CIGI Chair of Environmental Global Governance and Professor, Balsillie School of International Affairs
Professor, Department of Environment and Resource Studies, University of Waterloo
TRANSCRIPT: The most important thing that people need to be aware of with respect to the food security situation in the world today is basically, first of all, there’s over a billion people on the planet today who do not have an adequate diet. They’re malnourished; they’re not getting enough to eat. And this number has been rising in recent years rather than falling. And this is particularly troubling, because the Millennium Development Goals set out a goal of halving the number of hungry people by 2015. And rather than working towards the goal – that half number, by the way, would be around 425 million people – we actually have now surpassed one billion. So this is worrying; it’s a very troubling trend. And the second thing people need to know is the reason that happened is that people’s access to food has been hampered in recent years by conditions in the global economy. What we’ve seen is rising and volatile food prices, with particular price spikes in 2008, which have affected people’s ability to access food. And the third thing people need to understand is it’s the developing countries and the world’s poor in particular who are most affected by these changes in the global food economy. And this is because they spend a high percentage of their income on food. In some cases, 50-80% of people’s income is spent on food in some poor countries. So when food prices double, it becomes very obvious why these people are the most vulnerable with respect to the food price rises. So it’s an important issue, because this trend has happened rapidly, and people have not been able to necessarily absorb right away what’s going on. And in fact, in the midst of the price rises, people were very confused about what was happening, and there was an immediate response in the media in particular telling us that we just didn’t produce enough food on the planet to feed everyone. And that’s not necessarily the case. The question here is access and volatile food prices and a very vulnerable population.