Food security key to achieving global anti-poverty goals – Secretary-General

Photo: IRIN

6 July 2011 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today underlined the importance of promoting food security, saying that ensuring everyone has enough to eat has a positive spill-over effect on health, education and the empowerment of women, key catalysts for progress towards internationally agreed poverty eradication targets.

“Food security is also a matter of peace and security – as we have witnessed in recent years with riots over food prices in many countries,” said Mr. Ban when he addressed the meeting of the Civil Society on Food Security and Sustainable Development in the Spanish capital, Madrid.

The Secretary-General told the gathering that his High-level Task Force on the Global Food Security Crisis, established in 2008, had developed a comprehensive framework for action that recommended a twin-track approach on food security – addressing both the immediate needs, as well as the structural causes of food insecurity.

“Support for smallholder farmers is at the centre – with strong links between food security and land, water, environment and women’s empowerment,” said Mr. Ban.

He pointed out that donors have since 2009 pledged generous financial support at the Group of 8 (G8) and Group of 20 (G20) summits to improve global food security, and that developing countries have also raised their investments in agriculture.

Mr. Ban encouraged all partners to support Scaling Up Nutrition, an inter-agency initiative which stresses that a massive effort to combat under-nutrition is essential to meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

He said some of the key challenges to achieving global food security and better nutrition included ensuring that the funds pledged are invested in sustainable agriculture and creating stronger partnerships between governments, businesses and civil society.

International organizations and the G20 leadership should also work together to limit excessive food price volatility, and governments must be encouraged to expand and improve food-based safety nets that safeguard nutrition.

Mr. Ban also called greater efforts to ensure that trade in food commodities becomes more open and equitable, including through ensuring that the Doha Round of the World Trade Organization (WTO) talks is concluded as soon as possible.

“Meeting these specific challenges – as well as the comprehensive goal of sustainable development – demands commitment, creativity and leadership,” said Mr. Ban.

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