1 November 2012
General Assembly
GA/EF/3348

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

Sixty-seventh General Assembly

Second Committee

18th & 19th Meetings (AM & PM)


Global Commitment to Sustainable Urban Development Will Be Reinvigorated Through


2016 World Summit, ‘Urban Agenda for 21st Century’, Second Committee Told

 


Also Debates Agricultural Development and Food Security


The 2016 habitat world summit — Habitat III — should reinvigorate, at the highest political level, the global commitment to sustainable urban development through the accelerated implementation of a new “Urban Agenda for the 21st Century”, the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) was told today.


Dr. Joan Clos, the Under Secretary General and Executive Director of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) told delegations that the Summit, which was called for by the General Assembly last year, should produce a focused, political outcome document with clear, measurable and time-bound goals, which were aligned to the sustainable development goals based on the outcome document of Rio+20 and also aligned to the post-2015 United Nations development agenda.


As the Committee began its consideration of issues relating to UN-Habitat, Dr. Clos introduced two reports of the Secretary-General on the Implementation of the outcome of the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II) and strengthening of UN-Habitat, which contains recommendations on preparations for the Conference, and one on the coordinated implementation of the Habitat Agenda.  He underscored that the preparatory process leading up to the “World Summit on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development” (Habitat III) should be inclusive of all relevant stakeholders, especially local authorities and other Habitat agenda partners.


Further, he recommended the Conference be organized at the highest possible level, which would include the participation of Heads of State and Government.  He further proposed that its theme be “Sustainable Urban Development:  the Future of Urbanization”.  It was important not to underestimate communication advances, as social media was playing an increasing role in getting the message out, he said, highlighting that the use of Facebook and Twitter helped reach thousands of people during this year’s Sixth Session of the World Urban Forum.


In closing, after touching on the progress made in organizational reforms, he urged the Committee to expedite discussion and adoption of the resolution on the scope and organization of Habitat III, so the preparatory process could start.


In the discussion that followed, speakers outlined the challenges their countries faced with increasing urbanization and the need for strengthening UN-Habitat.  The representative of India said, for example, that by 2050, with developing countries accounting for most of the change, the global urban population was likely to increase to 70 per cent.  Over the last few decades, India had seen a massive shift in its population from rural to urban areas, and presently, Indian cities and towns constituted the world’s second largest urban system and contributed to half of the country’s gross domestic product.  Within the next two decades, India was poised to have over 590 million people living in urban areas, producing more than 70 per cent of GDP (gross domestic product) and accounting for 70 per cent of the new employment created.


That growth in urban economic activity required infrastructure support in the sectors of power, telecom, roads, water supply, sanitation, solid waste management and mass transportation, he said.  In that respect, he called on international entities to contribute to further capitalization of the United Nations Habitat and Human Settlements Foundation, so as to enable UN-Habitat to provide more financial and seed capital support for slum upgrading and prevention.


The representative of Myanmar, speaking on behalf of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said that the world was witnessing the fastest urbanization in history, as 90 per cent of the world’s population in a little over a generation from now would be living in towns and cities.  The main challenges facing cities and towns were unemployment, social and economic inequalities, unsustainable energy consumption patterns, urban sprawl, high percentages of people living in slums and high levels of vulnerability to natural disasters.  Nowadays, approximately a quarter of urban residents — more than 850 million people — lived in slums, and 90 per cent of the world’s urban expansion was in developing countries.  As the proportion of humanity living in the urban environment grows, so too does the need to strengthen the urban focus of efforts to reduce poverty and promote sustainable development, he said.


Also, as the Committee was meeting for the first time this week following the devastating impact of Hurricane Sandy on the Caribbean and the East Coast of the United States, including major damage and flooding in New York and New Jersey, many delegations said the storm was relevant to today’s agenda item and a reminder of the need to ensure sustainable human settlements in the face of worsening climate change.


The representative of Japan, for example, said her country had experience in disasters, including the devastating earthquake and tsunami last year, and therefore, she believed it to be her country’s duty to share with the international community its experience in disaster reduction and preparation.  It was time to include disaster reduction in the mainstream agenda.  Underlining the connection between strong disaster resilience and sustainable development, she said that was crucial to building future cities.


She encouraged the international community to “gather our wisdom”, based on experiences and lessons learned from Rio+20, as well as the Habitat II Conference.  She hoped that Habitat III would be handled in the most effective and efficient way possible, implementing a more holistic approach and integrating the participation of local and national Governments, as well as the private sector.  The agenda should be based on assuring human security. 


Speakers included representatives of Algeria (for the “Group of 77” developing countries and China), Antigua and Barbuda (for the Caribbean Community), Bangladesh, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, Turkey, China, Singapore, Morocco, Brazil and Bahrain.  A representative of the European Union delegation also spoke.


At its afternoon meeting, the Committee began its consideration of its agenda item on agricultural development and food security.  Nikhil Seth, Director, Division for Sustainable Development, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, introduced the Secretary-General’s related reports.  Speakers on that issue included representatives of Algeria (for the Group of 77 and China), Russian Federation, Thailand (also for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), Nepal, Chile, Belarus, Mexico, Ukraine, Bolivia, Australia, India, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Singapore, China, Iraq, Canada, Germany and Ireland.  A representative of the European Union delegation also spoke in the afternoon. 


Due to technicalities caused by the storm, the Committee cancelled its meeting previously scheduled for Friday, 2 November.  The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Monday, 5 November, to continue its discussion on agricultural development and food security.


Background


The Second Committee (Economic and Social) had before it the Secretary-General’s report on Implementation of the outcome of the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II) and strengthening of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) (document A/67/263), which contains a summary of progress made in preparations for the third United Nations conference on housing and sustainable urban development (Habitat II).  It also discusses the outcome of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development relevant to the work of UN-Habitat.  The report reviews progress in the implementation of a number of programmatic components of the Habitat Agenda and other issues highlighted in General Assembly resolution 66/207, including progress in the implementation of the medium-term strategic and institutional plan for the period 2008-2013, slum upgrading, cities and climate change, and post-disaster and post-conflict reconstruction.


The report concludes with a number of recommendations, relating to the scope, modalities, format and organization of Habitat III and to the implementation of the Habitat Agenda and the strengthening of UN-Habitat.  The most important event in the area of human settlements and urban development in the next few years would be Habitat III, and its preparatory process would place significant demands on Member States, UN-Habitat and the United Nations system as a whole, the report states.  It was important for the preparatory process to be inclusive of all relevant stakeholders, especially local authorities and other Habitat Agenda partners.  The report recommends that Habitat III be organized at the highest possible level, including Heads of State and Government, or other representatives.  It should focus on the identification of accomplishments, new challenges, opportunities and areas where further efforts were needed through the implementation of a New Urban Agenda for the twenty-first century.


The report also underscores the important role that cities and their local authorities can play in climate change migration and adaptation and in the attainment of sustainable development, in general.  It recommends that Governments provide sufficient support to local authorities to enable them to put in place urban or local climate change mitigation and adaptation policies and strategies.  Governments are encouraged to establish national habitat committees as a mechanism for enhancing national dialogue with respect to a number of issues, including creation of decent urban jobs and improving urban design.


Also before the committee was the note by the Secretary-General on the Coordinated implementation of the Habitat Agenda (document A/67/316) which transmits the report on the coordinated implementation of the Habitat Agenda (E/2012/65) to the General Assembly for consideration at its sixty-seventh session under item 21 of the provisional agenda pursuant to Economic and Social Council resolution 202/27.


Statement by Executive Director


Doctor JOAN CLOS, Under Secretary General and Executive Director of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), introduced two reports of the Secretary-General, one on the outcome of the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II) and the strengthening of the UN Settlement programme.  The other was on “coordinated implementation of the Habitat Agenda”, which was presented to the Economic and Social Council.  The preparatory process for Habitat III would place significant demand on Member States, UN-Habitat, and the United Nations system as a whole, he said.  Thus, it was important for the preparatory process to be inclusive of all relevant stakeholders, especially local authorities and other Habitat Agenda Partners.  He recommended that the conference be organized at the highest possible level, which would include the participation of Heads of State and Government, which could therefore be called the “World Summit on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III)”.  He further proposed that its theme be “sustainable urban development:  the Future of Urbanization”.


The outcome of the Conference should be a focused political document with clear, measurable and time-bound goals and targets, which were aligned to the “Sustainable Development Goals” based on the outcome document of Rio+20 and also aligned to the post-2015 United Nations development agenda.  He recommended that the Preparatory Committee hold an organizational meeting and three substantive sessions.  At the first session in 2014, the Preparatory Committee would undertake a comprehensive review and assessment of progress achieved in the implementation of the Habitat Agenda.  During the second session in 2015, the Committee could start negotiating on the text of a draft and during the third session in 2016 immediately prior to the Conference, the Committee could finalise a draft outcome document for adoption.


Turning to organizational reform, he said UN-Habitat had made significant progress.  The new structure consists of seven thematic areas and corresponding branches.  A new Management Office had been established and a new Project Office had been created to coordinate normative and operational field work.  Regional offices had also been strengthened and a new Regional Office for the Arab States had been created in Cairo.  UN-Habitat’s work would continue to be guided by the Medium-term Strategic and Institutional Plan 2008-2013 until the end of 2013, after which the new Strategic Plan for 2014-2019 would take effect.  In closing, he made a few remarks on the Sixth Session of the World Urban Forum, which was held in September.  Social media had played a major role during the Conference, he said highlighting that through Facebook the Forum reached almost 80,000 people, as well as recorded a total of 1,820 new followers on Twitter.  For the first time, World Urban Forum sessions were on live stream, allowing people from around the world to follow the discussions, he said.


Finally, he urged the Committee to expedite its discussion and adoption of a resolution on the scope and organization of Habitat III to enable the preparatory process to begin.


At its afternoon session, it was expected to consider the issue of agricultural development and food security, with two reports relating to the matter.


The report of the Secretary-General on Agriculture development and food security (Document A/67/294) examined the challenges to achieving food and nutrition security and provides an update on progress in implementing sustainable agricultural policies and practices in line with the Five Rome Principles for Sustainable Global Food Security.  It cites the main challenges and describes some of the progress made in addressing those challenges, emphasising that the adoption of the outcome document of the United Nations Conference for Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in June 2012 is an encouraging development in the fight against land degradation.


The report calls for a growth in climate resistant agriculture, improvements in agricultural productivity, enhanced food system diversity and improved agricultural trade.  It also recommends improvements to early warning systems, and a focus upon countries with particular vulnerability to price shocks and food emergencies.  The report proposes as a priority the closing of the gender gap in agriculture, particularly the improvement of women’s access to productive resources and opportunities.


Also before the Committee was a note from the Secretary-General transmitting the Report on the main decisions and policy recommendations of the Committee on World Food Security (Document A/67/86- E/2012/71).  It outlines the Committee’s approach following reform and briefly describes the main outcomes and decisions taken by the Committee at its thirty-seventh session, in October 2011, and, where appropriate, updates on follow-up actions.  The report notes that, during its second post-reform session, the Committee focused on agenda items relating to its role and to further implementing reform.  The report states that the Committee’s Bureau was mandated to call for an additional negotiation session to finalize the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security as soon as possible.  The report also notes the Committee’s request for plans for future work from the High-level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition and its expressed support for an inclusive consultation process within the Committee for the development and broader ownership of principles for responsible agricultural investment that enhance food security and nutrition.


Statements


LARBI DJACTA ( Algeria) spoke on behalf of the “Group of 77” Developing Countries and China, pointing out that by 2030 six out of every ten people would live in cities.  That “unprecedented demographic shift” was focused on developing countries and had also led to an enormous growth in the number of slum dwellers.  Sustainable urban development was also challenged by climate change and other negative environmental trends, with cities in the developing world ill-equipped to formulate and implement climate change measures and to build the necessary resilience.  Sustainable urbanisation was a key priority of the “ Rio+20” outcome document, he said, and a holistic approach was essential.  The United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) already played a key role in coordinating the implementation of the Habitat Agenda and could be involved more.


Referring to UN-Habitat’s organisational review, he expressed concern that the programme had not been provided with the necessary core resources to support countries in responding to the enormous urban challenges they faced and he called for adequate and predictable financial contributions to be made.  He looked forward to discussions aimed at improving the lives of slum dwellers and to a strong preparatory process for the third United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Development (Habitat III).  That, he said, would require a regular review of the resource needs of the conference, as well as the adoption of innovative ways of supporting the preparatory process.


TUMASIE BLAIR ( Antigua and Barbuda) spoke on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and aligned himself with the “Group of 77” and China.  He said that developing countries, in particular, faced huge challenges in establishing sustainable human settlements and adequate shelter, because of the linkages between population growth and the upsurge of slums, poverty and lack of access to basic essentials like water and sanitation.  He called for full support to be given to the preparatory process for the Habitat III conference, with financial and conference support services especially important to ensure the full participation of all countries.  He called for more to be done to change consumption patterns and lifestyles, particularly with regard to land use and urban sprawl.  A comprehensive and integrated approach was needed to ensure the implementation and fulfilment of internationally agreed goals on the provision of adequate shelter for all, as well as slum eradiation.  Policies to achieve that should be nationally-owned and nationally-led, he said adding a call for sharing of experiences on a regional level, as well as the formulation of common regional policies within the context of the Habitat Agenda.


He said the “ Rio+20” outcome document incorporated environmental responsibilities, social awareness and economic vitality as important tools in sustainable development and he called for financial and technical support to address growing demands for assistance at both national and regional levels.  Currently, the resources the Programme received were not enough for its many tasks, with an imbalance between core and non-core funding particularly concerning.


HAN THU (Myanmar), speaking on behalf of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and aligning himself with the Group of 77 and China, said that in a little over a generation from now, two thirds of the global populations would be living in towns and cities as the fastest urbanization in history.  The main challenges facing cities and towns were unemployment, unsustainable energy consumption patterns, urban sprawl, high percentages of people living in slums and high levels of vulnerability to natural disasters.  Nowadays, approximately a quarter of urban residents - more than 850 million people - lived in slums.  Ninety per cent of the world’s urban expansion was in developing countries.  As the proportion of humanity living in the urban environment grew, so did the need to strengthen the urban focus of efforts to reduce poverty and promote sustainable development, he said.


It was clear that the urbanization had been a source of development and that it could be used as a powerful tool for transforming production capacities and income levels in developing countries.  The ASEAN stressed the importance of the preparatory process for the 2016 Third United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III).  He was “heartened” by the fact that a holistic approach to urban development and human settlements could provide for affordable housing and infrastructure.  Further, ASEAN emphasized the four fundamental prerequisites promoted by UN-Habitat.  Those were effective political decision-making, good understanding of the use and productivity of common goods, effective governance capacity and adequate technical capacity to plan, develop and manage the city for planned urban expansion.


At the 20th ASEAN Summit held last year, he said leaders committed to undertake various programmes for raising domestic awareness on climate change adaptation and mitigation towards a low emissions society, including through enhancement of public and private incorporation of climate change in educational curricula.  During a recent China-ASEAN Forum on Ecological and Liveable Cities, all agreed that such development should be people-oriented, he said, and choices must be made to achieve the harmonious coexistence of human, nature and city, as well as to promote the integration and coordination of urbanization and modern civilization. 


ABULKALAM ABDUL MOMEN ( Bangladesh) expressed condolences to the victims of Hurricane Sandy.  The storm was relevant to today’s agenda and a reminder of the need to ensure sustainable human settlements in the face of worsening climate change.  He was encouraged by UN-Habitat’s adoption of a medium-term strategic and institutional plan for the 2008-2013 period.  He called for expanding UN-Habitat’s resource base, which was currently inadequate to implement its core mandates.  All nations should integrate sustainable urbanization into national development strategies.  Least developed countries could not execute any Habitat plan without global aid.  Sustainable urban development should be based on environmentally sound technologies.  An estimated $20 billion annually was needed through 2020 to reach the Millennium target on slum upgrading and to prevent future slum formation.  But, official development assistance (ODA) to the urban sector had remained largely stagnant at $2 billion annually in real terms for the past decade.  He called on developed countries to increase the flow of ODA in support of pro-poor housing and urban development in developing countries.


The concerns of the most vulnerable countries, especially least developed countries, should be reflected in United Nations reports dealing with UN-Habitat issues, he said.  Poor road communication, port facilities, electricity, telephone and land management in those countries had throttled industrialization and development.  Their investments in housing and basic urban infrastructure were far behind the level of demographic growth and the physical expansion of towns and cities.  They received inadequate international support.  That trend was worrying, as was the fact that the Secretary-General’s reports under the UN-Habitat item lacked specific information on those countries.  He hoped data that was lacking would be forthcoming, particularly as more than 800 million people were living in slums or near slums with a very poor standard of living. 


OCTAVIO ERRÁZURIZ ( Chile) associated himself with the “Group of 77” and China, saying that Chile shared the world’s commitment to sustainable urbanisation and expected the subject to be addressed in depth during Habitat III and in its preparatory processes.  On the basis of the work done by the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) and other conferences, he called for a holistic approach to urban development, human settlements and infrastructure, prioritising affordable housing, improvement of slums and urban renewal, as acknowledged in the outcome document of “Rio+20”.  Following the earthquake in Chile in 2010, city planning had become focused more on exposure to risk and ensuring the ability to resist natural disasters.  A new urban development policy reflecting that change was expected to be adopted this year.  He also highlighted the importance of continued strengthening of UN-Habitat to enable it to respond to current, changing requirements and emphasised the need to continue revision of its governance structure to improve transparency, efficiency and effectiveness, as well as the need to ensure that it received adequate financial resources.


HUSSEIN HANIFF ( Malaysia) said his country supported the important role of UN-Habitat, as it aimed to achieve significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers by 2020.  Unprecedented numbers of people were moving to cities in search of better living standards; rapid urban growth and consequent slums was becoming a common problem in developed countries, as well as developing ones.  His country welcomed the third United Nations conference on housing and sustainable development, and hoped that it would ensure balance between economic development, social development and environmental protection - interdependent and mutually reinforcing components of sustainable urban development.


Malaysia would continue to support the Medium-term Strategic and Institutional Plan for 2008-2013 and financing operations in support of pro-poor housing and urban development, he said.  It also hoped the plan would provide renewed impetus for the Habitat Agenda and to achieve the targets of Millennium Development Goal 7.  At the national level, Malaysia’s Housing Assistance Programme would provide 50,000 new and restored houses for the “poor and hardcore poor”, aiming to eradicate urban poverty by 2013.  Meanwhile, House Rent Assistance, based on the United Nations e-Kasih national poverty databank system, was being used to avoid overlapping aid programmes.  With those and other initiatives, his delegation was confident Malaysia was on track to meet Millennium Development Goal targets on poverty eradication by 2015, he said.


JORGE LAGUNA ( Mexico) said that cities were the “motors” of economic growth and spaces of innovation and opportunity.  Cities, equity and urban development must become key points on which the international community builds its urban agenda in the 21st century and in the post-2015 development era.  He believed that UN-Habitat contributed an essential tool within the United Nations.  As had been mentioned, he said the review exercise was intended to strengthen transparency, as well as implement innovative measures.  He was convinced that the message of the Executive Director was timely and he further invited the timely delivery of the results of the evaluation.  He pledged support for the holding of Habitat III, which he was convinced was vital in promoting different agendas, including sustainable development post-2015.  Finally, he hoped the modalities of Habitat III would strengthen the inclusiveness and involvement of all Member States.  The World Urban Forum 6, held earlier this year, should be an integral part of the conversation, he said, highlighting the inclusiveness of international actors, including those in the public and private sectors.


HÜSEYIN MÜFTÜOĞLU ( Turkey) said the impact of Hurricane Sandy showed the importance to effective urban planning of building buildings resistant to natural disasters.  He stressed the important role played by cities, saying they would drive the global economy in the future.  Consumption and production patterns would be shaped by cities, while they would simultaneously demand more resources.  That underlined the importance of sustainable urbanisation policies, he said, urging its promotion to ensure quality urban areas.  Integrated policies to build sustainable cities were vital, he said, stressing the importance of climate neutrality, the use of clean energy and sound technologies.  He stressed the need for the empowerment of local authorities, because of their increased ability to provide basic services efficiently.  National governments needed to work more closely with them.  Also, the international community needed to consider all urban issues in the post-2015 development agenda, he said, in line with the outcome document of “ Rio+20”.  The Habitat III Conference, scheduled for 2016, would be an excellent opportunity to integrate the global urban development agenda with the post-2015 development agenda.  He noted that Turkey would host Habitat III in Istanbul and it looked forward to helping shape the new urban policies that would respond to the challenges of the 21st Century.


TOMOKO ONISHI ( Japan) noted that more than half of the world’s population was currently living in cities and urban areas, and many of those places were facing mounting challenges.  To that end, she encouraged the international community to “gather our wisdom”, based on experiences and lessons learned from Rio+20, as well as the Habitat II Conference.  She hoped that Habitat III would be handled in the most effective and efficient way possible, implementing a more holistic approach and integrating the participation of local and national governments, as well as the private sector.  The agenda should be based on assuring human security.  As New York City had just demonstrated in its experience with Hurricane Sandy, it was evident “we were not well prepared,” she said.  Japan had experience in disasters, including the devastating Earthquake and tsunami last year, and therefore, she believed it to be her country’s duty to share with the international community its experience in disaster reduction and preparation.  It was time to include disaster reduction in the mainstream agenda.  Underlining the connection between strong disaster resilience and sustainable development, she said that was crucial to building future cities.


ANNU TANDON (India) associating himself with the Group of 77 Developing Countries and China, said that with more than half of the world’s population now living in urban areas, urbanization and its socio-economic linkages had come to occupy the centre stage of the sustainable development agenda.  By 2050, with developing countries accounting for most of the change, the global urban population was likely to increase to 70 per cent.  He urged all entities to contribute to further capitalization of the United Nations Habitat and Human Settlements Foundation, so as to enable UN-Habitat to provide more financial and seed capital support for slum upgrading and prevention.  He was glad to note that the global community had achieved the Millennium Development Goal target of improving the lives of 100 million slum dwellers well before target date.


Over the last few decades, India had seen a massive shift in its population from rural to urban areas, he said.  Presently, Indian cities and towns constituted the world’s second largest urban system and contributed to half of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).  Within the next two decades, India was poised to have over 590 million people living in urban areas, producing more than 70 per cent of GDP and accounting for 70 per cent of the new employment created.  That growth in urban economic activity, however, required infrastructure support in the sectors of power, telecom, roads, water supply, sanitation, solid waste management and mass transportation, he said.  Noting the advances India had made in development of infrastructure services in cities, including in the areas of urban housing, employment, and sanitation policy, he said more work needed to be done.  Providing clean and healthy living in urban areas was a pressing challenge, he said, especially in developing countries where environmental sustainability and growth must go hand in hand.


SONG LEI ( China) aligned with the “Group of 77” and China and said that international cooperation was vital on sustainable urbanisation.  Vital to sustainable urbanisation was peace and he called on Member States to work on policies that narrowed the gap between the rich and poor.  Those policies needed to be nationally-authored and autonomy in decision-making on that matter was vital, to ensure that policies were aligned with national capacities and conditions.  At the same time, international cooperation needed to be enhanced, with developed countries proceeding in line with the common interests of all humanity to narrow the gap between the rich and poor and to help establish the enabling conditions and capacity for developing countries to address sustainable urban development.  He added that the Chinese government had always paid great attention to the construction of human settlements and had promoted affordable housing and strengthening the macro level control of the housing market.


BORG TSIEN THAM ( Singapore) said since cities were the engines of global economic growth, they would also be where future global challenges would arise and could be met.  With its high population density, Singapore had managed to ensure a high quality of life and a sustainable environment and had learned from other cities’ best practices.  While each city was unique, all faced common urban challenges, he said.  In that context, his country and Sweden had formed the Group of Friends for Sustainable Cities, comprising 29 countries.  The Group had two key objectives:  to actively contribute to discussions on sustainable cities; and to provide a platform for longer-term, post-Rio+20 dialogue.


Against that backdrop, he said Member States needed to focus their efforts during the General Assembly session on deciding on the modalities of convening the Third United Nations Conference on Housing and sustainable urban development (Habitat III) in 2016.  Doing so would ensure progress in reinvigorating commitments to sustainable urbanization that would build on the Habitat Agenda, the Declaration on Cities and other Human Settlements in the New Millennium, and other relevant internationally agreed goals.


ABELMALEK ACHERGUI ( Morocco) associated himself with the “Group of 77” and China, saying it was essential to pay attention to cities, because urban dwellers would outnumber the rural population by 2030.  He said there had been positive developments in the global North, but that in the South, cities continued to grow in an unplanned way and were, thereby, unable to provide opportunity for their inhabitants.  Inequality between city dwellers was increasing and problems attendant to that were growing simultaneously, he said.  Thanks to wise policy choices and help from UN-Habitat, several countries had managed to limit the impact of urbanisation on the urban poor and had improved the living conditions for many.  He welcomed the achievement of the seventh Millennium Development Goal and hoped for even greater improvements for slum dwellers in the longer term.  However, he stressed that progress did not mean that development could be ignored and more needed to be done to reduce the number and proportion of slum dwellers, he said. 


He stressed the importance of strategies to reduce the risk and impact of natural disasters, because they were now more prevalent.  Development plans needed to be agreed between governments and local authorities to redress the lack of planning that characterised much urbanisation.  The lack of planning in Morocco had led to many unplanned urban centres and great efforts in that area had been made, with the assistance of the international community, to address it.  Efforts undertaken by Morocco to address urban planning and inadequate housing had led to the country ranking second in the “State of the World’s Cities 2010/2011” for the percentage of urban population lifted from substandard housing between 2000 and 2010. 


CLAUDIA ASSAF (Brazil) aligning herself with the Group of 77 developing countries and China, noted the progress made by UN-Habitat in the implementation of its Medium-Term Strategic and Institutional Plan for the period 2008-2013.  However, based on the remarks made by the Working Group, she considered that additional efforts needed to be made by UN-Habitat in order to overcome challenges.  During the formulation of such a new strategy, UN-Habitat should consider the need for integrating housing policies in broader urban planning strategies and governmental actions, combining them with other social, economic and environmental policies.


He attached great importance to the establishment of a new partnership model with development finance institutions for future lending, guarantees and financial advisory services in urban upgrading and the housing finance sectors.  The Brazilian Urban Policy was guided by the principles of the social role of property and of participatory planning, which enhanced the participation of the three dimensions of sustainability — social, economic and environmental.  Enhancing the participation of urban residents, including the poor, in decision making, was crucial to the establishment of sustainable cities, as had been envisaged for sustainable cities by the outcome document of Rio+20.  The document “The Future We Want” encompassed the promotion of an integrated approach to planning and building sustainable cities and urban settlements.  Finally, he noted that the Millennium Development Goal of improving at least 100 million slum-dweller lives by 2020 had already been achieved and more ambitious targets, such as slum upgrading, could be promoted by the international community.


ABDUL KHALIQ SAEED ( Bahrain) said the huge urbanisation expected in the next decade presented huge opportunities for economic growth that could help reduce poverty and create a sustainable environment.  However, doing so would require great efforts, to ensure that everybody reaped the benefits.  The “Rio+20” Conference made the challenges linked to urbanisation very clear and he welcomed the Conference’s outcome document, which underlined the need for a comprehensive approach to city planning and a commitment to consolidating cooperation mechanisms to implement action programmes.  Cooperation was essential in order to reach agreement on an integrated approach that would acknowledge the links between all elements and that would best meet the challenges of the future.


He stressed the importance of sustainable development to Bahrain and pointed to a government programme that consolidated sustainable cities and sought to ensure appropriate housing for all citizens.  There had been considerable development in Bahrain, particularly in social assistance and the creation of greater educational opportunities.  The aim was to use housing policies to help to eradicate extreme poverty and to improve social justice.  Despite the local programmes, progress was needed everywhere, and greater efforts were needed to follow up on the global trend of urbanisation.  An example of such efforts was a cooperation agreement signed between Bahrain and UN-Habitat signed during the Sixth World Urban Forum in Naples.  The agreement meant a United Nations office would be opened in Bahrain to aid the implementation of national strategies on urban development.  The office would be instrumental in creating greater exchanges of experience within the region and would allow the formulation of an integrated approach to tackle the challenges.


THIBAULT DEVANLAY (European Union) said that the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy reminded Member States of the importance of human settlements.  He planned to deliver a lengthier statement during the Committee’s consideration of the sustainable development agenda item.  He looked forward to negotiating the modalities of Habitat III and looked for a focused and efficient preparatory process that would make the best use of meetings and conferences.


Statements on Agricultural Development


NIKHIL SETH, Director, Division for Sustainable Development, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, said the present report found that 870 million people were undernourished.  That was slightly lower than previous estimates, but still “unconscionably high.”  Food prices remained high and volatile and were likely to remain so.  Large, developed countries were able to deal with the worst effects of the world food crisis, but small countries were much more vulnerable, he said.  The importance of food security and nutrition was growing within the international community, he said, noting that the “ Rio+20” Conference had affirmed the right to be free from poverty and hunger and the right to have access to safe, sufficient and nutritious food.  The international community was beginning to think about how to bring food security into the post-2015 development agenda.


The goal of complete eradication of hunger remained unfulfilled and a cluster of issues needed to be addressed in discussing the post-2015 development agenda and establishing the Sustainable Development Goals.  Referring to the Secretary-General’s “Zero Hunger Challenge”, he said he believed it was possible to fulfil its goal of a world free from hunger and waste.  In addition, the High Level Taskforce played an important role in bringing actors together to develop a comprehensive framework for action that would guide the international community’s efforts.  “Business as usual” was not possible, because of the increasing and multiple pressures on the agricultural resource base.  Productivity in agriculture needed urgent improvement to avert a food crisis, and a balance must be found between diversity and specialisation.  Food and agriculture were increasingly linked to energy policies, he said, adding that biofuel use should not cause increases in food prices or make food less available to the poor.  He added a call to close the agricultural gender gap, saying it was “critical to address” that matter to ensure food security was pushed to the top of the agenda.


He said the overall message of the report was very simple.  Agriculture and food security needed to remain at the top of the international agenda and every opportunity needed to be taken to promote actions that would improve the situation.  Efforts could be made at national, regional and international levels and special attention needed to be devoted to women.  The nexus of food, energy, water and climate change needed to be considered at all levels, in order to ensure that real meaning was given to what was worked out at Rio.  Promises needed to be kept for the current generations and those in the future.  


The representative of Ethiopia said there had been no serious disturbances or food related riots in the country, though the report said there had been.  She requested that the paragraph referring to the unrest be removed from the report.  Mr. Seth replied that he would look into the problem.  In response to a question from the representative of Tanzania about paying more attention to biofuel, he said the report did not ignore the issue of biofuel, but was deliberately limited in its references to the link between biofuel and food prices.


MOURAD BENMEHIDI (Algeria), speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China, said that Rio+20 re-established the right of everyone to have access to safe, sufficient and nutritious food.  Therefore, the Group emphasized the urgent need to increase efforts at the national, regional and international level to address food security and agriculture development as an integral part of the international development agenda.  He stressed the need for sustained funding and increased targeted investment to enhance world food production.


The Group emphasized that achieving food security would require strengthening and revitalizing the agriculture sector in developing countries, including through the empowerment of indigenous peoples, rural communities, small and medium scale farmers, through providing technical and financial assistance, access to and transfer of technology, capacity-building and exchange of knowledge and experience.  The Group stressed the importance of empowering rural women as critical agents for enhancing agricultural and rural development and food security and nutrition.  Without rapid progress in reducing hunger, achieving all the other Millennium Development Goals would be difficult, if not impossible.  The response to food security crises and food insecurity must go beyond short-term actions, in order to protect and promote people’s livelihoods over the longer-term.  Measures needed to be taken to revitalize the agricultural and rural development sectors in developing countries, such as enhancing access of agricultural producers — in particular small producers, women, indigenous peoples and people living in vulnerable situations — to credit and other financial services.


He stressed that agricultural subsidies and other trade distortions put in place by developed countries had severely harmed the agricultural sector in developing countries.  That limited the ability of that key sector to contribute meaningfully to poverty eradication, rural development and sustainable, inclusive and equitable growth.  He urged developed countries to demonstrate the necessary flexibility and political will to address meaningfully those key concerns of developing countries at the Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations.


Speaking on behalf of the European Union, AMERICO BEVIGLIA ZAMPETTI said the European Union development policy, “Agenda for Change”, and its food security policy had stressed the crucial role that the agricultural industry and private sector could play in economic growth and agricultural and rural development.  Through its recently adopted framework for resilience, the Union had stressed the importance of tackling the root causes of food insecurity and focusing on the long-term.  It had helped launch the Alliance Globale pour l'Initiative Résilience partnership, to strengthen the resilience of the Sahel, and the Supporting Horn of Africa Resilience, which tackled the cycle of humanitarian crises in the Horn of Africa.


The evolution of food prices since 2008 had highlighted the complexity of excessive price volatility and its devastating impact on the poor and most vulnerable, he said.  In an effort to curb those price shocks, the Union had strongly supported the Agricultural Market Information System and commended efforts to establish the Platform for Agricultural Risk Management.  It also supported the creation of emergency humanitarian food reserves stocks, particularly at the regional level.  In addition to sustainable agriculture and sustainable food systems, long-term agricultural financing mechanisms were important to help households and enterprises.  Special attention needed to be paid to small-holder farmers, particularly women, and the Union welcomed the 2014 International Year of Family Farming.  The “EU Policy Framework to Assist Developing Countries in Addressing Food Security Challenges” zeroed in on increasing the resiliency of the sector and helping those people adopt ecologically efficient agriculture practices.  Investment in adequate and balanced nutrition was also needed, particularly for pregnant women and children less than two years of age.


Good governance for food and nutrition security meant policies, appropriate legal frameworks and a commitment at the country level to enforce these policies, Mr. Zampetti said.  The Union encouraged all countries to implement the Voluntary Guidelines on Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests, in the context of National Food Security, based on the Committee on World Food Security’s efforts.


DENIS PIMINOV ( Russian Federation) believed that the outcome of Rio+20, various General Assembly resolutions and the recent session on world food security underscored the importance of agriculture and food security in the sector of development.  He called for food security issues to be fully incorporated in the 2015 global development agenda.  That could only be achieved through the investment in modern agricultural technology and an increase in food production.  Comprehensively developing agriculture was directly linked to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, he said.  He further urged the international community to increase its collective efforts to respond to the global food crisis.  He fully supported improving global mechanisms to govern food security and called on organizations, such as the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP), to continue to implement pragmatic solutions.  At the national level, his country was developing its agriculture and assisting in stabilizing the world food market.  It was growing its agricultural sector to become one of the largest food contributors in the world.  Finally, he said, his country had launched a food program in schools in the Eurasian region that would mitigate the economic crisis on vulnerable homes and would provide an opportunity for children to go to school and pursue an education.


NORACHIT SINHASENI (Thailand), speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and associating that organization with the statement made on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, urged a continuous focus on strengthening food security in the context of achieving present and future development goals and in connection with the management of natural resources, natural disasters and climate change.  Mechanisms must be put in place to address food security collectively, as ASEAN had, through initiatives aimed at long-term security by enhancing cooperation among its members and improving farmer livelihoods.  ASEAN had also established a rice reserve to counter emergencies and an information system to share detailed information on food commodities.


The United Nations, he said, could enhance linkages among such existing mechanisms and agencies as the FAO and the regional commissions could provide reliable information and policy guidance to allow Member States’ policies to be more attuned to global trends.  It was essential to increase investment in agricultural research and development to increase productive capacity, especially in developing countries.  For that purpose, he strongly encouraged public and private sector partnerships, as well as technology transfer.  As a well-functioning, rules-based international food market was also imperative, with non-tariff barriers excluded, he urged conclusion of the Doha Round of trade talks.  All relevant sectors and stakeholders must be involved in the quest for food security, most importantly, people who are affected.  He pledged ASEAN’s close cooperation on the issue.


SEWA LAMSAL ADHIKARI ( Nepal) associated herself with the Group of 77 and China, andspoke of limited progress towards agricultural development and food security, with only minimal benefits accruing to populations of countries like Nepal.  A majority of the 1.4 billion people living in extreme poverty spent nearly 70 per cent of their incomes on food, she said, adding that Nepal pursued a policy of developing the agricultural sector into an industry.  The Three Year National Plan 2010/11 - 2012/13 emphasised enhancement of agriculture’s role in food and nutritional security, employment generation and poverty reduction and improving the balance of trade.  Climate change was among the many problems that militated against that, however, with melting Himalayan glaciers, biodiversity loss, droughts and other calamities harming agriculture.


She stressed the importance of food sovereignty and said the present situation of food insecurity needed to be addressed at different levels by multiple interventions, because it was largely due to low investment levels, relative neglect of structural transformation and decreasing ODA.  It was imperative that the latter trend be reversed immediately, she said.  She also called for an early conclusion of the Doha Development Round to grant least developed countries better market access and urged all stakeholders to fully and effectively implement the Istanbul Programme of Action, especially focusing on integrating issues related to agricultural development and food security in the respective United Nations development processes and programmes, including the framing-up of the Sustainable Development Goals and the post-2015 development agenda.


OLIVIA COOK ( Chile) associated herself with the Group of 77 and China, saying she was convinced that the agreement on Voluntary Guidelines on Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests represented a historic achievement.  She added that she believed they would play an important role in meeting the challenge of ending hunger and achieving food security, integrating the three pillars of sustainable development.  She said food security was closely linked to job creation and income, as well as the existence of good social protection mechanisms.  Self-sufficiency was not the only measure of food security, she said, adding that the world’s population in 2050 would reach 9 billion, meaning that many more people would need feeding with the same resources.  International trade would have to play a major role in ensuring food security, she said, calling for and end to the deadlock of the Doha Development Round.


DENIS ZDOROV ( Belarus) said that guaranteeing sufficient food was one of the most important components of international security.  Belarus, on a national level, had adopted a concept of food security that included ensuring food was physically and economically accessible to all its citizens.  His country provided more than 80 per cent of the food products it used.  Resilient food security depended on agriculture and effectively sustainable food infrastructure.  Those systemic national efforts had a positive impact on Belarus and in the area of sustainable development.  Belarus had significantly increased its capacity in food production and exports, and stood ready to share its experience.  He emphasized further cooperation on the international level in the areas of food security and agriculture.  He called protectionist measures “unacceptable” as many relied on food trade for their achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.  Further, he called for the timely transfer of technology, as many countries relied on technology to ensure food security at a national and local level.


JORGE LAGUNA ( Mexico) said that food security was a priority of his country’s agenda and moreover a particular priority, because of the global financial and economic crisis.  He believed that it was necessary to promote a comprehensive approach which included, among others, human rights and environmental awareness.  As President of the Group of 20 (G-20), Mexico established food as a major issue, in hopes of making the subject of food transparent.  Further, Mexico strengthened and gave continuity to the work of the previous G-20 Presidency.  One of his country’s fundamental concerns was ensuring the United Nations central role in agricultural development and food security was recognized.  The contribution of civil society and of agriculture producers was also fundamental.


DMYTRO KUSHNERUK ( Ukraine), aligning with the European Union, said that there was concern about the long-term consequences of food instability in the world, which was resulting in a rising number of hunger victims.  The issues of agricultural development and food security should be higher on the agenda, considering the ongoing famine in the Horn of Africa.  In that regard, Ukraine emphasized the need for strengthened global governance of world food security, and supported both United Nations activities and Group of 8 (G-8) and Group of 20 initiatives aimed at promoting efficiency, responsiveness and effectiveness of the relevant multilateral institutions.  Ukraine also supported the efforts of the FAO and its Committee on Food Security in particular, and encouraged intensified cooperation between that organization, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), World Food Programme (WFP) and the international financial institutions.  The United Nations should continue to work together as a system, “delivering as one”, making use of the comparative advantages of its different institutions, including at the country level.


As an effective agriculture sector was essential to overcome hunger and poverty and to secure overall economic growth, financing for agriculture should be increased.  Agricultural development and land management that was environmentally, socially and economically sustainable also had important mitigation potential, as reflected in the Rio+20 outcome document.  Ukraine also strongly believed that improved access for the agricultural products of emerging market economies to the international and regional markets was critical to ensure world food sustainability.  The Ukrainian Government, along with the National Academy of Agrarian Sciences, prepared a programme known as “Grain of Ukraine 2015” which aimed at fostering grain productivity, through developing the necessary logistics and enhancing the use of modern technologies and financial support.  It was projected that the project would help to increase grain production in Ukraine by up to 80 million tonnes by 2017.


CHATNOPDOL AKSORNSAWAD (Thailand), in his national capacity, said that even though his country was a leading global food producer and exporter, it still faced challenges such as floods, droughts and pestilence, which had been exacerbated by climate change.  It believed, therefore, that the nexus between food security, water, energy, natural resources and infrastructure management should be further examined, and mechanisms put in place to help cushion shocks.  Productivity must be increased and waste reduced in sustainable ways, through investment and technology transfer.  Fair and open trade in agricultural products was indispensible, and the root causes of price volatility had to be addressed.


Given its strategic location, he said, his country endeavoured to serve as a hub for transportation, logistics, production and distribution of food in Asia.  For that purpose, with ASEAN partners, it was accelerating investment in airports, ports, border facilities, rail and waterways.  It also participated in ASEAN cooperation on food-related information systems and emergency reserves.  He stressed that food security, being a global problem, must be tackled through well-coordinated global efforts, in which United Nations agencies such as FAO had an important role to play.  At the international level, food security must be addressed in a comprehensive manner and with a view to achieving present and future development goals.


SACHA SERGIO LLORENTY SOLIZ ( Bolivia) said a large number of people around the world were malnourished.  The recent economic crisis had led to the number reaching 1 billion, and had affected indigenous peoples and farmers the worst.  Although the recent report noted the number of undernourished people decreasing, the figures were still highly discouraging, he said.  Within the framework of increasing food security, he said Bolivia was working on a plan to eradicate extreme poverty and achieve food sovereignty by 2025.  He said Bolivia’s achievements in meeting the Millennium Development Goals were thanks largely to the nationalization of their natural resources, in particular hydrocarbons.  Indigenous people had also played an important role, he said, living in harmony with “Mother Earth” and preserving their local environments, while also meeting their food needs.  He reaffirmed the important role that quinoa would play and looked forward to the launch of the International Year of Quinoa, which had been delayed until the first week of December.


SACHA SERGIO LLORENTY SOLIZ ( Bolivia) said a large number of people around the world were malnourished.  The recent economic crisis had led to the number reaching 1 billion, and had affected indigenous peoples and farmers the worst.  Although the recent report noted the number of undernourished people decreasing, the figures were still highly discouraging, he said.  Within the framework of increasing food security, he said Bolivia was working on a plan to eradicate extreme poverty and achieve food sovereignty by 2025.  He said Bolivia’s achievements in meeting the Millennium Development Goals were thanks largely to the nationalization of their natural resources, in particular hydrocarbons.  Indigenous people had also played an important role, he said, living in harmony with “Mother Earth” and preserving their local environments, while also meeting their food needs.  He reaffirmed the important role that quinoa would play and looked forward to the launch of the International Year of Quinoa, which had been delayed until the first week of December.


BARRY HAASE, Member of Parliament, Australia, said there was an urgent need to increase agricultural production through sustainable agricultural practices, but that recent growth worldwide stood at only 1.7 per cent per year.  He said there was “no longer a choice” and that sustainable agricultural practices were necessary to address food insecurity now and in the future.  He encouraged the widespread adoption and use of technology in farming, such as the use of mobile phones by farmers in developing countries to find the best market for their produce.  He said that any comprehensive approach to food security needed also to prioritise increased investment in agricultural research, development and extension.


He said that Australia’s aid programme supported a comprehensive approach by addressing the food security challenges of the poorest, including smallholder producers in developing countries.  Women were of particular importance to the programme and their involvement was essential, if success were to be sustained over time.  As Chair of the Cairns Group, Australia had consistently advocated against the ongoing use of production and trade-distorting subsidies, market access barriers and export subsidies in advanced developing countries because open and efficient agricultural markets would help to create a profitable and competitive agriculture sector for all countries.


BANSA GOPAL CHOWDHURY, Member of Parliament, India, aligned himself with the Group of 77 and China and said that recent spikes in global food prices had exposed the inherent limitations of unsustainable market practices, unsustainable consumption patterns and unsustainable farming to deal with food as a basic human need.  1.3 billion tonnes of food were wasted annually, roughly a third of the total global food production, and it could be used to feed the world’s 1 billion hungry people.  There was also a serious mismatch between global food demand and supply, with systemic issues also responsible for spikes in food prices.  One such was the surge in the flow of speculative capital into global commodity markets and he called for a concerted effort to improve regulation of those markets.


Enhancing global food security needed global action, he said, adding a call for improved global policy coordination and coherence.  International efforts should work to promote higher investment, greater use of modern technology and access to farm credit to enhance agricultural productivity and growth.  In doing so, it was important to work on women’s empowerment as critical agents of change and on preserving the environment.  He reiterated his support for the L’Aquila Food Security Initiative and highlighted ways in which India had worked with African countries to provide technical assistance to ensure agricultural development and food security.


FARIS AL OTAIBI (Saudi Arabia), aligning himself with the Group of 77 developing countries and China, said that in recent years the world had become increasingly affected by the global financial and economic crises.  Food security was not just greatly affected by a spike in food prices, but also with the increased risk of an environmental crisis and climate change.  He encouraged the international community to pay full attention to the food security challenge, as food security was an inalienable human right.  His country attached great importance to the implementation of appropriate policies which would increase food and trade consumption, while also guaranteeing adequate nutrition and eliminating waste.  On a national level, Saudi Arabia was encouraging the private sector to invest in the agriculture of countries whose agricultural sectors were developing.  In addition, his country had donated $500 million to the World Food Programme.


MOHAMED KHALIL (Egypt) said that a lack of attention to food markets and the volatility in the prices of food was a global challenge and the efforts of developing countries were very important, in this regard.  New resources had to help developing countries to react to the challenges of food security.  In light of that, it was important to honour all past commitments, and to provide funds to face climate change.  The deterioration of the situation called for increased efforts.  Development had suffered a setback, caused by the global economic and financial crisis, and in addition, the food crisis.  That had placed food security at the head of the international agenda.  The Conference on Sustainable Development at Rio reiterated the importance of obtaining well-balanced and healthy food for all.  That underscored the conversation of food security on all levels of the agenda, including development and in the post-2015 development agenda.


The majority of Arab countries suffered from drought and had arid and semi-arid land, he said.  Further, the African continent was one of the areas most affected by climate change and had endured difficult burdens from drought, as well as from the world economic crisis.  Due to the rising price of food, African countries would have a difficult time reducing the number of those suffering from hunger.  Egypt stressed the need to deal with the question of food security in a comprehensive manner and stressed the need for agricultural assistance from developed countries.


YEO SHO HOR ( Singapore) said that the food security issues faced by the urban poor were multifaceted.  In some parts of the world, the urban poor continued to face crowded living conditions without proper housing, unsafe drinking water and dysfunctional sewage systems that exacerbating health issues.  Their source of food was dependent on their purchasing power and was further complicated by the issue of malnutrition.  In addition, the world’s ecosystems and biodiversity were increasingly under pressure from being overexploited, degraded and deforested.  Climate change, loss of arable land and damaged aquatic ecosystems added to the challenge of increasing global food production.  There was a critical need to explore ecosystem approaches to the intensification and management of the agricultural production system.  “We must continue to increase research and development efforts in agriculture to discover new, environmentally friendly, non-traditional farming methods that can support sustainable development,” he said.


Singapore was a small island developing city State with little natural resources and no hinterland.  Food security was a key concern, as Singapore imported more than 90 per cent of its food, and was constantly faced with the twin challenges of food price and supply volatility.  The country’s core strategy in bolstering food supply resilience was on food source diversification, and it was also working to enhance food security.  In that context, Singapore had formed an inter-ministerial committee to study two broad areas, namely reducing food wastage and enhancing food resilience.  The Government had established a $20 million food fund with the aim of maximizing local productivity, so as to increase local production of eggs, fish and leafy vegetables.  Singapore was also committed to supporting the estimated 925 million hungry people in the world — of which about 60 per cent came from the Asia Pacific region — through investing in agricultural research, promoting and setting food safety standards and facilitating and inspiring technology transfer.


FENG XIN (China) associated with the Group of 77 and China, saying that the international community should stabilise the prices of bulk commodities to guard against price volatility.  Developed countries should assist with technology transfer and market access for developing countries and should come to agreement as quickly as possible on the Doha Development Round.  He also called on developed countries to step up their efforts to ensure their promises and obligations on ODA were met in a timely manner, while urging developing countries to continue to pursue South-South cooperation.  China remained focused on the huge task of feeding its large population, which made up around 20 per cent of the world’s entire population.  China, he said, had been the first State to achieve the Millennium Development Goal of reducing poverty by half, and was an active supporter of the FAO through financial donations.


FIRUS AL-HAMMADANY ( Iraq) aligned himself with the Group of 77 and China.  He said that past Iraqi agricultural policies had aimed at guaranteeing food security, but in the main had proven unsuccessful.  War and embargoes were among the major challenges they had faced and both had led to destruction and deterioration of infrastructure.  He described several policies that Iraq had followed to improve their agricultural productivity and to make their goods more competitive on the international market.  He also described a database concerning water resource management to aid with planning and management of water resources and to collect information about the Nile Basin and the Euphrates River.  In addition, new dams had been built, so sufficient quantities of water could be stored.  Various other policies had focused on the ways and means of mitigating the effects of climate change and to ensure the protection of water supply resources.


GUILLERMO RISHCHYNSKI ( Canada) said addressing food insecurity required a concerted and continued global effort.  In that regard, Canada had been working with other governments, donors and stakeholders to shape the evolving global food security and nutrition agenda.  The Canadian International Development Agency had put in place its Food Security Strategy that was designed to empower the poorest and most disadvantaged.  That was done by reducing vulnerability to various factors that impacted their food security, including food shortages, market-barriers and constraints to agricultural productivity.


The role of women in sustainable agricultural development was an issue that must be top priority for the post-2015 agenda and his country looked forward to following the results of United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women), FAO, IFAD and WFP in their joint efforts in support of a more coordinated and targeted approach to promoting gender equality and the economic empowerment of rural women.  Canada was also pleased with the progress of the Scaling Up Nutrition movement over the past year, including the development of a strategy to guide it as well as the work that was moving forward in countries.  For Canada’s part, in addition to the global coordination efforts with donors and other stakeholders through the Scaling Up Nutrition donor network and Scaling Up Nutrition movement secretariat, he believed it was crucial to support Scaling Up Nutrition countries in their efforts.  Canada had provided support to specifically assist Scaling Up Nutrition countries in implementing their programmes.


PETER SILBERBERG ( Germany) aligned himself with the European Union.  He said the right to eat was a right that currently existed “only on paper” and it was a duty for countries to fight for it.  Germany supported the negotiation of Voluntary Guidelines on Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests and looked forward to seeing their application in policies.  He saw the Committee on Food Security as a platform for hearing the voices of the poor and hungry and pointed to the global strategic framework that was established during the Committee’s first plenary this year.  The framework represented a single document to guide policy on the issue.  It was now necessary to build a bridge between the Committee and the United Nations human rights entities in Geneva, he said, saying agriculture was crucial to the needs of the growing global population and was inextricably linked to poverty eradication.  Investment was vital for ensuring global food security and had been strongly neglected in the past.  There were many key areas and it was essential to realize investment in a responsible manner that focused on rural farmers.  Smart investments in agriculture were key to the improvement of access to food in developing countries.


PATRICK DUFFY ( Ireland) aligned himself with the European Union.  He said Ireland was responding to the crisis in the Sahel, but vulnerability would remain high because of high and volatile food prices.  Addressing food security required an integrated approach and it was imperative that short-term relief that was administered was contained within the bounds of longer-term strategies.  Ireland was focused on boosting smallholder farmers, with a particular focus on women, who, with equal rights and say could be powerful agents for change.  That was an essential cornerstone of any plan to boost agriculture.


The main targets of Ireland’s aid efforts were malnutrition and promoting governance.  Successive Irish governments had sought to address hunger and had tried to meet a target of devoting 20 per cent of their aid budget to combating hunger.  The importance of work on hunger was matched by the importance of work addressing nutrition and the emphasis was on quality, and not quantity.  He said that a recent high-level meeting had taken stock of the substantial progress made on the matter and the increased political commitment on the issue had propelled it to prominence on the global agenda.  He added that he was encouraged by the focus of Rio+20 on hunger, particularly with children, and stated that Ireland would also focus on that issue during their upcoming presidency of the European Union.


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