International community to address hunger, food security

by Bryan Salvage
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ROME, ITALY — The international community committed to investing more in agriculture and to eradicating hunger during the three-day World Summit on Food Security, which ended Nov. 18. The Summit marked "an important step toward the achievement of our common objective — a world free from hunger," said Jacques Diouf, director-general of the Food and Agriculture of the United Nations (F.A.O.), the host of the event.

Sixty heads of state and government and 191 ministers from 182 countries and the European Community attended the Summit. Personalities included Pope Benedict XVI, who said in his address the rules governing international trade should be separated from "the logic of profit viewed as an end in itself."

But the official Declaration adopted by the Summit last Monday contains neither measurable targets nor specific deadlines that would have made it easier to monitor implementation, Mr. Diouf said. F.A.O. proposed setting a target of 2025 for the total eradication of hunger from the face of the Earth and increasing Official Development Assistance to agriculture to $44 billion per year for investment in developing-country agriculture and rural infrastructure.

The Summit also made four important commitments:

1. A pledge to renew efforts to achieve the First Millennium Development Goal of halving hunger by 2015, and eradicating hunger from the world at the earliest date:

2. A pledge to improve international coordination and the governance of food security through a profound reform of F.A.O.'s Committee on World Food Security (C.F.S.). This would become a central component of the Global Partnership for Agriculture, Food Security and Nutrition;

3. A promise to increase domestic and international funding for agriculture, food security and rural development in developing countries and significantly increase their share in public development aid; and

4. A decision to promote new investments in agricultural production and productivity in developing countries in order to reduce poverty and achieve food security for all.

During the Summit, five Rome Principles for Sustainable Global Food Security were also adopted:

1. Invest in country-owned plans channeling resources to well-designed and results-based programs and partnerships;

2. Foster strategic coordination at all levels to improve governance, promote better allocation of resources and avoid duplication;

3. Strive for a twin-track approach to food security including both short-term emergency and long-term development measures;

4. Work to improve the efficiency, coordination and effectiveness of multilateral institutions; and

5. Ensure sustained and substantial commitment by all partners to investment in agriculture and food security and nutrition.

Summit attendees also agreed to "proactively face the challenges of climate change to food security and the need for adaptation of, and mitigation in agriculture... with particular attention to small agricultural producers and vulnerable populations."

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