ANNEX VII: CLOSING STATEMENTS
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I must begin by thanking you for having come to this occasion in such numbers and with such motivation.
In spite of your heavy responsibilities, you found the time to participate in this meeting so that 800 million people throughout the world might regain hope for a better future. Very many Heads of State and Government, Deputy Prime Ministers, Ministers and Representatives of Nations came here to work together in the spirit of universal solidarity that characterizes the family of the United Nations. This is confirmation that our efforts in preparing this Summit were not in vain – and I take this opportunity to warmly thank all the FAO staff, at all levels, for the quality and effectiveness of their work to ensure the success of this Summit.
For all of us, these past four days have been an important step towards our common objective: to eradicate hunger from a world that should have banished it long ago. What should have been done to achieve the objective of the 1996 Summit – to halve the number of persons suffering from hunger by the year 2015 – has still not been done. The hungry are almost as numerous today as they were five years ago. This is the dismal reality that led us to convene the World Food Summit: five years later.
Your presence here today, your motivation and your commitment are clear evidence that, beyond the international undertakings, each country will adopt concrete measures to implement the actions set out in the Declaration you have just adopted.
As this Summit closes, I have the great pleasure to announce that 53 Nations and the European Community have taken advantage of the presence, in Rome, of their delegations to sign the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture which was adopted by the Conference of FAO on November 2001; a further seven Nations have already ratified it. I should like to reiterate my appeal for all Governments to sign the Treaty and to undertake the necessary ratification procedures as soon as possible.
You have reached broad consensus on the measures that are needed to accelerate the process of reducing hunger. You have publicly undertaken, before the whole world, to strengthen the political will and the actions that are required if we are to achieve our common objective.
We know that eliminating hunger is not only a moral imperative; we know that investing in the reduction of hunger can only benefit an increasingly interdependent world. It is in the interest of all, rich and poor, to do everything - and quickly - to build a fairer world, to eliminate chronic hunger and its stigmas of despair and resignation.
Let us waste no time in starting this race against time, in putting our commitments into effect and in demonstrating that we will collectively carry the battle against hunger and poverty, in denial of scepticism and self-interest.
I should like to make a few observations before closing the proceedings of this Summit.
As I stressed in my opening statement, and as was reiterated by many speakers, the first good for all human beings is freedom, freedom in all its forms: political freedom, religious freedom, freedom of speech, economic freedom, but above all, freedom from hunger. The right to adequate food comes before all other rights as a person who is hungry is not free. I think this is a very important statement.
The Summit has examined the main causes of the tragedy of hunger: wars - especially civil wars -, the absence of democracy in many countries, the protectionist barriers that prevent the free movement of food products and products of the processing industry, insufficient aid from the most industrialized nations. We have reached the conclusion that no country should be excluded from the global economy. It is only in the global economy that each country will be able to best develop its human capital and its heritage of natural resources. We have stated that the industrialized countries should succeed in allocating 0.7 percent of their GDP to the developing countries and should seek ways of getting their private citizens to provide aid. Efforts in this direction have not been satisfactory. We have suggested how such aid could be realistically provided. In my country, I have said, we want to implement tangible projects: a hospital, a school, a clinic, a dispensary, or a field of wheat or maize - initiatives that will bear testimony to Italy's presence and to the desire of its citizens to help the developing countries. By appealing to our citizens on television, we will be able to launch an activity each month that will genuinely come to something.
We have talked about the need, in a global world, to guarantee the utmost transparency of public accounts; these need to be clear, easy to read by all, including by the international financing organizations that decide to which countries to grant their assistance. I also mentioned that I will be presenting to the G8 meeting in Canada a project with three phases: an experimental phase, a mandatory phase for countries requesting aid and, finally, a third phase with specific partnerships between countries or towns and with concrete objectives. I also outlined the proposal to involve the citizens of the richest countries, whereby, when they buy luxury goods, they leave 2, even 3 percent of the price paid for their purchase to finance concrete initiatives of aid to the developing countries.
We have also heard criticisms levelled at FAO, at its alleged plethora of staff. I think such criticisms apply to all entities that have both resources and people. There is an almost scientific rule whereby it does an entity good to ˇ®slim' every ten years. I therefore think, Mr Diouf, that FAO should shed a little weight. And this is possible, as I have myself noted with the companies that I have founded and managed over the years. It is possible to reduce the staff of a company by 30 percent every ten years and at the same time to gain 10 percent in productivity, despite the staff cut. I think that the international organizations should also be put on such a diet every ten years. Criticisms are not always negative. In any case, they can serve to do better and do more.
In conclusion, we all agree over what needs to be done. The Declaration has been drafted and unanimously approved. It is now time to roll up our sleeves and to act. That was how Mr Kofi Annan ended his statement, as did Mr Diouf. He has just passed me a note reminding me that FAO's staff has been reduced by 30 percent since 1994. So the criticisms have been answered, I am very pleased to say.
On behalf of my country, I should like to thank you for coming. I wish you all a good journey home to the country where you had the good fortune to be born and have the good fortune to live. I hope that all the dreams you hold in your minds and hearts come true. My sincerest wishes. I hope that you will be able to see progress in your countries with your own eyes, and witness an expansion of freedom, democracy and well-being.
Let us hope for a future without war, a future that is more serene.
I especially hope that democracy will prevail over all the ideologies that troubled the past century: the nazism, fascism and communism of diseased humanity. I hope we have understood that humanity is now ready to look to a future in which everyone is assured of the most basic of rights: the right to freedom, particularly freedom from hunger. To all those staying a while in Rome, I wish you an excellent stay; to all those returning home, I wish you an excellent journey. I wish you all the best of health and every happiness.
I declare the World Food Summit: five years later formally closed.