On May 19, the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS) at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) began multi-stakeholder negotiations intended to finalize the Principles for Responsible Agricultural Investment (RAI)—a set of critical principles that can help guide national regulations, global corporate social responsibility initiatives, and individual contracts covering all types of investment in agriculture. The RAI principles were developed through a broad, inclusive multi-stakeholder process, involving governments, civil society and the private sector.
The United States Government—through a broad inter-agency group, involving the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the U.S. Department of State (DOS), the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), the U.S. Department of Agriculture Foreign Agriculture Service (USDA FAS) and the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR)—is committed to making progress toward finalized RAI principles. USAID Land Tenure and Property Rights Division Chief, Dr. Gregory Myers, is leading the U.S. delegation for the negotiations.
The United States Mission to the UN Agencies in Rome welcomed the ongoing negotiations with the following press release:
The United States is pleased to participate in negotiations on the Principles for Responsible Agricultural Investment (RAI) this week as part of the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS) at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) in Rome. These multi-stakeholder negotiations are intended to finalize critical principles that can help guide national regulations, global corporate social responsibility initiatives, and individual contracts covering all types of investment in agriculture.
With the world population expected to reach nine billion people by the year 2050, FAO estimates that we will need to increase agricultural production by 60 percent to ensure that everyone is fed. “The task of ensuring enough food for our growing population is too large for governments and public-sector organizations alone,” notes U.S. Ambassador to the UN Agencies in Rome, David Lane. “We must engage the private sector more effectively—including smallholder farmers themselves—to promote much needed private sector investment that will contribute to achieving better food security and nutrition outcomes.”
The United States believes that RAI can provide a clear, practical and predictable guiding framework for investment in agriculture that is pro-growth as well as pro-poor. According to USAID Land Tenure and Property Rights Division Chief, Dr. Gregory Myers, who is leading the U.S. delegation for the RAI negotiations, “An increasing number of private sector firms are taking steps to improve corporate practices related to agricultural investments, especially those involving large-scale land transactions. Yet, many companies still lack a clear understanding of what exactly these practices should entail. For that reason, the U.S. is pleased that the global community has come together to develop clear guidance through a common set of voluntary principles that reflect best practice in responsible agricultural investment.”
CFS negotiations on the RAI Principles began on May 19. The RAI will build on the accomplishments achieved with The Voluntary Guidelines for the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries, and Forests in the Context of National Food Security, which were unanimously adopted by the CFS two years ago this month through a broad and inclusive consultation process involving civil society, the private sector, and governments, that is the hallmark of the CFS. The RAI Principles promise to be an equally important tool for addressing global food security.