Havana, 30 April 2002 -- The 27th FAO Regional Conference for Latin America and the Caribbean ended last week with a strong commitment to creating a world coalition against hunger.

Delegates from the 31 participating countries agreed on the need to give close attention to following up on the goals proposed at the World Food Summit in Rome in 1996. In view of concerns that the commitment made in 1996 to reduce by the year 2015 the number of people affected by hunger worldwide to 415 million will not be fulfilled, the Conference agreed that the aim of the new coalition will be to secure the participation of governments, as well as to call upon the creativity and energy of the Latin American and the Caribbean societies, to ensure that food security continues to be FAO's first priority.

A decision was also made on a proposal to be tabled during the World Food Summit:five year later in Rome this June to establish an inter-governmental working group in FAO to draw up a Voluntary Code of Conduct on the Right to Food over a two year period.

Recognizing the need to mobilize resources for the struggle against hunger, the Conference reiterated the need for the developed countries to honour their commitments to dedicate 0.7 % of their Gross National Product to Official Development Assistance (ODA).

The Conference requested FAO to support the training of experts to improve the negotiating capacity of countries in the Region with regards to the rounds of commercial multilateral negotiations, in order to reduce their disadvantage in relation to the developed countries.

The Conference also requested FAO to support the development of programmes focused on women and young rural people, and to continue to promote South-South cooperation, particularly through the FAO Special Programme for Food Security (SPFS).

The Conference also heard the final Declaration and the Plan of Action approved by the Second Regional Consultation of Non-Governmental and Civil Society Organisations that preceded the FAO Conference, attended by representatives of more than 42 organizations in the region. This final document gave support to the World F ood Summit:five years later and states, among other things, that the reasons for hunger are not so much lack of food production, but rather the unequal distribution of productive resources and income in the countries of the region.