The third World Summit on Food Security opened on 16 November 2009 at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) headquarters in Rome, Italy. Following the opening ceremony, Heads of delegations adopted the Declaration of the World Summit on Food Security. Heads of delegation from 44 countries and UN organizations, as well as His Holiness the Pope Benedict XVI, made statements in a plenary session throughout the day. In the afternoon, delegates convened in a parallel round table on the impacts of food, economic and financial crises on food security.
Editor’s Note: For text and audio coverage of some of the speakers, please visit: http://www.fao.org/wsfs/wsfs-addresses/wsfs-mondaypm/en/
FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf welcomed delegates to the Summit. Renato Schifani, President of the Italian Senate, emphasized that food and water access are universal rights, and encouraged renewed multilateralism to eliminate hunger and inequality. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said there can be no food security without climate security and emphasized the importance of the upcoming Copenhagen climate negotiations and of agreement on a legally-binding climate treaty. Mayor Giovanni Alemanno, said Rome was proud to host the Summit.
Diouf warned that international interest in the issue of hunger is waning, as indicated by the absence of some key world leaders at the Summit. He called for greater investment in agriculture to overcome hunger. He expressed hope that the reformed FAO Committee on World Food Security (CFS) will serve as the foremost international platform for effectively addressing food security.
Silvio Berlusconi, Prime Minister of Italy and Chair of the Summit, stressed the need to turn words into deeds. Delegates elected as Summit Vice-Chairs: Mahaman Moussa (Niger); Li Zhengdong (China); Eva Kjer Hansen (Denmark); Michelle Bachelet Jeria (Chile); Abdul Latif Jamal Rashid (Iraq); Alonzo Fulgham (US); and David Carter (New Zealand). They elected Chairs for the round tables. Delegates adopted the Agenda (WSFS 2009/1 Rev.1) and the Timetable (WSFS 2009/INF/1 Rev.1).
Mohammad Saeed Nouri-Naeeni, Chair of the Open-Ended Working Group, presented the Declaration of the World Summit on Food Security, which delegates adopted by acclamation.
Leader of the Revolution Muammar El-Gheddafi, LIBYAN ARAB JAMAHIRIYA, noted the absence of several rich countries from the meeting, and evoked the debt owed to Africa for years of colonial looting of its resources. He called on FAO to set up improved seed banks to address food security. President Mohamed Hosni Mubarak, EGYPT, emphasized the basic right to food, and called attention to the indivisibility of food security from sustainable development, and unjust trade practices.
Calling hunger the cruelest and most tangible sign of poverty, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI lamented the weakness of current food security mechanisms, and urged better market access for poor countries.
President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, BRAZIL, shared his country’s experience in achieving ahead of schedule the Millennium Development Goal to halve poverty and hunger by 2015, including through political will and social programmes for smallholder farms and women. Amir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, QATAR, stressed that poverty and hunger relate not only to food security but also to global security. Noting that global cooperation among governments in response to the financial crisis averted a depression, President Michelle Bachelet Jeria, CHILE, stressed the need for cooperation on food security to prevent social disaster.
President Danilo Türk, SLOVENIA, highlighted policy coherence, vulnerability assessment, rapid response, balancing food production and greenhouse gas emissions, and the role of institutions in addressing food security. President Bharrat Jagdeo, GUYANA, suggested tackling food security by campaigning for the attention of people in developed countries so that political will is built for their leaders to provide funding to the developing world. President Amadou Toumani Toure, MALI, urged increased investment in the agriculture sector, regulation of trade and combating speculation around food pricing.
President James Alix Michel, SEYCHELLES, suggested that the duty of developed countries is not to provide aid, but to create conducive conditions for development, emphasizing technology transfer, capacity building and market access. José Manuel Barroso, President of the EUROPEAN COMMISSION, pointed to the central role agriculture plays in fighting climate change and guaranteeing food security. He said raising additional financing for food security must be a key outcome in Copenhagen, and highlighted the EU’s recent pledge at the G8 Summit in L’Aquila.
Maud Olofsson, Deputy Prime Minister of SWEDEN which currently holds the Presidency of the European Union (EU), said increased resources should be coupled with good governance. She welcomed the reform of the CFS, and said agriculture could be the solution to climate change. President Bingu wa Mutharika, MALAWI, said human rights and rule of law cannot be achieved if people are hungry. He called on the private sector to increase investment in agriculture. Vice-Prime Minister Liangyu Hui, CHINA, said freedom from hunger is: vital to human survival; a fundamental human right; and important for social stability. He expressed hope for a positive outcome at the Copenhagen climate negotiations.
Prime Minister António Paulo Kassoma, ANGOLA, presented his country’s food security strategy, highlighting economic diversification, sustainable agriculture, social security programmes and an intersectoral platform to integrate civil society. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed, BANGLADESH, welcomed the intention to strengthen global governance of food security, as expressed in the Summit Declaration. She called for essential funds to implement the Declaration, and said the US$20 billion pledged at L’Aquila is encouraging, but insufficient. President Bamir Topi, ALBANIA, emphasized the need to invest in rural infrastructure to align farmer wages to wages in other sectors. Prime Minister Sibusiso Barnabas Dlamini, SWAZILAND, urged increased investments in agriculture to help solve food insecurity, and invited international partners to assist in implementing a national income support programme for farmers.
President Rupiah Bwezani Banda, ZAMBIA, suggested increasing investment in rural development and infrastructure and targeting support for small-scale farmers. President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, the UNITED REPUBLIC OF TANZANIA, noted that food security is inseparable from the environment agenda, and called for a positive decision at Copenhagen. President Runaldo Ronald Venetiaan, SURINAME, highlighted his country’s successful experience in food production, cautioned against the effects of climate change for food security in low-lying areas, and urged accelerated research of changing conditions.
President François Bozize Yangouvonda, the CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC, lamented the effect of spiking food prices on agriculture, and urged private investment. President Idriss Déby Itno, CHAD, warned that failure to respond to the food security challenge can lead to general insecurity. He referred to climate change, and requested support in addressing the plight of Lake Chad. President Ali Bongo Ondimba, GABON, said the flow of direct foreign investment must increase, highlighted capacity building, and welcomed reform of the CFS.
Captain Regent Francesco Mussoni, SAN MARINO, noted the reduction of agricultural investments in recent years, emphasizing the role of open markets and technology transfer in reversing this trend. Pointing to the importance of agricultural investments, President Pierre Nkurunziza, BURUNDI, stressed that external factors like climate change and fuel price increases urged governments to adjust budgets for agriculture. Describing improvements her country had achieved through increased spending on agriculture, Prime Minister Luísa Dias Diogo, MOZAMBIQUE, called for new financial resources to boost agricultural output and cope with new challenges like climate change.
Stressing that economic progress in poor countries will have positive effects on international trade, Abdulaziz Abdulghani, Speaker of the Shoora Council, YEMEN, called for a mechanism to boost technology transfer. President Ahmed Abdallah Mohamed Sambi, the COMOROS, said Africa has the opportunity to become a major global bread basket, but has to improve regional organization and needs assistance from the international community as well as access to markets.
Referring to the proliferation of summits, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, SOUTH AFRICA, expressed hope for setting measurable targets and timeframes for concrete action, and for a follow-up mechanism and participatory global governance system based on the centrality of the UN. First Lady Vanda Guiomar Pignato, EL SALVADOR, recalled the disastrous consequences of the recent hurricane, and stressed work on prevention. She insisted that food and nutritional security be considered a legal right, and eradication of hunger a norm of international law.
Ahmad Mohamed Ali, President of the Islamic Development Bank, highlighted the Bank’s agreement with the FAO, made on 15 November 2009, to commit US$1 billion to agricultural development in poor countries that belong to both organizations.
Ministers from several countries made statements. Elena Espinosa, SPAIN, highlighted Spain’s increased aid for food security, agricultural and rural development and nutrition. Yelena Skrynnik, the RUSSIAN FEDERATION, outlined her country’s plan to significantly increase grain exports. Sharad Pawar, INDIA, said agriculture is the most powerful growth engine, and investment in this sector should not be reduced because of the financial crisis. Ilse Aigner, GERMANY, said agricultural development must be driven by developing countries.
Emphasizing that two thirds of the US$20 billion pledged in L´Aquila will be delivered by the EU, Bruno le Maire, FRANCE, called for an important role for the Global Partnership for Agriculture and Food Security. He identified three main elements: developing country commitments to pursue food security; greater consistency of international policies on food security; and better scientific expertise, delivered by international experts.
Lars Peder Brekk, NORWAY, said large-scale agricultural production can increase output, but also fosters global warming, desertification and ecosystem deterioration. He called for an integrated approach to target agicultural development, biodiversity and climate change.
ROUND TABLE 1
This round table addressed the negative impacts of the food, economic and financial crises on world food security. Co-Chair Saeed Masri, Minister of Agriculture, Jordan, discussed the impacts of the economic crisis and developed-country agricultural subsidies on Jordan’s smallholder farmers. Co-Chair Beverley Oda, Minister for International Cooperation, Canada, stressed that the majority of smallholder farmers are women and highlighted the need to untie food aid. She stressed that following a food crisis, partnerships must move from relief to development.
Josette Sheeran, Executive Director, World Food Programme, differentiated responses to absolute food unavailability and food inaccessibility caused by high food prices or poor connections between farmers and markets. She stressed the need to develop food safety nets. Vashee Ajay, Farming First, emphasized that national governments must invest in smallholder farming and local food markets. He said assistance must be channeled partly through farm organizations. Ajay highlighted that agricultural productive capacity exists in developed and developing countries.
Koos Richelle, Director-General of the EC’s EuropeAid Co-operation Office, noted the poor functioning of early warning systems for food security. He said better statistical information is needed to identify countries in need and actions required. Amit Roy, President and CEO, International Centre for Soil Fertility and Agricultural Development, said food security can provide an opportunity for smallholder farmers to access markets. He emphasized the importance of access to market information and inputs, particularly fertilizers.
Participating ministers and delegates discussed, inter alia: the food crisis as a crisis of access; causality among financial, economic, climate and food crises; trade reforms; national-level planning; public-private partnerships; and post-harvest losses.