FAO Briefing on the Outcome of the World Summit on Food Security, 15 December 2009
Briefing by Ms. Lila H. Ratsifandrihamanana
Director, FAO Liaison Office with the United Nations on the outcome of the World Food Summit on Food Security at the ECOSOC Resumed Session
New York, 15 December 2009
First, I am pleased to convey the profound gratitude of the Director-General of FAO for the participation of delegations from your country at the World Summit on Food Security held in Rome from 16 to 18 November 2009. It was attended by 4,780 delegates, among which 60 Heads of State and Government, 178 Ministers from 184 countries, representatives of organizations and agencies, financial institutions, civil society and private sector. Delegates met throughout the Summit both for a high level segment and for four round tables which addressed the negative impacts of the food, economic and financial crises on world food security; the implementation of the reform of global governance of food security; the climate change adaptation and mitigation as new challenges for agriculture and food security; the measures to enhance global food security, including rural development, smallholder farmers and trade considerations. The Pre-Summit events - the NGOs Civil society forum, the Private sector forum, the Parliamentary meeting of national parliamentarians -, also gave occasion for active interactions.
The outcomes of the Summit include a Declaration which was adopted by acclamation (available on the FAO website). It contains agreed commitments and actions and sets a number of Strategic Objectives to ensure urgent national, regional and global action to fully realize the target of the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 1 and the 1996 World Food Summit goal. Member States committed: to work within a Global Partnership for Agriculture, Food Security and Nutrition; to implement the reform of the Committee on Food Security; to reverse the decline in funding for agriculture, food security and rural development in developing countries, and promote new investment; and to face the challenges of climate change to food security and the need for adaptation and mitigation in agriculture.
The Declaration also outlines the five Rome Principles for Sustainable Global Food Security, namely, invest in country-owned plans, foster strategic coordination at national, regional and global levels, strive for a comprehensive twin-track approach to food security, ensure a strong role for the multilateral system, and ensure sustained and substantial commitment by all partners to investment in agriculture and food security and nutrition. Thus, those principles seek to achieve and strengthen food and nutrition security in the long run, and so to realize the target of MDG 1, mentioned previously.
During the Summit, various concerns were raised, such as the difficulty to reach the target established at the 1996 World Food Summit to halve the number of undernourished people by 2015; the fact that there are one billion hungry people in 2009, 105 million more than in 2008; that 5 children are dying every 30 seconds; that to meet the food needs of 9.1 billion population in 2050 food production should be expanded by 70%; that 44 billion USD per year are needed to eliminate hunger from the face of the earth (1.340 billion USD were used for military expenditure in only 2007).
Moreover, the neglect of agriculture and rural development over the past decades, the threat of climate change, the deteriorating environments to food security, and the challenges of water scarcity were outlined by many delegations. The lack of market access, in addition to insufficient assistance from the international community, hinders the developing countries potential to become food exporters.
Among other recommendations, many delegations stressed the need to consider the eradication of hunger as a norm of international law. It was also stressed that Agriculture should be part of a comprehensive policy package; integrated rural development, measures to boost food production are key components of Food Security policies; investment in the agricultural sector should not be reduced because of the financial crisis and the shift of attention to Climate Change;
African countries should be encouraged and supported in their efforts to dedicate 10% of their national budgets to agriculture, as laid out in the 2003 African Union Maputo Declaration. Developed countries should take the lead in providing financial and technical assistance to address food security, while developing countries must ensure a friendly environment for investment; new approaches to mobilizing investments should be developed: Many of developing countries’ food needs can be packaged as commercial and bankable proposals that will appeal to developed countries. In addition, the need to invest in smallholder farmers and in particular women farmers was emphasized.
On more technical issues, conducive conditions for development should be created, emphasizing technology transfer, capacity building and market access; Focus should be on trade and business transactions, not aid; South-South or triangular cooperation should be encouraged; Production of inputs, such as fertilizers, within Africa should be encouraged; Support to scientific research for agriculture in developing countries, and to establish improved seed banks to address food security are needed.
The Summit gave also the opportunity to emphasize successful actions and programmes to address food security. With the support of FAO, special programmes for food security were prepared at national level and implemented in 106 countries and today 17 large-scale national programmes are operational and 30 others are in advanced stages of formulation. Countries’ Food security strategy comprises economic diversification, sustainable agriculture, social security programmes and intersectoral platforms to integrate civil society; land reform strategies; tax incentives, subsidies to smallholder farmers, equipment provision programmes; and credit provision programmes for farmers. Efforts were made with regard to investments in rural infrastructure and various types of technologies suited for different conditions, the implementation of the Programme for the Development of African Agriculture, bilateral and multilateral commitments including increased aid for food security, agricultural and rural development, and nutrition.
Trade was the subject of significant debate, with many speakers stressing its indivisibility from food security. Developing countries stressed their potentials to be food exporters, though the trade system does not allow food to move freely as required. Transparent and non-discriminatory trade regulations, combating speculation around food pricing, access to markets for developing countries, to market information and inputs, particularly fertilizers, early warning systems and food safety nets, better statistical information, and elimination of subsidies were also stressed. Several participants called for a successful conclusion to the Doha round of WTO negotiations and for the revision of the World Bank classification of economies to reflect on-the-ground realities.
Many delegates highlighted the links between food security, sustainable development and climate change. The devastating impacts on small island states and arid regions of more frequent and severe natural disasters due to climate change were highlighted. The potentially harmful impacts of biofuels on food security were pointed out. However, it was noted that controlled production and use of second generation of biofuels could help mitigate climate change and boost rural development. Hope was expressed for a positive outcome at the Copenhagen climate negotiations. It was also stressed that priority areas for action should be on resilience of food production systems and ecosystems, conservation of genetic resources, and integrated pest and disease management. Examples for proactive adaptation planning were presented, including regional scenario building, broadening the range of genetic variability, developing crop varieties for different climate scenarios, and building water reserves for irrigation and livestock. A strong call was made for incentives for sustainable agriculture and forest management in the climate regime and for research on climate-friendly agricultural practices.
The improvement of Food Security Governance was stressed all along the High level segment and round tables debates. The importance of comprehensive and action-oriented approaches to addressing food security was emphasized again, as well the need for a participatory global governance system based on the centrality of the UN. The Reform of the Committee on Food Security was welcomed. In this regard, during the Summit, FAO Director-General spoke on behalf of all three UN Rome-based agencies to highlight the strategy for intensified cooperation, finalized in November 2009.
Noting that concrete action requires concrete funding and investment, the decision made at L’Aquila G8/G20 meeting in July 2009 to mobilize US$20 billion over three years for food security was strongly commended. However these funds alone are insufficient to tackle the problem and are yet to materialize. In this connection, we are pleased to inform this Assembly that the Islamic Development Bank signed an agreement with FAO on 15 November 2009 with a Pledge of US$1 billion to agricultural development in poor countries.
In the light of the above, we can measure the challenges ahead and reiterate that the Summit was a true opportunity to call for the world solidarity towards eradicating hunger from the face of the earth sustainably and at the earliest date.
I thank you.