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Press Release 00/64

"WORLD FOOD SUMMIT: FIVE YEARS LATER" INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE TO REVIEW PROGRESS IN FIGHT AGAINST HUNGER


Rome, 28 November 2000 - The Member countries of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) have endorsed the Director-General's proposal to hold a "World Food Summit: five years later" during the next session of the FAO Conference in November 2001, the Organization announced today.

FAO Director-General Dr. Jacques Diouf proposed the meeting to review progress in implementing the World Food Summit Plan of Action five years after that Summit, held in Rome in November in 1996, where 186 countries, 112 of them represented by their Head of State or Government or their depute, pledged to cut by one half the number of 800 million hungry people by 2015.

FAO's governing Council unanimously supported "a reaffirmation of commitment to the objectives of the 1996 World Food Summit, and of the need to intensify efforts to reach the Summit's target by 2015." It recognised that the Director-General's intention was to mobilize political will to fulfill the undertakings made in Rome in 1996.

Council members agreed that it was appropriate and desirable that the review be carried out at the highest political level and include the participation of civil society. The Director-General announced that he would invite Heads of State or Government to the meeting, and this was also supported by the Council.

In a statement to the Council, Dr. Diouf said that the present state of food insecurity in the world "requires action beyond business as usual", adding that several factors have created "an environment that is making it difficult to achieve the goals of the World Food Summit."

He noted that agricultural production increased by only 1.2 percent in 2000, as against 2 percent in 1999. At the same time, "the number of hungry people is being reduced only by 8 million per year instead of the 20 million necessary to achieve the goals of the World Food Summit." Dr. Diouf stressed that "the commitment in terms of Official Development Assistance (ODA) to agriculture is still 6 percent below the figures of 1990".

Dr. Diouf said that "a number of problems - human-made and natural disasters - are leading to a situation where the number of people affected by these disasters has increased from 52 million in 1999 to 62 million in 2000." He continued: "We need to react and involve the highest political levels of our countries to face this situation."

According to FAO, unless extra efforts are made to accelerate progress in the fight against hunger, the World Food Summit goal of cutting by one half the number of undernourished to 400 million by 2015 will not be achieved before 2030, that is 15 years later.

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For further information, please contact FAO media relations office tel.: 0039.06.57053625, or consult website http://www.fao.org

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