"The purpose of the World Food Summit: five years later is to give new impetus to worldwide efforts on behalf of hungry people...We must raise both the political will and the financial resources to fight hunger. The international community has repeatedly declared that it is dedicated to the eradication of poverty. Eliminating hunger is a vital first step."

Dr. Jacques Diouf, Director-General of FAO

Halving the number of hungry by 2015

In June 2002, FAO will host a global meeting of world leaders to review progress towards ending hunger. The World Food Summit: five years later (WFS:fyl), which was originally to take place from 5 to 9 November 2001, will consider the progress achieved since the 1996 World Food Summit and will concentrate on ways and means to accelerate the process. During the World Food Summit, Heads of State or Government or high-level representatives from 185 countries and the European Community had pledged their political will and their commitment "to achieving food security for all and to an on-going effort to eradicate hunger in all countries, with an immediate view to reducing the number of undernourished people to half their present level no later than 2015." The World Food Summit: five years later will aim for a reaffirmation of commitment to the Rome Declaration on World Food Security and the World Food Summit Plan of Action, the two documents adopted at the Summit. Due to the difficult international situation which followed the attacks of 11 September in the United States and the need to ensure worldwide representation at WFS:fyl, the Director-General of FAO sought the agreement of FAO's Council to postpone the meeting. During its 121st Session (30 October - 1 November 2001), Council set the new dates for the WFS:fyl from 10 to 13 June 2002.

Keeping up the momentum

The Council was unanimous in its determination to ensure the best possible conditions for the full success of the WFS:fyl. It expressed firm conviction that the rescheduling of the Summit and related events should maintain the momentum generated by the process of preparations that had taken place during 2001. Ensuring that the issue of food security remains high on the international agenda is a vital demonstration of this determination.

The dates may have changed but the reasons remain the same

The decision to postpone the event was a case of force majeure but the events of autumn 2001 have further increased the need to secure unwavering commitment to the international community's fundamental development goals, including the target of halving the number of hungry in the world by 2015.

FAO's latest assessment of the global food security situation is a stark reminder of the slow progress towards the reduction of hunger. During the 1990s, the reduction in the number of undernourished was only 6 million people a year on average , compared to a level of 22 million a year that would be needed to meet the World Food Summit target, according to the latest issue of FAO's State of Food Insecurity in the World (SOFI 2001).

It is therefore all the more crucial that countries take measures to accelerate the pace of change. Only through the direct involvement of decision-makers will it be possible to mobilize the necessary political will and ensure that vital decisions are taken by leaders in a position to influence policy at every level.

How the Summit is being organized in 2002

In view of the need to hold the Summit at the earliest feasible date in 2002, to keep costs to a minimum, and to maintain the principle of taking advantage of already budgeted meetings, WFS:fyl will be convened in conjunction with the 28th Session of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS). Originally scheduled to take place in September 2002, the session will be brought forward to 6 to 8 June 2002. The CFS will consider two main items related to the Summit itself - the Assessment of the World Food Security Situation and the Report on Progress in Implementing the World Food Summit Plan of Action. In this way, WFS:fyl will be able to benefit from the results of the first full cycle of reporting by the CFS on the implementation of the World Food Summit Plan of Action.

The Summit was originally scheduled to take place over five days but subsequent, more detailed planning, indicated that it could probably conclude its business in four days. Within the four-day timeframe the high-level event will include not only the Plenary debate, but also three Round Table discussions and a Multistakeholder Dialogue.

Role of the FAO Regional Conferences

As a means of ensuring the fullest possible contribution of the FAO Regional Conferences to the CFS debate, and in so doing to provide substantive analyses of implementation of the World Food Summit Plan of Action, the regional conferences will take place in the first half of 2002. The dates of the Asia and Pacific Regional Conference, originally scheduled for 24 to 28 June, will be brought forward to 13 to 17 May 2002. The regional conferences will also address regional perspectives in the run-up to WFS:fyl.

Outcome of the Summit

Regarding the outcome of the Summit, the FAO Council had established an Open-ended Working Group to consider the substance and form of such a document - a draft proposal for which had been submitted by the chairpersons of the Working Group to the FAO Council at its 120th Session in June 2001. The Council subsequently decided at its 121st Session in November 2001 not to reconvene the Open-ended Working Group on that occasion but to delegate to the CFS at its meeting in June, the responsibility for reconvening the Group on behalf of Council. The CFS would in turn receive and forward to the Summit the outcome of the reconvened session of the Open-ended Working Group.

The negotiated outcome, which is expected to be a declaration of recommitment to the World Food Summit goals and to the actions that are required to achieve them, would represent the principal outcome of the Summit.

There will be no re-opening of debate on the Rome Declaration and Plan of Action. The purpose of bringing Heads of State or Government together is to provide additional impetus, support and follow-up to ensure the fulfilment of the undertakings contained in those documents.

Background documents

Chief among the background documents which will be made available during WFS:fyl is a volume entitled The World Food Summit: five years later - Mobilizing the Political Will and Resources to Banish World Hunger. The publication comprises the three background documents which have been prepared by the Secretariat, reviewed by the CFS at its session in May 2001, and incorporating the views of a broadbased peer review. The three papers are concerned with Fostering the Political Will to Fight Hunger, Mobilizing Resources for Agriculture in Support of Food Security and New Challenges to the Achievement of the World Food Summit Goal.

Parallel Events

It is envisaged that the three parallel events previously planned to take place during the time of the World Food Summit:five years later will go ahead in June 2002.

An association of Italian non-governmental organizations (NGOs), working with a Core Group of NGOs/civil society organizations (CSOs) established to facilitate the participation of civil society in WFS:fyl, is planning an NGO Forum.

Plans are underway for a Parliamentary Day with the participation of parliamentarians who are members of national delegations, and hosted by the Italian Parliament with the collaboration of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU).

It is also expected that a Private Sector Forum will take place during the week of the World Food Summit: five years later.

The 1996 World Food Summit and its Follow up

The World Food Summit took place from 13 to 17 November 1996, comprising five days of meetings at the highest level with representatives from 185 countries and the European Community. This historic event, convened at FAO headquarters in Rome, brought together close to 10,000 participants and provided a forum for debate on one of the most important issues facing world leaders in the new millennium-- the eradication of hunger.

The adoption by 112 Heads or Deputy Heads of State and Government, and by over 70 high-level representatives from other countries of the Rome Declaration on World Food Security and World Food Summit Plan of Action, at a meeting which also saw the active involvement of representatives of inter-governmental organisations (IGOs), and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), among others, has provided a framework for bringing about important changes in policies and programmes needed to achieve Food for All.

World Food Summit Plan of Action

The Commitments

Commitment One: we will ensure an enabling political, social and economic environment designed to create the best conditions for the eradication of poverty and for durable peace, based on full and equal participation of women and men, which is most conducive to achieving sustainable food security for all;

Commitment Two: we will implement policies aimed at eradicating poverty and inequality and improving physical and economic access by all, at all times to sufficient, nutritionally adequate and safe food and its effective utilization;

Commitment Three: we will pursue participatory and sustainable food, agriculture, fisheries, forestry and rural development policies and practices in high and low potential areas, which are essential to adequate and reliable food supplies at the household, national, regional and global levels, and combat pests, drought and desertification, considering the multifunctional character of agriculture;

Commitment Four: we will strive to ensure that food, agricultural trade and overall trade policies are conducive to fostering food security for all through a fair and market-oriented world trade system;

Commitment Five: we will endeavour to prevent and be prepared for natural disasters and man-made emergencies and to meet transitory and emergency food requirements in ways that encourage recovery, rehabilitation, development and a capacity to satisfy future needs;

Commitment Six: we will promote optimal allocation and use of public and private investments to foster human resources, sustainable food, agriculture, fisheries and forestry systems, and rural development, in high and low potential areas;

Commitment Seven: we will implement, monitor, and follow-up this Plan of Action at all levels in cooperation with the international community.


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