ACTION has been making progress on two fronts

We have been hard at work trying to get a resolution through EuroLat, the parliamentary assembly that contains both representatives of the European Parliament and of the various regional parliaments in Latin America (such as PARLACEN, PARLANDINO…..).

The resolution will be voted on later this year, but we already have a statement of support from the co-presidents of EuroLat.

The Montevideo Declaration by the Co-Presidents of the Euro-Latin American Parliamentary Assembly (EuroLat) of 21 September 2016 runs as follows:

On food price volatility and food reserves  

Para 32. Recommend adopting, particularly in the context of climate change, a food and nutrition security-based approach to support sustainable agriculture and taking measures benefiting family and community agriculture. Encourage the regional organisations in LAC to set up food banks and develop pilot programmes for food reserves with a view to reducing volatility and keeping food prices at a level that is affordable for all consumers. Acknowledge, further, that too much food is wasted during both the production and consumption phases, and that policies should therefore be drawn up to discourage such wastefulness among producers, vendors and consumers.

ACTION is particularly concerned with the proposal highlighted in bold type. We have managed to win acceptance of the view that a system of reserves reduces price volatility and therefore ensures that prices do not become unaffordable, the prelude to most food crises.

At the same time ACTION has been asked by the OECS (Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States) to prepare a feasibility study for a regional food reserve under OECS management. The OECS is a grouping of nations that has been in existence for well over a generation (as their logo shows). Arguably these micro-states in the Eastern Caribbean have a particular need for a regional reserve given their small and scattered nature and their exposure to climate change. A representative of ACTION will be going to the Caribbean in order to develop the scheme further.

These developments show that we are making progress, particularly in Latin America and the Caribbean. We are also making progress – from a Brussels perspective – within the European Parliament where we have always enjoyed support from across the party spectrum.

What we hope now is that the interest in a regional food reserve from outside the EU will have some kind of impact inside it – particularly in the corridors of DEVCO (the aid agency of the EU).

It is our hope that the logic of food reserves will eventually impose itself even on those who are liable to wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, clutching the bedclothes and screaming: ‘Butter mountains! Wine lakes! Are they really coming back?!’

Our task (among others) is to allay these fears. We want to interest the European Commission in a proposal which is sustainable – unlike so many other responses to food shortages (such as giving away food in an emergency) which are not sustainable. A food reserve has every chance of being financially self-supporting after start-up costs have been accounted for.

We hope to develop these themes further at another Global Lunch in the Spring.

In the meantime, we would welcome any suggestions, not least concerning possible donors for our food reserve proposals. Please do not hesitate to offer your own comments and recommendations. We have more people following our activities now, and it would be good to hear some proposals from them – I’m sure we need them!