1 December 2003, Rome
"More financial resources from development partners are
essential to meet the challenges of the new century,"
FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf today told agriculture
ministers and senior officials from 187 FAO Member States and
the European Community gathered at the 32nd session of the
Organization's governing Conference.
"Resentment against undernourishment and
poverty breeds extremist action that can sometimes lead to crime
and threaten national stability," FAO Director-General
said. "It is therefore in the interest of everyone,
rich and poor alike, to combat hunger, injustice and
Stressing the need to
mobilize the political will of national decision-makers, the
energy of civil society and bilateral and multilateral
resources, Dr. Diouf said "the existence of hunger in a
world of plenty is not just a moral outrage, it is also the
result of short-sighted economic policy."
Major challenges for FAO detailed by Dr. Diouf
- protection of biodiversity and
- stabilization and growth
of agricultural production;
agricultural and rural
- improving food consumption in a
global trade environment;
- protection of
- mitigation of HIV/AIDS
- preparations for the International
Year of Rice-2004;
- food security for at
least 245 million people living in mountain
- improving coordination and
integration within the UN System.
"There can be no reduction in hunger and
poverty without sustainable agricultural and rural development
that provides income and work," Dr. Diouf said.
About 70 percent of the world's poor
live in rural areas and depend on agriculture for their
livelihoods. Agriculture gives work to 40 percent of the
population in developing countries, that is 2.5 billion people.
Dr. Diouf indicated that FAO seeks
increased cooperation with governments, development partners and
financial institutions to secure the necessary investments for
sustainable agricultural and rural development.
FAO is coordinating the activities of the programme of
action for Sustainable Agricultural and Rural Development (SARD)
that was adopted at the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992 and
reaffirmed at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in
Johannesburg, in 2002.
FAO Director-General said cooperation with the UNAIDS programme
will continue to identify the agricultural dimension of the
epidemic and related measures needed in FAO's programmes
According to UN figures, some
8 million agricultural workers have died from AIDS since 1985
and another 16 million could die from the disease by 2020.
"In 1999-2001, there were 842
million undernourished people in the world, including 798
million in the developing countries, 34 million in the countries
in transition, and 11 million in the developed
countries," Dr. Diouf indicated.
"While in the last ten years the number of
hungry people has fallen by more than 80 million in 19
developing countries, it has regrettably increased in many
At world level, the
number of undernourished people only fell by 19 million between
1990-1992 and 1999-2001. Therefore, in order to reach the goal
of the 1996 World Food Summit of reducing the number of
undernourished people by half by 2015, "the annual
rate will need to be raised to 26 million -
more than 12 times the present rate of 2.1 million,"Dr.
Recalling that 65 to 80 percent
of food emergencies are caused by drought and flooding, FAO
Director-General stressed the importance of small water
harvesting, irrigation and drainage works in developing
countries, especially in Africa and the Caribbean.
Dr. Diouf also said that FAO's Special Programme
for Food Security (SPFS) launched in 1995 has so far mobilized
almost US$548 million, with more than half coming from the
national budgets of developing countries. Today, 89 countries
are participating in the SPFS.
Reform of FAO and Budget
The reform of FAO which began in 1994 has led to a 30
percent reduction in staff and, as a result of decentralization,
FAO is represented today in 131 Member Nations, compared to 106
in 1994, Dr. Diouf indicated.
Organization's Programme of Work and Budget for the
biennium 2004-2005, which will be decided by Conference, Dr.
Diouf warned against further reductions.
"FAO's budget was reduced in 1996-1997
and has never increased in real terms since. Its present budget
of $651.8 million for 187 Member States is $21.4 million less
than the 1994-1995 budget when the Organization only had 169
Members. Cumulative inflation in Italy during this period has
reached 35 percent," FAO Director-General noted.
Three proposals have been put forward for
the Programme of Work and Budget 2004-2005. The first is
premised on real growth of 5.5 percent above the current
approved budget. The second envisages a zero real growth
scenario which Dr. Diouf called an elegant way of proposing a
budget freeze. And the third is a zero nominal growth, a budget
reduction in real terms of $35.2 million in 2004-2005.
Under the last scenario, Dr. Diouf said the
consequences will not be limited to reductions in overall
expenditure on fisheries and forestry programmes but will also
entail a loss of almost 160 posts across the Organization,
rising to 650 in the absence of a split assessment of
contributions in two currencies: US dollar and Euro.
Information Officer, FAO
(+39) 06 570