Reset the Table Essay Series

2020 has been a year of reckoning for the global food security community. Covid-19 is front and center: hunger is spiking in vulnerable communities hit hardest by the health and economic crises. But predating the pandemic are long-term trends that paint a bleak picture: we are losing the global fight against hunger and malnutrition. 

Now is the time to reassess. The causes and measures of hunger, malnutrition, and sustainable food systems are evolving. While our current challenges call for new approaches, the United States has retreated from its longtime role as a global leader in agriculture and food security.

CSIS is pleased to introduce Reset the Table, a project targeting today’s challenges to global food security and calling for renewed U.S. leadership at the table. Reset the Table aims to bring in new information, new themes, and new voices to find solutions to today’s challenges. We welcome you to pull up a seat and add your own voice to our discussions.

Week One: Trade


It Is Time for the United States to Again Show Leadership at the WTO

The challenges of meeting future food needs will require a concerted effort from governments to improve the functioning of food and agricultural markets. The United States has the responsibility to lead the world to a more open and fair trading system.

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Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images

Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images



Why the United States and Africa Should Lead a Collaborative, Rules-Based Approach to Food Security

There is a unique opportunity for the United States to set a new standard for engagement with Africa on trade, with food security as a natural focal point. And deeper U.S.-African trade ties could pave the way for a global approach on trade and food security.

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Photo: ISSOUF SANOGO/AFP via Getty Images

Photo: ISSOUF SANOGO/AFP via Getty Images


Week Two: Nutrition


Three Billion People Cannot Afford Healthy Diets. What Does This Mean for the Next Green Revolution?

The global poverty line is $1.90 per person per day. It costs $3.75 per day, at minimum, to meet baseline dietary requirements for health. What needs to shift?

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Photo: DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/AFP via Getty Images

Photo: DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/AFP via Getty Images



Making Healthy Diets Accessible: The Covid-19 Recovery Calls for Moving beyond Hunger

Adequate nutrition is not only a product of nutritious foods, but also of well-functioning food systems. Food-systems inequities stand in the way of achieving global food security in 2020—and beyond.

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Photo: NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP via Getty Images

Photo: NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP via Getty Images


Week Three: Water


Agriculture’s Achilles’ Heel: Water Insecurity Is the Greatest Threat to Sustaining Global Food Production

Expanding food production is critical to sustaining human health, economic productivity, and overall peace and security. How can the U.S. government integrate water into all our efforts to ensure food security?

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Photo: SANJAY KANOJIA/AFP via Getty Images

Photo: SANJAY KANOJIA/AFP via Getty Images



The Human Experience of Water Security and What It Means for Food Security

New data fills a gap in our understanding of water and food—the relationship of water security to food security at the household level. How are they linked, and how should this inform U.S. policies and programs?

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Photo: /AFP via Getty Images

Photo: /AFP via Getty Images


Week Four: Urbanization


Private Sector Solutions to Urban Food Insecurity

The vulnerability of cities is front and center during the pandemic. How can companies, governments, and the nonprofit sector work together to improve food security in urban areas?

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Photo: SIMON MAINA/AFP/Getty Images

Photo: SIMON MAINA/AFP/Getty Images



Growing Cities, Growing Food Insecurity: How to Protect the Poor during Rapid Urbanization

The unique characteristics of life in urban areas make the urban poor particularly vulnerable to food insecurity and require programs and policies tailored to their specific needs.

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Photo: PRAKASH SINGH/AFP/Getty Images

Photo: PRAKASH SINGH/AFP/Getty Images


Week Five: Food Safety


‘If It Isn’t Safe, It Isn’t Food’: Building Food Safety into Global Food Security Efforts

Food safety threatens nutrition for millions in low- and middle-income countries. How can individuals, markets, and governments help make food safe?

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Photo: FADEL SENNA/AFP/Getty Images

Photo: FADEL SENNA/AFP/Getty Images



Covid-19, Food Systems, and Wild Animals

We need to reframe the zoonotic disease problem as a food system problem and invest in better means to segregate high-risk animals from humans and human food.

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Photo: STR/AFP/Getty Images

Photo: STR/AFP/Getty Images


Week Six: Humanitarian Assistance


The U.S. Government Must Continue Leading on Overseas Humanitarian Aid. The World Depends on It. Literally.

The major challenge, today and always, is funding. In 2020, the world’s food needs have outstripped the World Food Programme’s resources due to “the three Cs”—conflict, Covid-19, and climate.

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Photo: ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images

Photo: ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images



Beyond Food Aid: Priorities to Address Humanitarian Food Crises

With mounting famine concerns in Nigeria, Yemen, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and parts of the Sahel, the United States must make policy and programmatic changes—and elevate peacebuilding alongside development and relief efforts.

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Photo: ASHRAF SHAZLY/AFP/Getty Images

Photo: ASHRAF SHAZLY/AFP/Getty Images


Week Seven: Climate Change


The Nature of Agriculture: Why Food Systems Must Be Part of a Solution for People and Planet

Agriculture can contribute to climate change, but it can be a part of the solution if we act now to shift how we produce, transport, market, and consume food.

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Photo: ERIC LALMAND/BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images

Photo: ERIC LALMAND/BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images



A Biden Climate Policy for Agri-Food Systems Must Confound Traditional Policy Categories If It Is Going to Work

President-elect Biden could build a coalition around a comprehensive and bipartisan “Green New Plan.” This policy for climate and agri-food systems would have domestic and international applications.

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Photo: EVA HAMBACH/AFP via Getty Images

Photo: EVA HAMBACH/AFP via Getty Images


Week Eight: U.S. Leadership


New Crisis, New Challenges, Same Mission: Reasserting U.S. Leadership in the Global Fight against Hunger

With bipartisan support in Congress, the United States led the global response to the 2007-08 food security crisis. Today’s global food crisis is even deeper, requiring leadership and creativity to wage the next phase of the global fight against hunger and malnutrition.

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Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images



Helping Our Neighbors: U.S. Leadership Promotes Partnerships, Saves Lives in Global Fight against Hunger

U.S. global food security programming helps advance core U.S. values, strengthen U.S. alliances, and build new economic partnerships—key U.S. national security objectives that are increasingly important in the face of China’s growing influence in the developing world.

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Photo: SAFIN HAMED/AFP/Getty Images

Photo: SAFIN HAMED/AFP/Getty Images