“Food Thinkers: Food Security Governance” with Nora McKeon

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Nora McKeon- Food Security Governance: empowering communities, regulating corporations

When: 13 May 2015, 4-5.30 pm

Nora McKeon

Nora McKeon

About the talk: Today’s global food system generates hunger alongside of land grabs, food waste, health problems, massive greenhouse gas emissions. Nora McKeon’s new book explains why we find ourselves in this situation and explores what we can do to change it. In her talk she will review how the international community (mis)handled food issues since WWII up to the food crisis of 2007-2008, privileging short term national or private interests over long-term public goals of equity and sustainability. She will contrast how actors link up in corporate global food chains – in which producers, consumers and the environment are the losers – and in the local food systems that are considered to be “alternative” but in fact feed most of the world’s population. She will explain how the financial and structural power of corporations, allied to discourse that portrays their approach to meeting the world’s food needs as “modern” and “productive”, allows them to set the rules to their advantage. She will point out the perils of “scientific evidence-based” decision-making when it intrudes on the terrain that properly belongs to political process and value-based debate. The author will describe how people around the world are organizing to protect their access to resources and build better ways of food provision, in what is increasingly referred to as a food sovereignty movement. The United Nations Committee on World Food Security – a uniquely inclusive global policy forum since its reform in 2009 – could be supportive of these efforts in pursuing its mandate to defend the right to food of the world’s population. The talk will conclude with a call to blow the whistle on speculative capitalism by building effective public policy instruments for accountable governance and extending their authority to the realm of regulating markets and corporations.

About the speaker: Nora McKeon studied history at Harvard and political science at the Sorbonne before joining the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations where she directed the organization’s relations with civil society. A major focus of her work was opening FAO up to civil society/social movements, with particular attention to organizations of the small-scale producers who provide most of the world’s food, suffer the most from food insecurity, and yet are most distant from decision-making that affects them.
She now divides her time between research, teaching, consulting and advocacy around food systems, food governance, small-scale farmer movements, and UN-civil society relations. She is technical adviser to the Network of Peasant and Agricultural Producers Organizations of West Africa (ROPPA). She is closely following the current reform of global food governance, particularly the Committee on World Food Security.


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