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The Principles for Responsible Investment in Agriculture and Food Systems

On 15 October, the member states of the Committee on World Food Security at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) unanimously adopted the Principles for Responsible Investment in Agriculture and Food Systems.

More than 821 million people worldwide are starving and 2 billion people are suffering from malnutrition. Public and private investment in the agricultural sector and the entire value-added chain are therefore urgently requied in many parts of the world in order to sustainably improve the food situation. But this investment must be made in a responsible manner in order to serve this aim; for the first time, there is now a body of regulations to ensure this.

Investments should benefit the people in developing and threshold countries

The aim of the so-called RAI Principles (Principles for Respondible Investment in Agriculture and Food Systems) is to ensure that investments benefit the people in developing and threshold countries. The Principles are the result of a multi-annual consultation and negotiation process of the states, with the extensive participation of both industry and civil society, within the FAO committee on World Food Security.

In contrast to the elaboration of other guidelines on the structuring of investments, representatives of small farmers, fishermen and workers in the agricultural sector, i.e. those directly affected by food security, as well as private investors and foundations, this time actually sat at the table with the state representatives. This large group of participants provides a high degree of legitimacy to the Principles and sets them apart from other international instruments intended to structure investment.

Germany manages to have important food-security aims enshrined

The Federal Government of Germany supported the work on the principles from the very start and was able, during the course of the negotiations, to have some of its key food-security aims enshrined in the Principles. The Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) has for many years lent its support to realising the right to food on a global scale and has been committed to elaborating new guidelines and standards under international law that describe the duties of states and the responsibilities of private actors arising from the human right to food.

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