International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture

Prof. Esquinas-Alcázar has been awarded a prize by H.M. Queen Sofía of Spain


Former Secretary of the FAO’s Commission on Genetic Resources and of the Interim Secretariat of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources, Prof. José Esquinas-Alcázar was awarded a prize by Her Majesty Queen Sofía of Spain for his personal trajectory in the fight against hunger, which included, as one of its main outcomes, the adoption of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture in 2004.

The event took place in Madrid last week and included the participation of the Director-General of FAO, Dr. José Graziano da Silva.

Prof. Esquinas-Alcázar, who served in FAO for 30 years and played a vital role during the negotiations of the International Treaty, was awarded by the Queen of Spain the FAO-Spain prize for his personal trajectory together with other nine personalities and institutions that have contributed in raising awareness in the public opinion on the fight against hunger. Prof Esquinas reminded that 40.00 people die every day as consequence of hunger while we spend 4000 million USD dollars in weapons worldwide. In his speech, Prof. Esquinas alerted the audience on the many challenges that humankind still has to face in the race against hunger and remarked that “the problem of hunger is not a problem of food scarcity , but it is an issue of access and therefore an issue of political willingness and financial resources”.

At the ceremony, the Director-General of FAO, Dr. da Silva, said that we have to reorient our production and consumption patterns with a more sustainable approach in the context of climate change and higher pressures over natural resources. He said that we have to reduce food loss and highlighted the fact that “almost 1300 million tons of food are wasted every year, almost one third of the world production”.

Country interdependence

Prof. Esquinas stressed that globalization and interdependence forces countries to cooperate in the management of the natural resources and in the quest for sustainable solutions. “In a single boat with limited resources, Humanity has a common destiny and this is why hunger is today a luxury that we cannot afford anymore”, he said. He told participants that today we count on powerful scientific and financial instruments, but “they are only instruments and “we have to set up our own direction with ethical, political and moral values and it is our generation the first one that has the power to decide on this, which gives us a unique responsibility”. “We need to build a new governance, but not from scratch. We have to take into account the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the Right to Food is fundamental because without it there is no space for the realization of the others.”, he insisted. “United Nations and FAO as a governance forum are today more important than ever, but they need to be complemented by a people’s forum as a World’s parliament. In this context we consider the Committee on World Food Security as a modest first step in this direction. A major part of this governance is also FAO and the International Treaty, which today forms an important pillar for the global management of genetic resources.”, he added.

Additional material in Spanish:

Transcription of the speech of Prof. Esquinas

Speech of FAO’s Director-General 

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