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FAO Summit boosts agriculture to end hunger

Step forward to hunger-free world

©FAO/Alessandra Benedetti
Closing session of the World Summit on Food Security.
18 November 2009, Rome - The three-day World Summit on Food Security ended here today after committing the international community to investing more in agriculture and to eradicating hunger at the earliest date.

FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf, who hosted the event, said the Summit marked "an important step towards the achievement of our common objective - a world free from hunger".

But, he declared "to my regret the official Declaration adopted by the Summit this past Monday contains neither measurable targets nor specific deadlines which would have made it easier to monitor implementation..."

FAO had proposed setting a target of 2025 for the total eradication of hunger from the face of the earth and increasing Official Development Assistance to agriculture to $44 billion per year for investment in developing-country agriculture and rural infrastructure.

Important commitments

At the same time, however, the Summit produced four important commitments, Diouf said.

1. A firm pledge to renew efforts to achieve the First Millennium Development Goal of halving hunger by 2015, and eradicating hunger from the world at the earliest date.

 2. A pledge to improve international coordination and the governance of food security through a profound reform of FAO's Committee on World Food Security (CFS) which would become a central component of the Global Partnership for Agriculture, Food Security and Nutrition. Broadened to include stakeholders from both the public and private sector and non-governmental organizations, and elevated to ministerial level, the CFS would coordinate international efforts against hunger as well as take rapid and informed decisions on global food issues. It will be assisted in that task by an international high-level panel of experts.

3. A promise to reverse the downward trend in domestic and international funding for agriculture, food security and rural development in developing countries and significantly increase their share in public development aid.

4. A decision to promote new investments in agricultural production and productivity in developing countries in order to reduce poverty and achieve food security for all.

"I am convinced that together we can eradicate hunger from our planet," Diouf declared. "But we must move from words to actions."

"Let us do it for a more prosperous, more just, more equitable and more peaceful world. But above all, let us do it quickly because the poor and the hungry cannot wait," he added.

The Summit adopted Five Rome Principles for Sustainable Global Food Security including: 1) invest in country-owned plans channeling resources to well-designed and results-based programmes and partnerships; 2) foster strategic coordination at all levels to improve governance, promote better allocation of resources and avoid duplication; 3) strive for a twin-track approach to food security including both short-term emergency and long-term development measures; 4) work to improve the efficiency, coordination and effectiveness of multilateral institutions; and 5) ensure sustained and substantial commitment by all partners to investment in agriculture and food security and nutrition.

Climate change

The Summit also agreed to "proactively face the challenges of climate change to food security and the need for adaptation of, and mitigation in agriculture... with particular attention to small agricultural producers and vulnerable populations."

In addition to Member Nations and representatives of international and regional organizations, who all addressed the Plenary, meetings were held in the days preceding the Summit to ensure that all voices were heard. A Private-Sector Meeting was held on 12 and 13 November in Milan, a Parliamentary Day was organized on 13 November in Rome and a Civil Society Forum took place in Rome from 14 to 16 November. Statements from all three events were read to the Summit Plenary.

Sixty Heads of State and Government and 191 Ministers from 182 countries and the European Community attended the Summit. Personalities included Pope Benedict XVI who said in his address the rules governing international trade should be separated from "the logic of profit viewed as an end in itself".