Rome is home to the main UN agencies tasked with food security, agriculture and sustainable development: the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO); the World Food Programme (WFP); the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and together are referred to as the Rome agri-food hub.
Rome is also the location of Bioversity International, another international body that promotes protection of biodiversity and genetic resources as an integral part of food security and sustainable development.
Although organized as autonomous and distinct entities, with specific mandates that determine their respective responsibilities and activities, they pursue complementary objectives, sharing a common vision: the fight against hunger and poverty, with particular attention to rural development. Moreover, confirming the centrality of agriculture and the special expertise of these organizations, Rome is also home to the headquarters of the High Level Task Force on the World Food Crisis, set up by the Secretary General of the United Nations in 2008, and the Committee for World Food Security, a multi-stakeholder platform whose secretariat comprises officials from the FAO, the WFP, and IFAD.
The Rome Hub and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
WFP, FAO, IFAD, with different tasks and methods, are united by their focus on the issue of food security and the goal of improving the nutritional status of populations worldwide: the FAO as an agency of agricultural knowledge and development; the IFAD as an investment fund for rural areas; the WFP for humanitarian and development assistance.
The Permanent Representation’s increasing interaction with organizations such as the IDLO for the promotion of the rule of law and development, and Bioversity International as a global research centre for the development of agricultural biodiversity, is an added value and ensures a multi-sectoral approach to food security, nutrition and sustainable agricultural development.
Encouraging interaction among UN agencies in Rome and civil society, the private sector, and scientific and research institutions creates an opportunity for building a multi-player environment in which different and sometimes varying interests can be addressed effectively to achieve shared objectives at national, regional and global level. They are integrated and indivisible and balance the three dimensions of sustainable development: the economic, social and environmental.
The Rome agri-food hub is comprised of the three UN agencies (FAO, IFAD and WFP) and Bioversity International. It focuses on the themes of reducing poverty and hunger, and promoting sustainable agriculture and development. With the adoption of Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development, on 25 September 2015, the 193 member states of the United Nations set new global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to be implemented over the next 15 years to pursue and surpass Millennium Development Goals, adopted in 2000. Agenda 2030 has 17 Goals and 169 Targets for the integration of various nutrition and agriculture sustainable development aspects addressing food security, nutrition and agriculture issues, to create the backdrop within which to improve agricultural returns while respecting the environment and guaranteeing food for all.
The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) demonstrate the scale and ambition of this new universal Agenda. The SDGs seek to build on the Millennium Development Goals and complete what these did not achieve. They seek to realize the human rights of all and to achieve gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.
The new Global Goals cover more ground, with ambitions to address inequalities, economic growth, decent jobs, cities and human settlements, industrialization, oceans, ecosystems, energy, climate change, sustainable consumption and production, peace and justice.
The new Goals are universal and apply to all countries, whereas the MDGs were intended for action in developing countries only.
The most important SDGs for the Agencies of the Rome Hub are:
SDG 1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere (support by FAO)
SDG 2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture (support by WFP, FAO, IDLO, BIODIVERSITY, UNHRD and CFS)
SDG 4: Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning (IDLO)
SDG 5: gender equality (FAO WFP IDLO)
SDG 6: Ensure access to water and sanitation for all (FAO, BIO)
SDG 10: Reduce inequality within and among countries (IDLO)
SDG 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts (WFP, BIO)
SDG 15: Sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation, halt biodiversity loss (BIO)
SDG 16: Promote just, peaceful and inclusive societies (IDLO)
SDG 17: Revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development (WFP)
The promotion of food security, with special reference to sustainable rural development, has always been an important priority for Italian development cooperation. The three agencies of the Rome Hub, plus Bioversity International and the IDLO, actively engage in addressing the global challenges raised by the SDGs, each according to its comparative advantage, but with the understanding that greater cooperation is increasingly necessary for making the most effective joint efforts.
The Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2), held in Rome on 19–21 November 2014, recognized the global issue of malnutrition as a priority issue. The Rome Declaration on Nutrition, drafted by the Conference, contains a list of commitments in which nutrition is considered a cross-sectoral issue, to be addressed in a comprehensive, inclusive and sustainable approach. The priority battle will be against modern food paradoxes in which developing countries suffer hunger, and countries north and south are struggling with weight and obesity issues.
The Framework for Action annexed to the Declaration contains 60 voluntary policy actions to be implemented as effectively as possible at national level and includes all aspects of nutrition such as health, agriculture, food systems, education, social protection.
Expo Milano 2015 played a strategic role in helping to deliver on the commitments made by states in the Rome Declaration on Nutrition. Giving resonance to the theme of ensuring global food security and nutrition for all, the Rome Hub and the Milan Expo brought together pledges from various players in the Zero Hunger Challenge, launched in 2012 by the General Secretary Ban Ki Moon during the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development, under the leadership of the United Nations. The challenge aims to achieve a world free from hunger where it is equally possible to meet the growing demand for food and to face new environmental challenges.
The Milan Charter, the legacy of Italy’s World Expo legacy, decreed a tangible, collective commitment from governments, civil society, businesses, universities, international organizations, and citizens to address the Zero Hunger Challenge and achieve sustainable development objectives defined by Agenda 2030.
The three agencies of the Rome Hub, plus Bioversity International and the IDLO, actively engage in addressing the global challenges raised by the SDGs, each according to its comparative advantage, but with the understanding that greater cooperation is increasingly necessary for making the most effective joint efforts.
For this reason, Italy leads an action to bring greater and more institutionalized synergy among RBAs, with the dual aim of avoiding overlap and achieve a greater joint impact on the ground.