From the podium

From the podium

Her Excellency Mariann Fischer Boel (Minister for Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, Kingdom of Denmark)

At the World Food Summit in 1996, we committed ourselves to intensify our efforts to combat hunger in order to reduce it by half in 2015. We confirmed our resolve in this regard at the UN Millennium Summit in the year 2000. However, the tragedy of hunger and poverty in the midst of plenty is still a stark reality. FAO estimates that 815 million people were suffering from hunger in 1997-1999. We must now move from words to deeds and make good on our promises and good intentions.

Hunger is the most serious consequence of poverty, but it is also a cause of poverty as it deprives its victims of the capacity of benefit from development opportunities. Denmark believes that hunger reduction efforts must be firmly rooted in national poverty reduction strategies and addressed as part of a broader approach towards sustainable development in order to be effective.

Much is said about the need to increase food production in order to ensure food security. However, millions suffer from hunger and malnutrition in spite of the fact that global food production is big enough to feed everybody. Increased food production is one aspect of ensuring food security, but it will make no difference if we do not ensure that the food reaches the poor and hungry.

Efforts to increase food production can make no lasting impact on hunger if they do not go hand-in-hand with efforts to ensure a stable socio-economic environment conducive to ensure economic growth, which provides lasting benefits for the poor. Furthermore, an equitable domestic income distribution, land reforms, equal access to land, environmentally sustainable use of land, access to credit schemes and benefits, improved health care and access to education and training are all important elements when addressing poverty and hunger.

A fair system of world trade is another crucial element. Denmark is committed to help build the capacity of developing countries to take part in international trade negotiations on an equal footing with the industrialized nations. My Government urges developed countries that have not yet done so to ensure quota-free and duty-free market access for all exports but arms to the least developed countries.

Madam Chair, hunger denies women empowerment. The majority of the rural poor are women, and women contribute the majority of the workforce in the agricultural sector in most developing countries. Women's role in household food security and in providing nutrition must be recognized. Ensuring the rights of women, not least in rural areas, is an essential precondition to fight hunger and ensure food security.

The primary responsibility for fighting hunger and poverty rests with national governments. National governments must place hunger and poverty reduction efforts higher on their own agendas and show leadership in working for development. A country's domestic political and economic environment largely determines the level of food security. Good governance, the rule of law and respect for human rights should be the basis for ensuring a sustainable development that can make a lasting impact on hunger.

Domestic economic policies and institutions are also fundamental factors to ensure food security. Clear policies for food security must be on the agenda by national governments. Actions must be taken to improve the food production sectors and govenrments must ensure that these sectors are developed in a sustainable manner.

Partnerships at international and national levels are vital means in targeting hunger and poverty and in working towards reaching the goal of reducing hunger by half in 2015. Cooperation between all the stakeholders, including governments, international organizations and financial institutions, the private sector and NGOs, must be strengthened if we are to make any lasting impact on the lives of the poor and hungry.

Countries that make a determined efforts to improve their own development and place hunger reduction and poverty alleviation high on their agenda should not be left to their own devices. The international community has an obligation to assist those countries. In Monterrey, developed countries committed to make concrete efforts towards the target of 7 percent of GNP for Official Development Assistance (ODA). My own Government – as one of the few – has surpassed this level. A major part of this assistance is channeled to agricultural sector support programmes in least developed countries and to multilateral organizations active within agriculture and rural development.

Madam Chair, Denmark welcomes the political declaration, which has now been adopted. A broad-based, comprehensive and common effort is now needed in order to carry our commitments through and combat hunger and poverty. A precondition for such an effort is political will.

I can ensure you, Madam Chair, that Denmark has that will.

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