The Federal Republic of Germany has been a member of the FAO since 1950. The FAO was the first of the UN specialized agencies that Germany joined, twenty-three years before our country became a full member of the United Nations.
We joined convinced that fighting hunger in the world is a profoundly humane and therefore a priority task in which we want to play a committed part. And that is as true today as it was fifty years ago.
To have enough to eat is a fundamental human right. Anyone fighting hunger is fighting by peaceful means for a more peaceful world. The FAO can play an important part in making this right a reality. That is why we must strengthen the FAO, not least in the current circumstances.
I should like to thank the FAO for its endeavours to work even more closely with the other UN organizations. This is an important and necessary step towards banishing hunger and poverty from our world at long last.
The motto of World Food Day 2001 is "Fight hunger to reduce poverty".
Of course, we must ask ourselves why so many people still have to starve, despite all the progress we have made in technology, science and economics.
What have we done wrong? Did we not approach the problem seriously enough? Is it just because of a lack of money, or a lack of interest, or a lack of responsibility?
What can we do better, what must we do better? Is it perhaps the case that we have the right concepts, but are not putting them into practice?
What use is a catalogue of human rights if it is infringed millions of times each day, if 24,000 people die of starvation each day, including 18,000 children below the age of five?
Starving people are an indictment of the international community. Every person who starves is a judgement on us. For starvation is not an inevitable fate. Trying to do something about hunger is not a hopeless task. Just twenty years ago - when Willy Brandt spoke here about his visions - 29 per cent of people in the so-called developing countries were malnourished. Today the figure is 18 per cent, although the world's population has increased dramatically.
However, there are still 815 million starving people in the world - precisely 815 million too many.
While many in the rich countries fight against the consequences of overeating and lack of exercise, others are fighting for grim survival. That is not the fair world we all wish for!
The world's population is expanding at a breathtaking rate. There can be no quick fix. That is why we urgently need progress in the production of foodstuffs.
But part of the reality is that in many areas of the world the ground is being overexploited in order to increase harvests in the short term. The justification for this in the developing countries is not carelessness, but pure need, or ignorance.
The long-term consequences of this approach are devastating: the ground dries out, desertifies and becomes infertile, with the result that harvests shrink, not grow.
Whoever wants to prevent this must substantially increase the funds for agricultural research so that applied technologies can be used to keep agricultural land fertile and achieve high yields in the long term.
Extensive irrigation has been able to increase harvests in many parts of the world. But the drinking-water reserves are decreasing and the number of thirsty people is growing.
The supply of drinking-water available worldwide has shrunk by almost two-thirds since 1950. Every year twelve million people die of a lack of water and of polluted drinking water.
We urgently need more binding agreements on how cross-border watercourses can be jointly used. We need techniques which enable us to achieve higher yields whilst using water economically. One does not necessarily need a high-tech approach for this. Often all that is needed is experience from other regions, and their good ideas.
The development of networks and correct advice may provide crucial assistance. The FAO and many non-governmental organizations have recognized this and have successfully adopted this approach.
There are many good examples in Bolivia and Ethiopia, Brazil and Thailand, Kenya and Bangladesh and elsewhere. These examples give us courage.
To my mind, we talk too much about the technical possibilities for fighting hunger in the world and not enough about the political instruments. Technology alone will not suffice.
We know that war leads to poverty, suffering and hunger, and we know that hunger can lead to violence and war. This is a vicious circle that must be broken by political means.
We do not need more military and more weapons in our world. We need more enlightened statesmen and more courage to face up to unpalatable truths. We must strengthen the willingness for dialogue and mutual understanding - both within countries and across borders - so that a lack of understanding does not develop into hatred, violence, terror and war.
I am firmly convinced, particularly in the wake of the dreadful events of 11 September, that we need the dialogue between the cultures. I will play my part in this.
Where dictatorship, oppression, intolerance and corruption rule, there is no possibility of prosperous development for the benefit of all citizens. What prospers under these conditions is envy and strife, resignation and apathy, fear and despair.
Much has already been said in the context of development policy about "good governance". Some people find the term amusing. I believe that what it stands for is one of the most important prerequisites for humane progress.
"Good governance" means
Fairness, justice and participation are the pillars on which a society can rest soundly and act dynamically. Parliaments and governments, all those in positions of political responsibility, must be won over to these principles.
Then there will be good reason to hope that things will change for the better, not overnight perhaps, but gradually. Then there will also be good reason to hope that help will not merely drain away, but will take root in fertile soil.
The vast majority of starving people in the world live in rural regions and in conditions of which we in the North can scarcely conceive.
400 million small farmers live in the so-called developing countries. The majority of them are farmers not out of preference or love of the land. No, they are people who struggle day in, day out for their survival and for the survival of their families. They have no other source of income. Every failed harvest is a disaster jeopardizing their very existence.
That is why we must concentrate the financial resources provided under development cooperation even more than before on the development of rural areas. It is here that we can most effectively fight hunger: through advisory services, small loans and technical assistance.
Statistically, there is enough food in the world for everyone, but the statistics distort the reality.
Food aid is only useful in cases of acute starvation disasters. Long-term food aid supplies destroy local markets and rob local farmers of their income.
Help for self-help is a better, the best form of aid.
Again and again we see that the provision of education and knowledge is a decisive factor for the success of development cooperation. It also plays a crucial role in slowing down rapid population growth in some countries.
For this reason, family planning services must be strengthened along with the entire education sector. Women in particular should benefit from this, because often it is they who bear the heaviest burden and greatest responsibility.
All this costs a great deal of money. Neither the so-called developing countries nor the government and non-governmental organizations have such money today.
However, I should like at this juncture to remind you of an agreement by the United Nations General Assembly dating from 1970 which we should not forget: back then, the richer countries of the world undertook to make available 0.7 per cent of their GNP for development aid. This agreement has been in place for 30 years, but it is not being complied with.
Hardly any country fulfils this goal to date. That is a sad truth.
I am convinced that we must pursue this 0.7 per cent goal, because it is sensible and appropriate. In the long run we would gain much more from it than we lose.
We must also give greater thought to a fair global economic system.
There are still far too many barriers which affect economic opportunities and favour the industrial countries. This must change, and there have been some positive moves which must be taken forward at the 4th WTO ministerial conference in Qatar. May I remind you also of the Köln Debt Initiative. The European Community intends to completely dismantle its export subsidies for grain in a few years. They will then no longer be blocking the markets in the developing countries.
Some people set great store by the globalization of the economy. I, too, see the opportunities for many countries and many people. However, participation in the globalized economy presupposes well educated, skilled people and modern communications systems.
Which of the so-called developing countries can keep pace?
My impression is that in reality globalization - so far, at least - is mainly taking place among the industrialized countries.
So we must take care that globalization does not lead to a deeper division of our world between rich and poor countries, countries which benefit from technical and economic progress and countries permanently removed from it.
So anyone who thinks that globalization will automatically bring prosperity for all is fooling himself and others.
I warn against using globalization as an excuse for doing nothing in development policy terms and just sitting back and waiting. The reality is quite the opposite: globalization brings new challenges for development cooperation, challenges which we must tackle actively in a spirit of partnership.
We need peace and democracy in all regions of the world. We need global security, a fair system of world trade, technical progress and global solidarity.
All people will benefit, around the world.
In the rich countries of the North no-one can seriously believe that he can live permanently on an island of prosperity surrounded by a sea of sorrow and suffering. That is why it is in the rich countries' very own interests to fight hunger. Barbed wire and walls are no response to refugee flows, to poverty and suffering.
We need the international coalition against terrorism. We also need a global alliance against hunger and poverty.
I am firmly convinced that we can realize the vision of a peaceful world free of hunger.
If we are to succeed, we must strengthen awareness of the fact that in our one world we are more than ever dependent and reliant on each other.
We must therefore outlaw violence worldwide, we must respect the diversity of cultures, nations and regions and we must consolidate what they have in common - in the name of democracy and human rights, in the fight against hunger and poverty.
I thank all members of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, governmental and non-governmental organizations for the contribution they make towards this end.