FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION
OF THE UNITED NATIONS
 
 

Statement 

by

Jacques Diouf
Director-General 

at the 
World Summit for Sustainable Development

Johannesburg, South Africa
30 August 2002

Mr President of the Summit,
Mr Secretary-General of the Summit,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
 

Thank you, Mr President, for this opportunity to address the participants of the World Summit on Sustainable Development.


          The global economy has seen significant growth in the developed countries and certain developing countries in the ten years that followed the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED). Yet, 1.2 billion people still have to live on one dollar a day and 815 million of these people are undernourished. Most live in the developing countries and are constantly up against the degradation of their natural resources and their environment. Their institutions are weak. They lack infrastructure, especially markets. They have inadequate technologies. Conflicts widen existing social inequalities and continue to hamper progress towards the Rio objectives. 

          FAO's mandate for agriculture, fisheries, forests, food security and the rural sector prioritizes actions that are conducive to sustainable development at national, regional and global level. The Organization was actively involved in the UNCED preparatory process that led to the adoption of Agenda 21, the Multilateral Environmental Agreements and the Forest Principles at the Earth Summit of 1992, in Rio. 

           On that occasion, FAO was appointed task manager for implementation of chapters 10 (Integrated Planning and Management of Land Resources), 11 (Combating Deforestation), 13 (Sustainable Mountain Development) and 14 (Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development). It is also a partner for implementation of chapters 12 (Combating Desertification and Drought), 15 (Biological Diversity), 17 (Oceans and Seas), 18 (Freshwater) and 19 (Toxic Chemicals).

          In follow-up to an UNCED recommendation on the strengthening of institutional arrangements, FAO established its Sustainable Development Department in 1995 and decided to mainstream sustainability into environmental activities involving natural resources and socio-economic issues. It now places strong emphasis on the promotion and integration of concepts, approaches, strategies and methods that will ensure sustainability in the sectoral activities of its technical units, and in the development policy advice that it gives to its member countries. 
 

  • Integrated planning and management of land resources


          In implementation of Agenda 21, FAO has been involved in the evaluation of land resources. Its Soil Fertility Initiative, for example, has helped some twenty countries of sub-Saharan Africa to raise their productivity and to promote conservation agriculture in order to reduce soil degradation and foster carbon sequestration. It has focused increasingly on the conservation and effective use of water resources, with an emphasis on the management of irrigation schemes, drainage areas and catchment basins.
 

  • Development of forests 


          FAO also supports and encourages the participatory and sustainable management of all types of forest, acting through its Forests, Trees and People Programme and drafting a Model Code of Forest Harvesting Practice. FAO also chairs the Collaborative Partnership on Forests that operates for the United Nations Forum on Forests.
 

  • Sustainable mountain development 


          The Organization has helped raise awareness of the importance of mountain ecosystems and of the development obstacles that are faced by mountain people, in an effort to ensure the conservation of freshwater reserves and the planet's biodiversity. As United Nations lead agency for the International Year of Mountains 2002, FAO has also been involved in the launching of the Mountain Initiative for this Summit. 
 

  • Sustainable agriculture and rural development (SARD)


          FAO's efforts to promote sustainable agricultural development led to the organization of the World Food Summit and to support for implementation of the Summit's Plan of Action. It helps low-income food-deficit countries sustainably increase their food production through its Special Programme for Food Security which is operational in 69 countries, more than half in Africa. Integrated plant protection, organic agriculture, integration of gender-related issues in development and promotion of the conservation and sustainable use of genetic resources for food and agriculture are all examples of FAO's work as task manager for chapter 14. One tangible outcome has been the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture which was adopted in November 2001 and is now in the process of ratification.

          I should also like to mention FAO's work in drafting the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries which is a major contribution to implementation of chapter 17 (Oceans and Seas).

Mr President,

          Many of those present today also attended the World Food Summit: five years later. I find this most heartening, as the goals of the World Summit on Sustainable Development reflect those of the World Food Summit: five years later and aim to eliminate poverty, the major challenge facing humanity and the sine qua non of sustainable development, especially for the developing countries.

         At the Rome Summit, the international community addressed the root cause of the chronic extreme poverty, hunger and malnutrition that continue to afflict some 800 million people, most of whom live in rural areas.

           The Declaration of the World Food Summit: five years later invites all parties 
- governments, international organizations, civil society organizations and the private sector -to redouble their efforts and to act as an international alliance against hunger in order to achieve the objective of the World Food Summit, which was subsequently reiterated in the United Nations Millennium Declaration. It also calls for specific measures to strengthen the political will and to mobilize the resources needed to halve the number of undernourished people by 2015.

          The Plan of Implementation of the World Summit on Sustainable Development reaffirms the development objective of the Millennium Declaration. It stresses that sustainable agriculture and rural development is central to any integrated strategy of increased food production aimed at enhancing food security and food safety in a sustainable manner. 

          How are these interdependent objectives to be achieved? Or, rather: what firm commitments are we prepared to make to ensure success?

First we need the political will:

          It is in fact up to the governments to ensure food security at national level, acting in concert with civil society and the private sector and receiving support from the international community. The number of undernourished people needs to fall by more than 22 million each year if the objective of the World Food Summit is to be achieved by 2015. At the same time, the development partners need to improve the indicators that monitor and measure progress towards this objective.

          Governments, international organizations and financing institutions need to use their resources effectively, to improve their performance and to step up their cooperation, working as one to overcome hunger and to consolidate the primary role of sustainable agriculture and rural development in food security. Particularly relevant in this regard are the three agencies specialized in food and agriculture that are headquartered in Rome - FAO, WFP and IFAD.

Resources:

          The fight against hunger and poverty will come to nothing unless we make sure that women, especially rural women, are placed at the heart of the process. Such was the conclusion reached at one of the leading side events of the World Food Summit: five years later - the side event entitled Rural women: crucial partners in the fight against hunger and poverty. 

          FAO has drawn up a draft Anti-Hunger Programme that focuses on five priority areas:  1) agricultural productivity in poor rural communities; 2) development and conservation of natural resources; 3) expansion of rural infrastructure and market access; 4) generation and dissemination of knowledge; and 5) access to food for the most needy.

          This Programme requires an additional public investment of some US$24 billion. I am pleased to note that four priority actions of the Anti-Hunger Programme correspond to the Agriculture component of the UN Secretary-General's WEHAB initiative. Investment for these four priority areas, amounting to US$18.5 billion, would translate into rapid and substantial reductions in hunger and extreme poverty. It is important to note that the additional investment required should be equitably shared between governments of developing countries and donors. Realization of the World Food Summit's objective would boost the global economy by an estimated US$120 billion each year. 

          Finally, Mr President, with its partners, FAO has launched two initiatives that evolved during the course of preparing for this Summit: the Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development (SADR) Initiative and the International Partnership for Sustainable Development in Mountain Regions. Both are umbrella alliances of partners that are free to enter into specific subpartnerships. Governments, intergovernmental organizations and civil society organizations have shown a keen interest in these initiatives and manifested strong support. I venture to hope that, over the next five years, the processes started here will prompt concrete and measurable improvements in the implementation of Agenda 21 and in the realization of the objectives of the Millennium Declaration.

          Thank you for your kind attention.