| ERC/02/3 Sup.1|
TWENTY-THIRD FAO REGIONAL CONFERENCE FOR EUROPE
NICOSIA, CYPRUS, 29-31 MAY 2002
Agenda Item 5
WORLD FOOD SUMMIT FOLLOW-UP
1. Further to the conclusions contained in paras. 35 to 37 of document ERC/02/3, the Conference is invited to consider and comment on the conclusions and recommendations below.
I. Global Coalition against Hunger
Where the idea originated
I.1. In his address on the occasion of World Food Day on 16 October 2001 at FAO, Johannes Rau, President of the Federal Republic of Germany emphasized the need for a “global alliance against hunger and poverty.” He indicated that the realization of a vision of a “peaceful world free of hunger” was possible through the combined goodwill and energies of all, in both developed and developing countries.
I.2. Less than one month later, this same idea was echoed by Professor Jean Ziegler, Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, who, in preparing to present to the UN General Assembly the first-ever Report on the right to food, reiterated in a UN press conference that the “worldwide fight against terrorism needed to be matched by a global alliance against hunger”.
I.3. At the opening ceremony of the 31st Session of the FAO Conference, in November 2001, Patricio Aylwin, former President of the Republic of Chile, in concluding the McDougall Memorial Lecture, called for “agreements and more effective recommendations to overcome successfully the battle against hunger”.
I.4. During the Conference the Minister of Agriculture and head of the delegation of Italy, Giovanni Alemanno, declared that Italy, having been part of the worldwide coalition against terrorism, was convinced of the need to form a broad international coalition against hunger and poverty.
I.5. This same idea of a need for greater political will by global leaders to work together in fighting hunger was echoed by several other speakers at the Conference, including the Vice President of Guatemala and the heads of the delegation of Bangladesh and Malaysia. United States Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman stated that “we need to wage a war to eliminate world poverty and hunger, as with the war on terrorism, and success will require an international coalition united for collective action.”
I.6. The Heads of State and Government of 21 Ibero-American countries, at their 11th Summit in Lima on 23-24 November, 2001, called for active participation in the World Food Summit: five years later, “with the objective of promoting the establishment of an international coalition for the eradication of hunger in the world.”
FAO follow-up on the idea of a global alliance or coalition
I.7. In receiving high-level delegations from Member Nations at the Conference and discussing with them inter alia matters related to the World Food Summit: five years later (WFS:fyl), the Director-General noted that many of them were in favour of the concept of a world alliance against hunger and would support further development of the concept with a view to its adoption by the Summit in June.
I.8. The Director-General therefore wrote to Heads of State and Government on 10 December 2001 drawing their attention to the increasing support that was being voiced for the concept of a global coalition against hunger, and suggesting that such a proposal could be a possible outcome of the negotiations for mobilizing “political will”, which is one of the two objectives of the WFS:fyl, the other being “resource mobilization”.
Consulting FAO members
I.9. The Director-General has also encouraged initial discussion of the concept among Members in various fora. In his addresses to the Regional Conferences for Africa, and for the Near East, the Director-General observed that such a global coalition could represent a concrete example of political will and an important step in the elimination of the despair and anger which so favour extremism.
I.10. The Regional Conference for Africa, in its report on Preparations for the WFS:fyl—Regional Dimensions, “recommended that member countries join the ‘Global Coalition against Hunger’ to combine forces in order to achieve the basic pre-conditions for sustainable development.”
I.11. The Regional Conference for the Near East, in its report, “endorsed the establishment of an ‘International Alliance Against Hunger and Poverty’, based on the call made by the President of the Federal Republic of Germany on the occasion of World Food Day 2001 in Rome”. It further requested FAO to “formulate a specific and clear operational modality” for effecting the alliance, and to “submit the proposed modality to Member countries for consideration and approval.”
I.12. Members attending the Regional Conferences for Latin America and the Caribbean, for Asia and the Pacific, and for Europe, are therefore invited to put forward their views and suggestions on 1) how to add operational substance to the concept of a global coalition or alliance, and 2) how the concept might be taken forward, particularly within the context of the WFS:fyl.
II. The International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources
for Food and Agriculture
II.1. The 1996 World Food Summit attributed great importance to the conservation and sustainable use of genetic resources for achieving food security and sustainable agriculture. In the follow-up to the Summit, FAO member countries have completed the negotiations for the revision of the International Undertaking, in harmony with the Convention on Biological Diversity, and the Thirty-first FAO Conference has approved the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, whose objectives are “the conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture, as well as a fair and equitable sharing of benefits derived from the use of these resources”. The Treaty includes an article on Farmers’ Rights. All countries and regions are highly inter-dependent in relation to Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. The agriculture of the European region is highly dependent on the genetic resources of beans, maize, potato and sunflower, which originated in other regions of the world. On the other hand, crops such as aparagus and cabbage, etc, which originated in this region, are of great importance for agricultural development in other parts of the world.
II.2. The Treaty establishes a Multilateral System of Facilitated Access and Benefit-sharing for key crops, and makes provision for the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from their utilization. The Treaty will enter into force once ratified by forty countries. The Governing Body of the Treaty will be composed of those countries that have ratified it. A number of important provisions of the Treaty related to Material Transfer Agreements, Intellectual Property Rights, mechanisms for the sharing of benefits, and the financial strategy for the implementation priority activities, plans and programmes have been left to be developed by the first session of the Governing Body. The Director-General has written to the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of each country, asking them to accelerate the ratification process, and, if possible, to ratify the Treaty before the Summit in June 2002.
II.3. The Regional Conference may wish to recognize that the adoption by the Thirty-first Session of the Conference of a binding International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, whose objectives are “the conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of their use, in harmony with the Convention on Biological Diversity, for sustainable agriculture and food security”, offers the region and the international community in general an important legal instrument dealing with resources on which food security depends. The Regional Conference may wish to recommend that countries ratify the Treaty soonest, possibly before the FAO Summit in June, as suggested by the Director-General, in order to ensure good regional representation in the first meeting of the Governing Body, where a number of crucial policy and financial provisions of the Treaty will be developed.