Good Governance Is the Only Real Way to Provide Food Security

Good Governance Is the Only Real Way to Provide Food Security
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry delivers remarks at the Milan Expo in Milan, Italy, Oct. 17, 2015 (State Department photo).

Expo Milan, a World’s Fair whose central theme was feeding the planet, officially closed its doors on Oct. 31, after six months that saw 20 million visitors pass through this once swampy area on the outskirts of the city’s industrial center. For Italy, the expo was a huge financial gamble that seems to have paid off. Having emerged from the 2008 recession and political crisis across the eurozone, the government was seeking to put a fresh face on the country’s national brand, already associated with great food and wonderful tourist sites.

But Expo Milan was more than an exercise in public diplomacy at its best. It reflected a shared concern about global food security among the participating countries. The pavilions presented the challenge of providing adequate food and water to feed the world’s population, which is expected to grow from 7 to 9 billion people by 2050. A recurring theme was climate change and the political realities and possibilities it has created—vast migrations, resource conflicts, megacities—to say nothing of the effort to reach a grand consensus on how to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions, partially caused by agricultural practices, that endanger all species on earth.

Even as the expo on food security took place, Europe was experiencing a migration of refugees from Syria and other conflict zones that has continued to overwhelm its capacity to provide adequate food and temporary housing. With hundreds of thousands of refugees flooding into Europe this year, the issue of how to feed and house this mobile population is taking center stage. It is also a portent of things to come, as conflicts arising from resource scarcity, climate-induced migration and bad governance are likely to increase in the next two decades.

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