LONDON, ENGLAND — The Food Assistance Committee convened for its second formal session on Nov. 12 at the secretariat of the International Grains Council in London, England, under the Chairmanship of Kilian Greter, Federal Office for Agriculture, Switzerland.

The meeting was attended by parties of the convention (Austria, Canada, the E.U., Japan, Switzerland and the U.S.) and signatories (Bulgaria, France and Portugal). Representatives from Brazil, Slovenia, Spain, the World Food Program and the Canadian Food Grains Bank attended as observers.

The committee reviewed the current and prospective food situation in developing countries against the background of recent developments in world markets for grains, rice and oilseeds. Members also provided detailed information on responses to food emergencies, together with planned operations and policy developments. Other items discussed at the meeting included members’ annual commitments under the Convention and steps to expand membership.

The committee elected Roger Mireles, assistant deputy administrator, U.S. Department of Agriculture, as chairman for 2014, and Florika Fink-Hooijer, director, strategy, policy and international cooperation, European Commission, DG ECHO, as vice-chairman.

The session was preceded by a seminar on nutritional interventions on Nov. 11, aimed at exchanging information on activities and best practice, as well as improving the common understanding on global needs and gaps. 

There were presentations from Brazil, Canada, the E.U., Japan, Spain and the U.S., followed by a panel discussion moderated by Mireles. The invited panelists were Barbara MacDonald, senior policy advisor, Canadian Foodgrains Bank, and Alex Rees, head of hunger reduction and livelihoods, Save the Children.

The discussion centered on the importance of addressing severe and moderate acute malnutrition through a multi-sectoral approach, especially focusing on children under five and pregnant and lactating women, with a view to reducing mortality and increasing resilience.