10 July 2009, L’Aquila - FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf today welcomed the G8’s $20 billion Food Security Initiative as an encouraging policy shift in favour of the poor and hungry.
Addressing the G8, Diouf said “The L’Aquila Joint Statement on Global Food Security ... signals a welcome and encouraging shift of policy in favour of helping the poor and hungry to produce their own food.”
This is what FAO had been preaching for years without success, Diouf noted. The G8 meeting agreed to mobilize $20 billion over three years for a comprehensive strategy focussing on sustainable agricultural development.
Diouf expressed confidence that the G8 Heads of State and Government would effectively translate that pledge into concrete action.
“I am convinced that you will ‘walk the talk’ not only for natural ethical considerations but also for sound economic reasons and, last but not least, to ensure Peace and Security in the world”.
He urged the international donor community “as soon as possible” to devote 17 percent of Official Development Assistance (ODA) to agriculture, recalling that this was the level of investment which saved Asia and Latin America from looming famine in the 1970’s.
A similar level of resources is needed now to feed the more than one billion people suffering hunger and to ensure that the world’s population, set to grow to more than nine billion in 2050, will have enough to eat then.
World Food Summit
Diouf underlined that a new World Food Summit of Heads of State and Government – the third after previous meetings in 1996 and 2002 – is to be held at FAO Headquarters in Rome from 16-18 November with a view to securing a broad consensus on the eradication of hunger, on improved governance of the international agricultural system and on policies and programmes to ensure world food security.
“I am convinced that your Excellencies will personally participate in this gathering of leaders of [FAO’s] 192 member nations to ensure the most fundamental of human rights, ‘the right to food,’” Diouf said.
Quoting Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of independent India, he declared, “Everything can wait, but agriculture cannot wait”.