UN lauds G-20 decision to exempt agency’s food purchases from export restrictions

Photo: IRIN

4 November 2011 – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today welcomed the decision by the Group of 20 (G20) major economies to ensure that the agency’s humanitarian food purchases do not face export restrictions or extraordinary taxes, saying the move would ensure vital food assistance continues to reach people in need.

“Today WFP purchases most of its humanitarian food in 70 different nations, and it’s critical that this food reaches the vulnerable,” said Josette Sheeran, the agency’s Executive Director. “This declaration by the G-20 will ensure that the humanitarian pipeline will flow even during a food crisis.”

The decision was taken during the two-day summit of G-20 leaders in Cannes, France, which ended today.

During the 2008 food price crisis, export restrictions threatened WFP’s ability to provide a lifeline of support to hundreds of thousands of people who were struggling to access food for their families, the agency said.

Participating in the G-20 summit, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged the leaders to remain united and steer the world towards a stable global economy and help developing countries achieve their poverty reduction and social development goals.

He stressed the need to raise development funding and urged the G-20 nations to explore all possible options – public, private and innovative sources of financing – to help poor countries achieve their Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by the 2015 deadline.

Sustainable energy is the key to addressing three great challenges – poverty, climate change and re-invigorating economies, Mr. Ban emphasized, calling on leaders to facilitate the attainment of universal energy access, improve energy efficiency, and double the use of renewable energy by 2030.

Mr. Ban welcomed the discussion on climate change by the G-20 leaders and called for the launch of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) at the UN Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa, next month.

Separately, the Secretary-General met yesterday with Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the United Arab Emirates, to discuss issues covered at the summit, with the UN chief highlighting the importance of unity of purpose on development and finding innovative sources of financing to fund it.

They also discussed the Middle East peace process and the Palestinian membership issue following the decision by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) earlier this week to admit Palestine as a full member of the agency.

Mr. Ban urged both Israel and the Palestinian Authority to exercise restraint and expressed his intention to continue working with both sides and other interested parties to find a solution for their dispute.

He reiterated his deep concern at the recent decision by the Israeli Government to accelerate the building of new apartments in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. He also underlined his support for the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinians to have a viable sovereign State.

While noting that the admission of Palestine into UN specialized agencies was a decision for Member States, Mr. Ban expressed his concern over the potential impact that it would have on the work of those organizations for millions of people around the world.

Mr. Ban and Mr. Al Nahyan also discussed the situation in Yemen and Syria, with the Secretary-General voicing his appreciation of the efforts of Arab countries to find solutions to crises in the two countries. Their discussions also touched on the situation in Iran.

At another meeting earlier today, the Secretary-General and the Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, discussed the Cyprus issue and progress in the UN-facilitated reunification talks, as well as the remaining challenges.

Their discussions also touched on Syria and efforts to resolve the crisis there, with Mr. Ban stressing the need for the international community to speak with one voice on the issue.

Mr. Ban also briefed Mr. Erdogan on his recent visit to Libya, and discussed UN support for the recent elections in Tunisia. Among other issues discussed were Turkey’s relations with Israel, the Middle East peace process, Palestinian membership in UNESCO, and the regional conference on Afghanistan held in Istanbul earlier this week.

On the margins of the G-20 summit, Mr. Ban also attended working sessions on financial regulation; agriculture, energy and commodity price volatility; and climate change and corruption. He also participated in a session on global governance and priorities of the Mexican G-20 presidency next year.


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