23 March 2009, Rome - The Heads of Government of CARICOM countries as well as President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil and President Michelle Bachelet of Chile are putting their support behind a proposal by FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf for a World Summit on Food Security next November in Rome, on the occasion of the 36th Session of the Conference of the Organization.
The announcement came after Dr. Diouf's visit earlier this month to Chile and Brazil, where he had separate talks with Presidents Bachelet and Lula, and to Belize, where he took part in the 20th Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
At a meeting with Diouf on 7 March, President Bachelet indicated her support for the proposed World Summit of Heads of State and Government on Food Security and her intention to be at the meeting. In a joint meeting on 9 March, President Lula expressed his support for the Summit proposal and his plan to participate in it.
On 13 March, the Heads of Government of CARICOM deliberated on the proposed Summit and lent their full support to it.
The FAO proposal had already received support from the Heads of State and Government of the League of Arab States at the Arab Economic and Social Development Summit in Kuwait last January and of the African Union at the 12th Ordinary Session of their Assembly in Addis Ababa in early February. Several other heads of state and governments have pledged their support and participation.
The 2009 Summit — from consensus to action
The FAO Director-General stressed that the Summit would reach tangible results by securing broad consensus on the total and rapid eradication of hunger and setting a new world food order.
"The Summit should lead to greater coherence in the global governance of world food security. It will define how we can improve policies and the structural aspects of the international agricultural system by putting forward lasting political, financial and technical solutions to the problem of food insecurity in the world," Diouf said.
The world food insecurity situation is unbearable. According to a recent FAO report, the total number of undernourished people in the world reached 963 million in 2008 — nearly one billion human beings, or 15 percent of the world's population.
The ongoing global financial and economic crisis could drive even more people into hunger and poverty unless urgent decisions are made and bold measures are undertaken.
The FAO chief has repeatedly appealed to the international community to put greater action behind their promises to fight hunger by designing a new agricultural order and mobilizing $30 billion per year to invest in rural infrastructure and boost agricultural production and productivity in developing countries.
"It is only in this way that we will succeed to eradicate hunger and feed a world population that will reach 9 billion in 2050," Diouf stressed.
A decent living for farmers
Diouf insists that "a new system of governance of world food security must be established" following the failure of the current system.
"We must have the intelligence and innovation to devise agricultural development policies together with rules and mechanisms that will ensure not only free but also fair international trade and in particular provide food security for all and offer farmers, in developed and developing countries alike, the means of earning a decent living," Diouf also said.
"To remain in rural activity, farmers in both developed and developing countries should earn incomes that are comparable to their fellow citizens employed in the secondary and tertiary sectors," he added.