International trade has grown significantly over the past 60 years; the WTO (2008) estimates that between 1950 and 2007, the rate of growth of world trade in real terms was 6.2 percent, compared to 3.8 percent growth in global GDP. The impact of increased world trade cannot be measured simply in terms of economic activity, however; issues like gender equity, health, and nutrition (all key aspects of societal wellbeing) are also affected.
International agricultural trade has been a major headline recently, but as the latest WTO Ministerial Conference proves, disagreement about the best way to conduct such trade remains widespread.
On December 19, the 159 members of the WTO concluded the 10th WTO Ministerial Conference with the signing of a new international trade agreement, the Nairobi Package. The agreement contains several important outcomes on the issue of agriculture and represents the first major achievement by the WTO on this issue since the end of the Uruguay Round talks and the birth of the organization in 1995.
The Doha Development Agenda has long been a stumbling block for WTO trade talks. The Bali WTO made some headway in addressing the agriculture and food security-related issues that have held up previous agreements, but much remains to be done. The following links provide detailed analysis of both the Doha Development Round's history and the Bali Ministerial talks.
In a report to the G20 Development Working Group released in September of last year, FAO and the OECD (with inputs from the Asian Development Bank, IFAD, ILO, IFPRI, and WTO) discussed the vital role that food security plays in the G20’s overall growth agenda. Food insecurity and malnutrition come with a high economic cost, reducing countries’ human capital and decreasing productivity and opportunities for growth.
In 2013, the G20 Leaders’ Declaration included a framework on food and nutrition security (FSN Framework). This Framework was designed to provide the basis for a long-term, integrated, and sustainable food systems approach to food security and nutrition, recognizing that action is needed both within and beyond the agricultural sector.
The Lima UN Climate Conference (Lima COP20 CMP10) was held in December 2014 and set the stage for global policymakers to establish a universal climate change agreement in Paris at the end of this year. Representatives from over 190 countries agreed upon the elements to be addressed by the Paris 2015 conference and achieved a number of “firsts” in international climate discussions.
In 2011, the G20 Agriculture Ministers released an action plan on food price volatility and agriculture to address sustainable increases in agricultural production and productivity.
The G20 Agriculture Ministers met in Istanbul this May to discuss the group’s ongoing efforts on the issue of food and nutrition security. In their final report, the ministers highlighted several important global issues linked to food security, including the impacts of climate change and the need for sustainable food systems, the need to minimize global food loss and waste, and the goal of increasing incomes and job opportunities in rural areas, particularly for women and youth.
The roadmap for the Third International Conference on Financing for Development laid out a series of informal sessions leading up to the conference in July 2015. These sessions included discussion on a wide range of topics related to sustainable development, including: