Date: 6-8 October 2010
Venue: Australian National University, Canberra, Australia
Between 2005 and 2008, global food prices increased by 83 per cent. The price of wheat rose by 127 per cent, rice by 170 per cent and that of maize tripled. As a result the number of people suffering from chronic hunger reached a historic high of 1.02 billion in 2009, with the Asia Pacific region accounting for 63 per cent (642 million people) of that total. Although the situation improved in 2010 due to a more favourable economic environment and the fall in both international and domestic food prices, the future remains daunting. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) for example forecasted that the average wheat and coarse grain prices over the next 10 years will increase by between 15–40 per cent in real terms compared to the average levels during 1997–2006. These events and projections demonstrate the global nature of the food problem, and underscore the importance of deeper regional cooperation.
To address this growing food problem, the RSIS Centre for Non-Traditional Security (NTS) Studies and the Department of International Relations of the Australian National University (ANU) jointly organised a public forum and workshop titled ‘Securing Food Futures in the Asia Pacific: Evaluating Regional Frameworks for Food Security’ on 6–8 October 2010 at the ANU in Canberra, Australia. The event is co-funded by the Japan Foundation under its Intellectual Exchange Programme and the MacArthur Foundation’s Asia Security Initiative.
Both the public forum and the workshop focused on regional frameworks for addressing food security challenges. In contemporary policy debates, food security has become more complex, multi-scale and interconnected. For some, the focus is on the human security of those who are poor, marginalised and most likely to be food insecure. As food insecurities are no longer just local problems, effective policy responses supported by regional governance arrangements are required. The objectives of the workshop are to:
- Explore and evaluate the regional frameworks on food security of multilateral and regional institutions such as the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
- Identify best practices and gaps in those arrangements.
- Explore ways to strengthen regional cooperation on food security.
This workshop was aimed at improving knowledge of the kinds of regional governance arrangements that are required to guarantee a resilient and secure food system and to protect those who are most vulnerable to food scarcity.
The workshop examined the conceptual framework of food security as well as existing regional initiatives. It also identified a number of issues central to food security such as the impact of climate change on food security, community rights to food security, the relation between issues such as gender and health to food security, the challenges of food security in the fisheries and the agricultural sector in the Asia Pacific region, and the emerging issue of farmland acquisition. The discussion framed the multi-sectoral food security dimension by looking at issues of governance and institutions, the different level of analyses, food security as public goods and types of policy interventions.
Participants included representatives from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), scholars from reputable think tanks and universities such as the APEC Study Centre of the University of Auckland, The Crawford Fund for a Food Secure World Australia, the WorldFish Center, the Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences (JIRCAS) and the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT).
A report on the proceedings of this event is now available.