E. Adoption of the World Food Security Compact
164. The Conference noted that the Council at its Eighty-seventh Session had approved the World Food Security Compact as set out in document C 85/23 and had recommended it to the Conference for adoption.
165. In his introduction to this item, the Director-General stated that the Compact was based on the broader concept of world food security adopted by the Conference at its Twenty-second Session, which dealt with three inter-related aspects: namely, expanding production, increasing stability in the flow of supplies, and ensuring access to food by the poor. He emphasized that the Compact crystallized a set of feelings which were widely held throughout the world, and that it was the culmination of efforts by FAO over the past decade to strengthen the basis of world food security. The Director-General recalled that this initiative had received expressions of support from a number of member countries at the highest levels. He further stated that on the occasion of the Fortieth Anniversary of FAO, it was appropriate for the international community to make a moral commitment to strive for world food security.
166. The Conference recalled that the proposal for a World Food Security Compact was put forward by the Director-General to the Committee on World Food Security at its Eighth Session. He further elaborated the proposal at the Committee's Ninth Session. Subsequently, the Committee considered a draft text of the Compact at its Tenth Session. Thereafter, based on a careful review of the elements which were most common in the discussions in the Committee, several improvements had been introduced into the text. Three members dissociated themselves from this text, which was approved by the Council at its Eighty-seventh Session. Another member deplored this attitude, considering it contrary to the spirit of international cooperation. The Conference recognized that the main aim of the Compact was to reaffirm a moral commitment to achieve the ultimate objective of ensuring that all people at all times are in a position to produce or procure the basic food they need. The Conference observed that the Compact was addressed to governments of both developed and developing countries, to non-governmental organizations, and to individuals with a view to mobilizing support to, and actions for, strengthening food security. It noted that the Compact did not involve any new financial or legal commitments and was strictly voluntary in nature.
167. The overwhelming majority of members gave their full support to the text of the Compact as presented. They considered that it set out the moral values and lines of action which should guide governments, non-governmental organizations and individuals in attaining the commonly shared objective of improved world food security and the elimination of hunger and malnutrition. In their view, the Compact was well-balanced in its presentation of the respective responsibilities of developed and developing countries, nongovernmental organizations and individuals. They stressed that the adoption of the Compact, by reaffirming the moral foundation for action, would strengthen the resolve of all people to pursue the objective of food security. It would also provide a fitting proclamation of commitment to this objective, bearing in mind that this year marked the Fortieth Anniversary of the foundation of FAO. Some members stated that they would have preferred further amendments, strengthening several aspects of the draft Compact, and improving the language. One member suggested that in the text of the Compact one should refer to the essential role of the media in sensitizing public opinion on food problems. However, they accepted the text of the Compact as presented in the interest of achieving a consensus and in order to permit its prompt and unanimous adoption.
168. While emphasizing the contributions their governments were making to food security, three members expressed the continued reservations of their governments on the Compact. During the discussion, support was given to the principles underlying the call for a compact, as well as for the inter-related aspects of world food security mentioned by the Director-General in his introduction. These members stated that move consultations should have been held in preparing the Compact, and the text should have been more explicit as to its voluntary, nonbinding nature. They also stated that the Compact was unnecessary to stimulate further action in this field, and that it was unbalanced and unclear regarding obligations of developed and developing countries, the role of food trade and that of (NGOs) in strengthening food security.
169. The Conference adopted the World Food Security Compact as given below:
WORLD FOOD SECURITY COMPACT
Insecurity of food supplies has afflicted mankind throughout history. In modern times, progress In harnessing the forces of nature and in organizing relief for the distressed has mitigated the impact of hunger and malnutrition, but food security has still to reach hundreds of millions of the world's people. More must be done, and quickly.
Food insecurity is not a single, uniform problem. Food shortages are felt at the level of the nation, of the household and of the Individual. There are many different situations in which essential foods may be found lacking, many different causes underlying them, and many different solutions which need to be adopted if food security for all Is to be attained on a lasting basis.
The World Food Security Compact brings together general principles and suggestions for action by governments, organizations and Individuals. Because of the great diversity of circumstances in different areas, actions that are appropriate in one location or situation may not be suitable in another. Measures to strengthen food security must be carefully tailored to match the specific problems they are Intended to resolve.
The governments, organizations and individuals subscribing to the present World Food Security Compact agree to work, In their respective spheres, towards bringing about a higher degree of food security at all levels throughout the world.
II. GENERAL PRINCIPLES
1. World food security is a common responsibility of mankind. The ultimate objective is to ensure that all people at all times are in a position to produce or procure the basic food they need.
2. Achievement of the "fundamental right of everyone to be free from hunger" depends utimately on the abolition of poverty. But the hungry cannot wait. The search for world food security must include immediate steps to help the distressed, as well as longer-term measures to bring about economic and social progress. No one can remain indifferent to the fate of those whose daily food is insecure.
3. The achievement of food security should be an integral objective of economic and social plans. Action should be aimed at three specific goals: attaining desirable levels of food production, increasing the stability of food supply, and ensuring access to food supplies on the part of those in need.
4. Food should not be used as a means of exerting political pressure.
III. ACTION BY GOVERNMENTS
1. Governments carry the primary responsibility for ensuring the food security of their peoples, and for banishing chronic hunger and malnutrition from their territory. They should give this objective an overriding priority.
2. Governments of developing countries should promote domestic food production as the first line of attack on food insecurity. They should avoid, as far as they can, the risks that result from an excessive dependence on food imports, notably for feeding urban populations ' In particular, they should ensure that city-dwellers do not acquire a permanent preference for imported basic foods which cannot be grown domestically.
3. Governments of developing countries should re-examine and, if necessary, change their national policies so as to stimulate food production. They should, in particular, ensure that farmers are given adequate incentives to grow more food. The review should extend to policies outside the agricultural sector but with a bearing on food security, such as demography.
4. Governments of developing countries should make advance arrangements for maintaining food security in times of difficulty, especially when faced with drought or other natural disaster. The measures adopted might include an early warning system to detect the buildup of an emergency, the creation of food reserves where this is feasible, and contingency plans for the distribution of relief supplies.
5. Governments of developing countries should undertake measures for improving the economic situation of population groups which are particularly disadvantaged, including those in remote parts of the country. Rural development activities, oriented specifically towards the needs of the poor, should be promoted with special emphasis on the participation of the small farmer. In general, while maintaining incentives for agricultural production, every encouragement should be given to measures which will increase the purchasing power of the poorest strata of the population, in line with the Programme of Action adopted by the World Conference on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development. Governments should make all efforts so that agricultural work receives a higher status.
6. Governments of developing countries should seek to make cooperative arrangements with each other for the purpose of strengthening food security. The specific activities to be carried out in common might include: regional early warning systems for detecting agricultural emergencies; joint activities to increase the availability of seeds, fertilizers and other inputs in the area; programmes for the control of migrant pests and diseases; the exchange of experience and information and possibly the creation of regional or subregional food reserves.
7. Governments should reaffirm their moral as well as economic and political commitment to cooperation with each other in strengthening global food security.
8. Governments of developed countries, whether they be exporters or importers, should consider the interests of the world as a whole when making their policy decisions on food production, stocks and imports. Similarly, arrangements which insulate domestic consumers from price swings in international markets should not result in increased hardship for the weakest and most vulnerable countries. The overall objective should be the development of a world food system characterized by stability and equity.
9. Emergency food aid and other forms of relief should continue to be provided generously to poorer countries. At the same time increasing importance should be attached to measures, in particular to promote agricultural production, which could prevent such emergencies arising in future.
10. Governments of developed countries should continue to seek more effective ways of helping low-income food-deficit countries to secure their imports of essential food supplies, as well as of fertilizers and other agricultural requisites, in times of difficulty. The problems to be envisaged include a major shortage of supplies on international markets, or an economic crisis in the importing country.
11. For many developing nations, food security also depends on their ability to export agricultural and other products in order to import foodstuffs. This fact should be taken into account by the governments of developed countries in negotiations on trade questions. The objective should thus be to recognise the moral dimension in trade relations with a view to striking an equitable balance between domestic interests and the good of the world as a whole.
12. Governments of developed countries should give a specially high priority to helping developing nations where a major effort is being made to overcome the problems of rural poverty, the principal cause of chronic hunger and malnutrition.
IV. ACTION BY NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS
1. Non-governmental organizations with a concern for world food security can stimulate, support and complement the actions of governments, in developed and developing countries alike. In particular, they can help to create a climate of opinion favouring measures for food security, thus opening the way for additional steps by governments as suggested in this Compact. Furthermore, they can contribute directly, through operational and other activities, towards building up higher levels of food security in various parts of the Third World.
2. Non-governmental organizations can play an increasingly active role in enlightening public opinion about the problems of food security in an inter-dependent world. Besides the immediate challenge of hunger and malnutrition, they can also provide information on important issues relating to food security, such as the impact on the poorer nations of actions taken by the richer nations in the fields of trade, protectionism and economic adjustment.
3. Non-governmental organizations in all parts of the world can take the lead in organizing more frequent people-to-people contacts between countries, especially between countries at different levels of economic development. Such initiatives should aim at increasing mutual understanding, and at opening up avenues for possible cooperation in practical activities.
V. ACTION BY INDIVIDUALS
1. The individual is called upon not only to work for his own food security and that of his family, but also to recognise that he has a sacred obligation to concern himself with food security of those less fortunate than himself. Failure to provide succour when it is needed is a betrayal of man's duty to his fellow men.
2. At the practical level, individuals can play a unique role in keeping public opinion in the richer nations aware of the need for global cooperation in achieving world food security, which is often overshadowed by domestic problems. Individuals of every background can contribute towards building an atmosphere of concern for the world's food problems.
3. It is essential that work in agriculture (including not only the activities of farmers but also the efforts of researchers, extension agents and other professional categories) be given a higher status than it currently receives. Individuals can play a special role in creating a climate of opinion more favourable to work in agriculture and food production.
4. Individual farmers, in every country and climate, provide the indispensable basis for food security. But the farmer is responsible, not only for food production, but also for the conservation of the soil and other natural resources bequeathed by nature and our ancestors to us who are alive today. The farmer, as custodian of the land resource must conserve it for future generations, avoiding practices which result in erosion or other forms of destruction.
5. Individuals everywhere should interest themselves actively in the efforts of governments and organizations to promote development and food security. The concern of individuals creates the groundswell of support needed by non-governmental organizations. The work of these organizations, in turn, helps to mobilize public opinion for action by governments. Without the active interest of the man-in-the-street, little may be achieved. But interest does not mean blind support: criticism can be constructive. The enemy is indifference.
F. Programme for the 1990 Census of Agriculture
170. The Conference reviewed the programme for the 1990 world census of agriculture on the basis of the document presented.
171. The Conference noted that the 1990 world census of agriculture would be the fifth decennial census of agriculture promoted by FAO. Acknowledging the importance of statistics in agricultural planning, the Conference gave its full support to the 1990 world census of agriculture programme.
172. The Conference expressed its satisfaction with the general approach of placing the census in the broad perspective of a national statistical information system for food and agriculture.
173. Noting that in an integrated system of national food and agricultural statistics, a census of agriculture should collect data on agricultural structure, the Conference stressed the need for sample surveys on specific subjects such as food consumption, prices and employment. In this connection, a request was made for FAO to encourage countries to assemble and report data on fertilizer inventories.
174. The Conference welcomed the preparation of Regional Supplements to the 1990 census of agriculture programme to provide specific recommendations taking into account regional differences in agricultural structure.
175. The Conference stressed the need for explanatory guidelines in order to help implement censuses of agriculture and appreciated the work undertaken by the FAO Secretariat to prepare manuals on the design of questionnaires and for the training and guidance of field enumerators and supervisors.
176. The Conference underlined the importance of training national staff for improving food and agricultural statistics and requested the FAO Secretariat to continue to organize national and regional training courses and workshops for agricultural statisticians.
177. The Conference urged member countries to participate fully in the 1990 world census of agriculture and requested the FAO Secretariat to continue to provide assistance to countries for planning and implementing their censuses of agriculture.