Office of Global Food Security

Our Mission

The Department of State prioritizes food security as an issue of national security. The Department leads and coordinates U.S. diplomatic engagement on food systems, food security, and nutrition in bilateral, multilateral, and regional fora, working closely with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and other departments and agencies. The Special Envoy for Global Food Security serves as the Feed the Future Deputy Coordinator for Diplomacy.

Secretary Blinken – “The truth is soil is literally at the root of many pressing national security challenges that we face…without good soil, crops fail, prices rise, people go hungry. ” World Economic Forum, January 16, 2024

Secretary Blinken: Soil – A Precious Resource

Secretary Blinken – “We’re tackling a lot of challenges around the world, but if we don’t get this right, I actually don’t think anything else really matters.”  UNGA 78, September 20, 2023

Secretary Blinken – Sustainable Food Production Capacity Comes Down to Two Things: Soil and Seeds

Secretary Blinken: On the Global Food Crisis

Secretary Blinken: VACS at the UNSC

In 90 Seconds: A Vision for Adapted Crops and Soils (VACS)

The Vision for Adapted Crops & Soils (VACS), launched by the U.S. Department of State, in partnership with the African Union and the FAO, seeks to adapt agricultural systems – starting with Africa – to the anticipated challenges of climate change. As part of Feed the Future, this initiative seeks to improve soil health and fertility, and strengthen resiliency with nutritious and climate-adapted indigenous crops.

A Conversation on Food Fundamentals

On this podcast, Special Envoy Dr. Cary Fowler discussed the promise of “opportunity crops,” how the Vision for Adapted Crops and Soils is leading to a new way of thinking, and why it’s so important to focus on climate-resilient crops and healthy, fertile soils.

The Rockefeller Foundation hosted a technical workshop with approximately 70 global stakeholders that evaluated an indicative list of nutritious, traditional African crops and assessed their performance under climate change models. This workshop was planned by the VACS Steering Committee (U.S., FAO, AU), and technical partners AgMIP, Havos.Ai, and the African Orphan Crops Consortium.

VACS Phase II Technical Workshop in NYC

The Rockefeller Foundation hosted a technical workshop with approximately 70 global stakeholders that evaluated an indicative list of nutritious, traditional African crops and assessed their performance under climate change models. This workshop was planned by the VACS Steering Committee (U.S., FAO, AU), and technical partners AgMIP, Havos.Ai, and the African Orphan Crops Consortium.

Three people are seated speaking in front of Center for Strategic & International Studies branding.
Special Envoy Fowler and two other people are seated against a wall branded for the Keough School of Global Affairs.

Road to COP28: Agricultural Innovations to Address Climate Change and Food Security

536 consecutive above average months of temperature – now I don’t know if that’s climate change or climate coincidence, but to a farmer it’s the same thing, bad weather, and you have to adapt to it.

2023 Borlaug Dialogue: A Vision for Harnessing Change

“If this is going to succeed, it will not be because a few organizations and individuals have come together to try to make it succeed. It’s going to take you in the audience helping us changing the conversation, changing the discourse.” – Dr. Fowler

Graphic of a tree with different parts of food production appearing in the canopy. Heading reads: "Harnessing Change: October 24-26 | Des Moines, Iowa" Additionally, four speakers are named: "Cary Fowler, U.S. Special Envoy for Global Food Security, U.S. Department of State; Lindiwe Majele Sibanda, CGIAR System Board Chair; Gérardine Mukeshimana, Vice President, International Fund for Agricultural Development; and Cynthia Rosenzweig, 2022 World Food Prize Laureate, Senior Research Scientist, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies"
The Vision for Adapted Crops and Soils: Global Solutions for Food Security. September 20, 6:00 - 8:00 pm, The Rockefeller Foundation. Moderator: Redi Tlhabi, Broadcast Journalist Presenter: Dr. Cary Fowler, State Department Presenter: Dr. Agnes Kalibata, Agra Presenter: Dr. Dilys Maccarthy, AgMIP/University of Ghana Presenter: Dr. Roy Steiner, The Rockefeller Foundation

Global Solutions for Global Food Security at UNGA78

“To strengthen food security and increase resilience, we need the kind of intergenerational and transformative initiatives that we’re proposing today with VACS. For this to happen, which it must, we need a dramatic change in the conversation that we have about food security, a change in dialogue.” – Dr. Fowler

UNGA78 at the Atlantic Council: Future of Food Security in Africa

In terms of agriculture and food security, climate is really the central issue. If you look into the future, you’ll see that there’s a need to produce 50 to 60% more food in Africa by the midcentury. If you factor in the kind of hit that agriculture is going to take because of climate change and some of our major crops – projections are actually in the minus column for some of those crops, that the yield will be even smaller than it is today. So obviously, we have a huge challenge.

Canberra: Crawford Annual Fund and Australian Media

In Canberra, Australia at The Crawford Fund Annual Conference, Dr. Fowler spoke reflectively on lessons learned in food security since 2015. On radio and television, and in print, Dr. Fowler stressed greater investment in agricultural research and development as well as moonshot innovations to meet global food production needs. 

UN Food Systems Summit +2 Stocktaking Moment – Day 2

On day two of the UN Food Systems Summit +2 Stocktaking Moment in Rome, U.S. Special Envoy of Global Food Security Dr. Cary Fowler highlighted $100 million the U.S. government approved to support soil mapping and fertility and called for additional funding and financial mechanisms to continue supporting the resilience crop initiative in Africa.

UN Food Systems Summit – Interview

At the UN Food Systems Summit, Special Envoy Fowler highlighted what we need to do to improve food security, with soil efficiency, crop diversity, and resilient food systems. 

Photo of Dr. Fowler speaking with a woman and the text: "Dr. Fowlers Discusses Getting Back to the Basics on Agricultural Production with Investment in Soils and Seeds"
Dr. Fowler Discusses Getting Back to the Basics on Agricultural Production with Investment in Soils and Seeds

UN Food Systems Summit +2 Stocktaking Moment – Day 1

It’s necessary for us, important for us, to realize the links between soil health and fertility, fertilizer use, a broad range of crops with the goal of providing good nutrition…A prerequisite for increasing fertilizer use in Africa and other places is to build soil health and fertility there. 

El Niño: Its Influence on Global Food Insecurity 

From a food security perspective, I’m most concerned – and we’re keeping a particularly close, watchful eye on Southern Africa, on Central America, and Southeast Asia.    

El Niño is also correlated with an uptick in conflict. Warmer, drier weather reduces economic output and intensifies the competition for scarce resources, especially where you have situations of ethnic fractionalization and inequality.    

Paris: Responding to Food Insecurity

Conflict is both the cause and effect of food insecurity. Most of the food insecure people in the world are caught in this whirlwind of a cycle of conflict and food insecurity. We must come to realize that food security is a national security issue for everyone. 

African Union Strategic Climate Investment Roundtable

The world’s aquifers that supply much water for agriculture are being depleted much faster than they’re being replenished, and the same could be said of the world’s soils. Soil erosion is occurring at a rate of 10 to 100 times greater than soil replenishment and not surprisingly, are most pronounced in some of the areas that are most food insecure. 

VACS Phase I Technical Workshop in Rome

Organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, in partnership with the African Union Commission and the Office of Global Food Security, and through the generous support of the Rockefeller Foundation, approximately 40 global stakeholders convened to identify an initial list of the most important traditional African crops within the five AU economic sub-regions.

Aim for Climate Summit

If you take a step back and view the situation we’re in historically today, I think you would agree with me that agriculture faces an historically unprecedented combination of challenges. At the most fundamental level, those challenges that are in food security really depends on our having fertile soils and depends on having adaptive crops, adapted to climate change, to market conditions.

Roundtable with Japanese Media

60% of the people who are food insecure in the world are living in countries with active conflict….   

You have COVID, conflict, and climate change, historically low stockpiles of grain, trade bans, and fertilizer problems, and water depletion, and high energy prices, essentially almost everything that could go wrong was going wrong. 

Vision for Adapted Crops and Soils Launch

Our work on crops and soils is a key element that will help build resilient food systems. Yes, it’s true. A robust, productive, sustainable food system requires more than soil health. But simply put, there is no such thing as food security or good nutrition without these two fundamental elements: healthy soils and healthy crops. 

2022 Borlaug Dialogue

The current food crisis is multi-causal. COVID. Climate. Conflict. Very high fuel prices, a fertilizer situation, export bans, low – by historical standards – grain stockpiles… On the list of the top 10 most important challenges that we face in regards to food security, climate is 1, 3, 5…because climate changes everything. 

In the future, the best growing seasons of the future will closely resemble the worst of the past. Let that sink in. 

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future