From the podium

From the podium

Her Excellency Lena Hjelm-Wallén (Deputy Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Sweden)

It is indeed a challenge in the deepest sense of the word that 18 000 children die each day for lack of food, that HIV/AIDS kills farmers, teachers, mothers and fathers and with them their skills and knowledge. That we see food emergency of immense magnitude approaching in southern Africa while the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea continues to face a food deficit and poverty. And that the people of Afghanistan struggle to build a new society and agricultural possibilities after decades of warfare. Despite these facts, Governments all over the world pursue policies which do not alleviate the life and livelihoods of those who depend on what the soil and water will generate. On the contrary, many Government policies are counterproductive and constrain the opportunities of poor people to escape famine and undernourishment.

Madam Chairperson, this must be changed. This is why we have gathered here today, to mobilize political will and resources, to accelerate the fight against poverty and hunger.

With political will, we can change things. In my view, the strongest political will translates itself into good governance exercised by all levels of authority and with the full participation of people. National, as well as local, Governments must place themselves at the service of democracy, transparency and predictability. Good governance means respect for people, their participation in decision-making and the accountability of those in power.

The majority of food producers in the developing countries are women, but women are almost excluded from decision-making and also from to access to resources, and they are not allowed to reap the benefits of their own production. In a way, the delegations and the speakers of this Summit give us the same impression that is the reality for the poor women in many developing countries.

So it is pivotal that this Summit send a clear and strong message to the international community that gender equality is a prerequisite for the eradication of poverty and hunger, and for promoting growth and sustainable development for all. Hunger, like poverty, must be addressed from many angles. Policies regarding agriculture, environment, trade development and security must be mutually reinforced. Equally important is coherence between different levels and actors within and among policy areas.

Food security is primarily a national responsibility. It requires action in many different domestic policy areas. Besides that, international trade can play an important role in the promotion of economic growth, the alleviation of poverty and food security in developing countries. For many countries, agricultural trade is of particular importance. This is why the liberalization of agricultural trade is highlighted in the FAO Plan of Action adopted in 1996.

The ongoing WTO Negotiations on agriculture should, therefore, create international rules and commitments for the agricultural sector that are conducive to achieving development of primary agricultural production, food industry and food security. In these Negotiations, we must acknowledge the need of special and differentiated treatment for developing countries.

The other main theme of our meeting, to mobilize resources, is one of many necessary means to achieve food security. The National Governments in developing countries have to review the allocation of resources for the development of rural areas, where the majority of the poor and those suffering from food insecurity live.

In Monterrey, earlier this year, the international society decided to turn the negative trend of declining ODA. It was an important step forward as many donors, including the EU and the USA, announced concrete steps to increase ODA, Sweden already belongs to the far too exclusive “Group of Zero-point-Seven” with only four other members. The Swedish Government is striving for an increase in the ODA and we have a time-schedule for reaching a full one per cent within the next few years. But let me underline, we do not want to be alone, or to be members of a very exclusive group, in these endeavours.

This year, the Monterrey Conference, the General Assembly Special Session on Children, the World Food Summit: five years later and the World Summit on Sustainable Development to be held in Johannesburg, form a chain of strong links and interdependence. More than words must come out of these meetings. The political will to do more and to do the right things must be proven.

We must, together, make the necessary changes, nationally and internationally, for global food security with a first step to halve hunger by the year 2015.

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