‘Four Years after the World Food Price Crisis: The Governance of World Food Security’

By Nora McKeon, Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung

Food is the most basic of all human needs and collective food security governance has been with us since the dawn of human society. Failure to perform it effectively has inevitably engendered social unrest. The riots in capital cities around the world in late 2007 are reminiscent of the hungry crowds that threatened the life of Roman Emperor Claudius in AD 51 and the bread riots that helped to spark off the French Revolution in 1789. History and common sense tell us that a functioning food system is an indispensable pillar of a stable economy and a society capable of reproducing itself.

Food governance is an increasingly difficult task in a globalised world. On the one hand, it involves multiple layers of decision-making. The capacity of single households to ensure an adequate supply of food for its members is affected by developments from local to global. Increasingly, even nation states are losing control over the factors that determine the food security of their populations. The range of imponderables has widened from acts of God, like the droughts or locusts that appear in the earliest narratives of the human race, or coups by political or military powers, to the impalpable workings of globalised economic forces.

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