 billion and the countries of the European Union at USD14 billion. Emerging economies were found to be decisively outpacing mature markets in the rate of growth of personal computer (PC) software piracy. This report suggests ways to halt software piracy.

This study found that around 36 per cent of anti-malarial drugs analysed in Southeast Asia were fake, and a third of samples in sub-Saharan Africa failed chemical testing because they contained either too much or not enough of the active ingredient. The study concluded that a multifaceted approach is needed to define and eliminate criminal production and distribution, and poor manufacturing, of anti-malarial drugs. There is a need to empower national regulatory authorities to protect the global supply of the drug.

Events & Announcements

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You are free to publish this material in its entirety or only in part in your newspapers, wire services, internet-based information networks and newsletters and you may use the information in your radio-TV discussions or as a basis for discussion in different fora, provided full credit is given to the author(s) and the Centre for Non-Traditional Security (NTS) Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS). Kindly inform the publisher (NTS_Centre@ntu.edu.sg) and provide details of when and where the publication was used.

About the Centre:

The Centre for Non-Traditional Security (NTS) Studies of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies was inaugurated by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Secretary-General Dr Surin Pitsuwan in May 2008. The Centre maintains research in the fields of Food Security, Climate Change, Energy Security, Health Security as well as Internal and Cross-Border Conflict. It produces policy-relevant analyses aimed at furthering awareness and building capacity to address NTS issues and challenges in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond. The Centre also provides a platform for scholars and policymakers within and outside Asia to discuss and analyse NTS issues in the region.

In 2009, the Centre was chosen by the MacArthur Foundation as a lead institution for the MacArthur Asia Security Initiative, to develop policy research capacity and recommend policies on the critical security challenges facing the Asia-Pacific.

The Centre is also a founding member and the Secretariat for the Consortium of Non-Traditional Security (NTS) Studies in Asia (NTS-Asia). More information on the Centre can be found at www.rsis.edu.sg/nts.


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