26 September 2009
Secretary-General
SG/SM/12496

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Food, Nutritional Security ‘Foundation of a Decent Life’

 

Says Secretary-General at Headquarters Event

 


Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s opening remarks at an event on partnering for food security, today, 26 September:


I am pleased to welcome you to this important event, and especially [United States] Secretary of State [Hillary] Clinton, who is showing exemplary leadership in the evolving movement for food security.


Food and nutritional security are the foundations of a decent life, a sound education and, indeed, the achievement of all the Millennium Development Goals.


As a boy I experienced the insecurity of not knowing whether there would be food available the next day.  It is something I will never forget.


There is more than enough food in the world, yet today, more than one billion people are hungry.  This is unacceptable. 


The food crisis of 2008 brought home to everyone what experts have been telling us for years -- the world’s food systems are in crisis.  They are failing too many people and many of our poorer nations.


When the food crisis hit, the United Nations system responded with rapid and robust support. 


The World Food Programme built up food and nutrition safety nets and raised record funding to reach the world's most vulnerable people.  The World Bank and the whole United Nations system have supplemented this effort in support of millions of men, women and children.  Many nations supported this effort, and the European Commission established a 1 billion euro facility. 


But the food crisis is far from over.  Ever more people are denied the food they need because prices are stubbornly high, because their purchasing power has fallen due to the economic crisis, or because rains have failed and reserve stocks of grain have been eaten.


The challenges of food security demand multilateral commitment, creativity and leadership.


Last year I set up the high-level task force of United Nations system and Bretton Woods agencies.  Its comprehensive approach is anchored in the right to food.  It links development, trade and humanitarian action.


Our goal is to initiate a new era for agricultural development.  A revolutionary approach that will support smallholder farmers, especially women.  A transformation of markets and trading systems so they work better for the poor. 


Many of our partners in Africa are championing this approach.  The Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme is supporting their national action plans. 


Many countries have pledged funds and political support for food security.  The Government of Italy encouraged twenty-six countries to sign up to the food security statement during the L’Aquila G-8 summit in July.  Its five principles echo those that we used as the basis for the Comprehensive Framework for Action developed by my task force last year.


Programmes must be country-led.  Our approaches must be comprehensive, addressing the full range of issues that affect hunger and food security.


Assistance must be strategically coordinated, multilateral agencies must have a strong role, and national efforts must be supported by a sustained commitment of financial resources.


There is increasing appreciation of these five principles.  Strong leadership from United States President [Barack] Obama and Secretary of State Clinton encouraged pledges of $20 billion.  We must ensure that the money is disbursed promptly and effectively.


Now is the time to demonstrate to food-insecure nations and communities that we want to build on these principles, develop a road map for action and secure tangible results.  I would like to see this momentum -- with its emphasis on the principles and on country-led processes -- carried forward during the Rome Summit on Food Security in November, and in all the activities of our High-Level Task Force.


I look forward to hearing your views on how we can make this happen in an efficient and accountable manner.


With these brief opening remarks, I now turn over to the co-host of this event, United States Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton.  You have the floor.


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For information media • not an official record