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Irish President voices support for fight against hunger

In a meeting with Graziano da Silva the President praises FAO’s development work on the ground and its efforts to become more efficient

8 February 2013, Rome - The President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, met with FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva today to discuss the global battle against hunger and poverty and the work of FAO.

Since January, Ireland holds the Presidency of the Council of the European Union. Higgins voiced support for the FAO in its goal of combating hunger and poverty worldwide, and of ensuring enough food that is healthy and nutritious for all in the challenging decades to come. By 2050, the world will have to produce 60 percent more food for 2.3 billion more people.

He praised FAO for its efforts to become more efficient and highlighted the need do preserve and strengthen the important work that FAO does on the ground. “Nutrition and hunger are the key issues for humanity,” said the President.

Higgins also stressed the importance of effectively integrating women in the rural development processes.

Over the past 10 years, Ireland has made voluntary contributions of over 13 million dollars to FAO, invested mainly in development and emergency action at national and regional levels. Current areas of focus of the cooperation include reducing food losses and waste and supporting small-scale producers’ integration to markets.

Tenure of land, fisheries and forests

The Director-General and President Higgins signaled their commitment to working together on protecting the rights of the world’s most vulnerable farmers, and ensuring that they aren’t marginalized in the development process. The President noted that local knowledge and the rights of indigenous people should be taken into account.

The President highlighted the importance of implementing the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests, endorsed last year by the Committee on World Food Security. The guidelines aim to promote food security and sustainable development by improving secure access to land, fisheries and forests and protecting the rights of millions of often very poor people.

Higgins said that he would stress the importance of implementing the guidelines in the upcoming Roundtable on Scaling up EU Impact on Community Resilience and Nutrition to be held in Dublin in March and the Dublin Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Climate Justice in April.

The Director-General praised the Irish initiative to push food security and nutrition to the forefront of discussions about hunger during its Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

Avoiding price shocks and volatility

Also high on their list of concerns were global efforts to strengthen systems for agricultural statistics, especially for major globally traded commodities, to avoid price shocks and ensure transparency on global markets.

Photo: ©FAO/Giulio Napolitano
Michael D. Higgins, the President of Ireland (left) and FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva