The 4th Dick de Zeeuw Lecture, September 4, 2014, by Gerda Verburg
Paradigm shift to secure food
The world food system is full of paradoxes. While enough food is being produced to feed everyone on the planet, more than 840 million people are undernourished, among which 165 million children. At the same time one third of all produced food is either lost or wasted. The majority of food-insecure people live in rural areas where most of the world’s food is being produced! Farmers struggle to maintain a profitable livelihood, and are confronted with tightening environmental constraints in the face of climate change. Added to that, they have great difficulty finding successors. These issues affect us all. The problems are well-known, and thousands of programmes and projects have been developed and implemented. But where are the concrete and lasting results?
What is going wrong here? “It’s the economy, stupid!”
Gerda Verburg was born on a dairy farm in the Green Heart of the Netherlands. In 2007 she was appointed Minister of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality. In her period as Minister, she gave priority and special attention to innovative and sustainable agriculture and food security, both at national, EU and international level. After her term as Minister, she was appointed Ambassador/ Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the UN Organisations for Food and Agriculture in Rome (FAO, WFP and IFAD). In October 2013 Gerda Verburg was elected as Chair of the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS). This is a multi-stakeholder committee where governments, civil society, private sector, research institutions and others deal with food and nutrition related topics.