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Land use protection essential in fight against hunger, UN expert warns

Land use protection essential in fight against hunger, UN expert warns

Protecting the rights of land users from speculation, stepped up production of agrofuels and population growth is vital to combat global hunger and malnutrition, an independent United Nations expert said today.

“Pressures on land are increasing as a result of speculation on farmland, the expansion of agrofuels production, and demographic growth in rural areas,” Special Rapporteur on the right to food Olivier De Schutter noted.

“In this context, moving swiftly towards protecting the rights of land users is vital. The livelihoods of peasants, fishers, pastoralists, and indigenous peoples in particular are threatened on a large scale as a result of the global enclosures movement that we are witnessing.”

Last week, the Committee on World Food Security met in Rome, its first session since it was reformed in light of the 2008 food crisis

The UN-led meeting brought together 123 governmental delegates, 46 international non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and 11 international agencies to identify ways to combat global hunger and malnutrition.

The Committee agreed that volatility was a serious problem that required policy responses, with a high-level panel of experts studying the causes and consequences of price volatility, ways to lessen vulnerability through social and productive safety nets, and the effects of climate change on food security and nutrition.

“This is key for the future,” Mr. De Schutter said. “Climate change and changing weather patterns shall mean more instability in the future. Speculation by commodity index funds on the derivatives markets of agricultural commodities shall worsen the problem. We need both to make agriculture more resilient to these shocks, and to address speculation itself, which destabilizes the markets.”

An unpaid expert, Mr. De Schutter reports to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.