The EESC issues between 160 and 190 opinions and information reports a year.
It also organises several annual initiatives and events with a focus on civil society and citizens’ participation such as the Civil Society Prize, the Civil Society Days, the Your Europe, Your Say youth plenary and the ECI Day.
The EESC brings together representatives from all areas of organised civil society, who give their independent advice on EU policies and legislation. The EESC's326 Members are organised into three groups: Employers, Workers and Various Interests.
The EESC has six sections, specialising in concrete topics of relevance to the citizens of the European Union, ranging from social to economic affairs, energy, environment, external relations or the internal market.
Food security concerns us all, because it is about the earth's resources, which we all share and use, and because food is vital for life. That’s why we need to ensure that everybody in the world has enough food to eat or the resources and means to grow their own food.
Today, 16 October, is World Food Day. For us in the wealthy Europe it is a day to reflect and to consider what we can do to contribute to a change. The facts are startling:
870 million people do not have enough to eat and 98 percent of them live in developing countries.
Almost 15% of the population among developing countries is undernourished.
One out of four children - roughly 146 million - in developing countries is underweight.
Women make up a little over half of the world's population, but they account for over 60 percent of the world’s hungry. (statistics from World Food Programme www.wfp.org)
Among the Millennium Development Goals which the United Nations have set for the 21st century, halving the proportion of hungry people in the world is top of the list. We were making good progress in the 1980s and the 1990s, but then progress began to level off between 2000 and 2010.
We have to find a way to get back on track!
The EESC has had food security high on its agenda for many years now, and our work has a vision: Food for everyone - towards a global deal. I believe there is enough land, water and technology to grow food for everyone. However, over the past few years, prices have been more volatile than they have been for decades. This is bad for farmers and even worse for consumers; especially the poor who suddenly can no longer afford to meet their basic food needs.
All global players need to take their responsibility in how to manage natural and financial resources better and invest more strategically. We need solidarity, sharing of good practices, finding common solutions and the will to move towards a more sustainable agriculture.
Food security cannot be achieved at governmental level only, nor at end-user level alone. I therefore believe organised civil society has an important role to play in food security, to advocate, to engage, to inform and to act.
A delegation of EESC members is currently participating in the 39th meeting of the Committee on World Food Security of the FAO, in order to exchange views and learn more about food security. The main topics discussed are food security and climate change, and social protection for food security. Both topics are clearly core issues for the EESC and we will continue working on them in the near future, especially through our EESC permanent study group on food security.
Finally, I would like to leave you with a quote by the UN´s Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon: “In a world of plenty, no one – not a single person – should go hungry”.