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Press Release 01/34

COMMITTEE ON WORLD FOOD SECURITY MEETS TO PAVE THE WAY FOR WORLD FOOD SUMMIT: five years later


Rome, 24 May 2001 - Both developing and developed countries have failed to demonstrate their commitment to set aside the resources required to achieve the eradication of hunger in all its dimensions, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The charge came in a paper* to be presented at the 27th Session of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS), which meets at FAO Headquarters in Rome 28 May - 1 June.

Despite a strong global consensus that the main goal for development must be the elimination of poverty and that lack of access to adequate food is the most appalling manifestation of poverty, there has been a conspicuous lack of focus within poverty reduction strategies on food security issues, says FAO. Concern over hunger tends to be confined largely to highly visible emergency situations, but the bulk of the world's undernourished people face food shortages day-in, day-out throughout their lives.

"The great danger is that the debate on poverty reduction strategies will continue, delaying commitment to even the most obvious of actions, while more than 800 million people, many of them children, are deprived of the opportunity to live a full life," says FAO. There is also a real risk that the very success of the agricultural revolution of the 20th century and the current general adequacy of world food supplies may encourage widespread indifference towards the need for urgent solutions to chronic hunger. Getting rid of hunger is a precondition for success in poverty alleviation and broad-based economic growth, says FAO.

According to FAO, the potential for achieving the World Food Summit goal of reducing the number of undernourished people in the world by half no later than by 2015 remains good. But, it says, this will require that the eradication of hunger be adopted as a specific and high-priority objective nationally and internationally within poverty reduction strategies.

The Organization calls on the international community to recognise that all humanity enjoys a right to food in the context of international human rights legislation. "As along as people are hungry there can be little progress towards halving poverty through economic growth processes," says FAO.

The lead must come from the families, communities and countries where food insecurity is deepest, "but their efforts must be matched with reciprocal resource commitments by the international community, provided through bilateral and multilateral channels and civil society organisations on a non-recoverable basis."

The CFS will lay the groundwork for the follow-up Summit, which invites Heads of State and Government to reconvene to find a way to meet the 1996 World Food Summit goal. Though governments of 186 countries adopted the goal, recent data indicate that the number of hungry people in the world is declining by only 8 million people a year, not by the 20 million a year necessary to meet the goal.

The CFS, a policy forum for member countries of FAO and the United Nations, will add an extra day to its annual meeting to consider three papers that FAO has prepared for the World Food Summit: five years later. The papers, Fostering the Political Will to Fight Hunger, Mobilising the Resources to Fight Hunger and New Challenges to the Achievements of the World Food Summit Goals, examine the main obstacles to reaching the World Food Summit goal and suggest ways to overcome those obstacles.

The Committee will review case studies, which demonstrate that community-based action to improve agricultural productivity on a sustainable basis can lead to significant income gains, and substantially reduce or eliminate food insecurity. CFS will also look at the world food security situation and the impact that HIV/AIDS is having on labour in rural communities.

* * * * * *

* The three papers being considered by CFS for the upcoming World Food Summit: five years later (5-9 November 2001) can be found at the following URL along with all the other CFS documents being discussed at the 27th session: http://www.fao.org/unfao/bodies/cfs/cfs27/cfs2001-e.htm

For more information please contact John Riddle, Media Relations Officer, Tel: 0039-06-5705 3259, e-mail: john.riddle@fao.org


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