Holistic Approach Critical in Addressing Impact of Climate Change on Agriculture, Delegates Say, as Second Committee Takes Up Food Security, Nutrition

28 October 2013
GA/EF/3377

Holistic Approach Critical in Addressing Impact of Climate Change on Agriculture, Delegates Say, as Second Committee Takes Up Food Security, Nutrition

28 October 2013
General Assembly
GA/EF/3377
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-eighth General Assembly

Second Committee

22nd & 23rd Meetings (AM & PM)

Holistic Approach Critical in Addressing Impact of Climate Change on Agriculture,

Delegates Say, as Second Committee Takes Up Food Security, Nutrition

 

Agriculture was the livelihood of the majority of people living in rural areas and had significantly contributed to alleviating poverty, the representative of Sri Lanka told the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) today as it considered agriculture development, food security and nutrition.

A major economic contributor, agriculture constituted for 11.1 per cent of Sri Lanka’s gross domestic product (GDP), he said, highlighting that food production had increased by more than 25 per cent in just the last decade.  Through national initiatives, his country had achieved the goal of self-sufficiency in rice, making it secure in a staple food.  Additionally several measures had been taken by the Government to promote sustainable agriculture including through the formation of a National Nutrition Policy which carried out research on field crops, vegetables and fruits.

Agriculture was highly vulnerable to climate change, said the representative of New Zealand as he pointed out his country’s severe droughts last summer as a reminder of the vulnerability of the sector.  As a small State, New Zealand was also mindful of the impact climate change had on oceans and availability of fish stocks, on which many people depended for their food and for their livelihoods.  The effects were most keenly felt by smallholder farmers in developing countries.

Egypt’s delegate said there was a food security dilemma in that increasing productivity would also increase greenhouse gases and put an additional strain on water resources.  To increase productivity, investments were needed, however, trade distorting measures had negative impacts on products from developing countries.  Food security had to be addressed in a comprehensive and holistic manner.  That was particularly relevant in the context of the Development Goals and the post-2015 sustainable development agenda.  The impact of climate change in Africa was particularly acute and made it difficult for African countries to reduce the number of people suffering from poverty, particularly as many are reliant on food aid.

Sounding a similar note, Ethiopia’s representative, speaking on behalf of the African Group, said that agriculture was key to Africa’s development and that without it the continent would not overcome poverty.  Smallholder farmers dominated Africa’s agriculture sector and deserved extra attention.  He also emphasized the need to address higher energy prices, which coupled with the sensitivity of the sector to the extreme effects of climate change, had led to an increase in food prices and widespread droughts.  Agriculture had turned into an increasingly market-driven sector, he said, stressing the need to shift to a fair trading system free of distortion.

Brazil’s delegate reiterated that the absence of free trade in agriculture markets was an obstacle to self-reliance in developing countries.  Protectionism in developed countries threatened food security in the developing world, as it hindered agricultural production and exposed those countries to unfair competition from subsidized goods while denying them access to important external markets.  Agricultural protectionism also granted unfair advantages to producers in developed countries, which already enjoyed better market and financial conditions.

Earlier, the Committee took up its consideration of United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), with the representative of Bangladesh saying that approximately 868 million people in developing countries or 33 per cent of the total urban population in those countries continued to live in slums.  Developing countries needed special assistance from the international community not only for housing, but also for capacity-building, as well as technical and financial assistance to prevent slum dwelling.  Echoing that sentiment, Senegal’s delegate said that that the increase of slums in his country was leading to problems in housing, health, transport, education and hygiene.  Sustainable urban planning must take into consideration the needs of the people, he stressed.

Several representatives emphasized the importance of the Habitat III conference in providing an efficient platform to address urban planning challenges, with Malaysia’s delegate saying that it must be built on relevant internationally agreed upon goals and ensure a balance between economic development, social development and environmental impact.  The country’s Ministry on Housing and Local Government was working with other Government agencies, the private sector and civil society to implement the Habitat Agenda, he assured.

Myanmar’s delegate, speaking on behalf of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), stressed that specific attention must be given to improving access to adequate housing, water, sanitation, domestic energy and public transport.  Governments must be educated on critical urbanization issues and enhance efforts to build greener, more liveable, convenient, harmonious and environmentally-friendly cities.

Introducing several documents for the Committee’s consideration were the Executive Director of UN-Habitat and the Director of the Division for Sustainable Development, Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

Also delivering statements today were representatives of Fiji (on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China), Antigua and Barbuda (on behalf of Caribbean Community), Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Japan, China, Senegal, Singapore, Ecuador, Brazil, Philippines (on behalf of the Association of South-East Asian Nations), Guyana (on behalf of the Caribbean Community), Israel, Bangladesh, Belarus, Canada, Spain, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, China, Nepal, Mongolia, Malaysia, Iraq, Thailand, Congo, Côte D'Ivoire, Qatar, and the European Union delegation.

The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on 29 October to continue its discussion on food security and begin its consideration on global partnerships.

Background

The Second Committee (Economic and Financial) met today to consider the “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)”.  In the afternoon, it took up agriculture development, food security and nutrition.  On the first item, it had before it a report of the Secretary-General on the “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/68/332).  Also on that item, the Committee had before it a note of the Secretary-General on the “Coordinated implementation of the Habitat Agenda” (document A/68/328) and a report of the Governing Council of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) (document A/68/8).  On the second item, the Committee had before it two reports of the Secretary-General entitled, “Agriculture development, food security and nutrition” (document A/68/311) and “Report on the main decisions and policy recommendations of the Committee on World Food Security” (document A/68/73-E/2013/59).

Introduction of reports

JOAN CLOS, Executive Director of UN-Habitat, introduced via video link the report and note of the Secretary-General on the “Implementation of the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II) and strengthening of the United Nations Settlements programme” and report on the “Coordinated implementation of the Habitat Agenda”, respectively.  He also introduced a report of the Governing Council of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme on its twenty-fourth session.  He highlighted several important resolutions adopted by the Governing Council of UN-Habitat in its previous session held in April 2013.  He provided an update on preparations for Habitat III, the third United Nations Conference on housing and sustainable urban development, and on the UN-Habitat governance review process.

UN-Habitat’s new strategic plan for 2014-2016 had several focus areas including on urban planning, municipal finance, and slum upgrading, he said.  The plan focused on four cross-cutting issues: gender, youth, climate change and human rights.  The second Governing Council resolution was based on the recognition that more than 50 per cent of the global population was now urban, and of the increasing importance of urbanization in economic growth and environmental sustainability.  Turning to Habitat III, he summarized several proposals to the Governing Council including assisting countries to carry out assessments and national reports.

A number of actions had been taken in response to the financial position of UN-Habitat.  During the first quarter of 2013, UN-Habitat developed a resource mobilization strategy and action plan aimed at increasing sustainable non-earmarked funding for core activities from transitional donor countries, middle-income countries and non-traditional donors.  A number of significant events were held and UN-Habitat continued to participate in key processes to shape the post-2015 development agenda.  He urged the General Assembly to make a decision on the recommendation of the UN-Habitat Governing Council to designate 31 October of every ear, beginning in 2014, as World Cities Day.  He also urged the Assembly to provide strong support to the Habitat III preparatory process, especially in respect to the regular budget resources required for the 2014-2015 biennium.

Statements

PETER THOMSOM (Fiji), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said a demographic revolution was transitioning hunger in developing countries from rural to urban areas, particularly in Africa and Asia, where the process of urbanization was rapidly taking place.  Sustainable urban development would be one of the most pressing global challenges in the twenty-first century and would require due consideration in the post-2015 development agenda.  At the Rio+20 conference, world leaders reaffirmed that well-planned and developed cities could promote economically, socially and environmentally sustainable societies.

He said that a holistic approach was required for urban development and human settlements that provided for affordable housing, social services and infrastructure that prioritized upgrading slums and urban regeneration mobility.  He expressed concern about the continuing increase in the number of urban slum dwellers in the world, the negative impact of environmental degradation on human settlement and the increasing vulnerability of urban settlers to natural and human-made disasters.  It was critically important to have adequate and predictable funding to ensure UN-Habit’s effectiveness in support of national policies, strategies and plans.

ANTHONY LIVERPOOL ( Antigua and Barbuda), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and associating himself with the Group of 77, said sustainable development and adequate shelter should be a concern for all countries.  However, developing countries, including small island developing States, had particularly difficult challenges in relation to population growth and access to basic services for a growing urban population.  CARICOM believed there needed to be a greater thrust to educate the global community about land use, urban sprawl and the need to develop sustainable human settlements.  The international community needed to establish common but differentiated responsibilities to address the economic and social needs of developing countries when addressing the UN-Habitat Agenda. 

He said that the implementation and fulfilment of the internationally agreed goals on the provision of adequate shelter for all, sustainable human development and slum eradication required an all-inclusive and integrated approach.  It should be supported by policies that addressed access to safe water and sanitation, poverty eradication, the provision of modern, affordable energy services, waste collection and disposal.  CARICOM believed that building adequate capacities at the regional level had to be given priority and called on development partners to provide UN-Habitat the financial and technical support it needed.  Differences in core and non-core funding were of particular concern, as the continued unpredictability of funding lessened the programme’s effectiveness.

KYAW TIN (Myanmar), speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and associating himself with the Group of 77, said that 13 years after the adoption of the Millennium Development Goals, more than 50 per cent of the world’s population was now urbanized.  Today, of every 10 urban residents in the world, at least seven were in developing countries.  All developing regions, most notably in Asia and Africa, will become more urban than rural by 2035.  Moreover, the world’s urban population was expected to further grow between now and 2050 due to an increase in new urban-dwellers, with more than 90 per cent expected to be born in developing countries.

Given those statistics, he noted, it was crucial that the post-2015 agenda recognized the need to promote cities that were environmentally sustainable, socially inclusive, economically productive and resilient.  The world should pay specific attention to improved access to adequate housing, water, sanitation, domestic energy and public transport.  Enhancing inclusive national urban policies and reducing the rate of urban land cover and sprawl, in addition to developing policies to strengthen urban resilience was of great importance.  Sustainable urban development had become among the most pressing global challenges of our time and Governments needed to become educated on critical urbanization issues and make joint efforts to build greener, more liveable, convenient, harmonious and environmentally-friendly cities.

LOH SECK TIONG ( Malaysia), aligning himself with the Group of 77 and ASEAN, said urbanization was steadily increasingly and that in 50 years, approximately two-thirds of the world’s population would be living in cities.  The Habitat III conference could provide an efficient platform to address new challenges on that matter.  It must be built on relevant internationally agreed upon goals and ensure a balance between economic development, social development and environment impact.  Malaysia’s Ministry on Housing and Local Government was working with other Government agencies, the private sector and civil society to implement the Habitat Agenda, he said.  Housing programmes were planned and implemented every five years taking into account population trends, family structure, income distribution, and construction capacity.  Additionally, the Government prioritized the housing needs of those in low and middle-income brackets, providing them with rental assistance.

ABULKALAM ABDUL MOMEN ( Bangladesh), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said that world leaders at the Rio+20 Conference reaffirmed that well-planned and developed cities could promote economically, socially and environmentally sustainable societies.  About 868 million people in developing countries or 33 per cent of the total urban population in those countries continued to live in slums.  Developing countries, in particular the least developed countries, required special assistance from the international community not only for housing but also for capacity-building, as well as technical and financial assistance to prevent slum dwelling.  He highlighted several recommendations of the Dhaka Declaration in the area of urbanization including the need to promote sustainable and integrated rural and urban development and minimize the environmental impact of cities by slowing urban sprawl.

WATHSALA AMARASINGHE (Sri Lanka), associating herself with the G77 and China, emphasized that shelter was a fundamental prerequisite for human well-being, as well as a universal objective under Millennium Goal 7.  Despite progress, however, one billion people still lived in slums in rapidly growing cities.  For its part, Sri Lanka had made a “colossal effort” to meet the housing needs of its people.  Outlining numerous initiatives in that regard, she highlighted in particular a national housing policy that had been drafted this year through public and open discussion.  Her country’s goal was an adequate dwelling with basic amenities for every family.  In the wider region of South Asia, she noted that approximately 30 per cent of people lived in cities, and that the figure would double over the next 20 years.  In that context, Sri Lanka cooperated closely with its regional neighbours on South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) framework topics such as housing, urbanization, environment and energy.  Her country called for continuing financial support to UN-Habitat, whose adequate funding was highly important to achieve the goals of the Habitat Agenda.

TOMOKO ONISHI ( Japan) said improved access to housing, water, sanitation, domestic energy and public transport needed to be addressed in the post-2015 agenda.  If the international community addressed the problems posed by cities, it would be possible to achieve sustainable development.  Many countries had struggled with urbanization for many years, particularly developing countries.  Japan also had a great deal of experience with the issues posed by cities.  As the global community faced serious challenges and opportunities due to rapid urban expansion, it was necessary to use the experience and knowledge that had been gained in the field.  Women needed to be empowered and their voiced needed to be heard in order to effectively develop safe, healthy and sustainable cities.  Disaster risk reduction was another key component that was an essential element for sustainable cities.

YOUSHENG KO (China), associating himself with the Group of 77, said human settlement issues were far from being resolved, and sustainable human development was facing new, evolving challenges.  To effectively implement the UN-Habitat Agenda, the international community needed to remain committed to eradicating poverty and delivering sustainable human settlements, while respecting sovereignty.  Improvements in human settlements and environmental concerns needed to be balanced with population growth.  The international community needed to demonstrate the political will to create an enabling environment for developing countries.  Cities played an important role in sustainable development; therefore, the resolution to make October 31st “World Cities Day” should be supported by Member States as it would facilitate sustainable development cooperation worldwide.

MAMADOU MBODJ ( Senegal), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said that the increase of slums in his country was leading to great problems for housing, health, transport, education and hygiene.  Sustainable urban planning must take into consideration the needs of the people, as highlighted at the Rio+20 Conference.  For its part, Senegal had implemented programmes to ensure affordable housing.  The Government was planning to implement an urban renovation plan to improve citizens’ access to real estate and property.  Moreover, re-launching housing policies and upgrading the national banking system would facilitate a more balanced urban structure, with a focus on ensuring the better use of urban space, reducing slums, and addressing the risks of flooding and other urban risks.  He also called for the full integration of the urban housing agenda in the post-2015 development agenda and looked forward to the Habitat III conference.

ANGELINE CHUI ( Singapore), aligning herself with the Group of 77 and ASEAN, said Singapore believed it could contribute to the elaboration of urbanisation in the context of the post-2015 development agenda, and to the advancement of a sustainable development goal for cities and human settlements through the Liveability Framework.  Singapore’s advocacy for sustainable cities and sustainable urbanisation was underscored by its commitment to the Group of Friends for Sustainable Cities, which it co-chaired with Sweden.  In addition, she said that her country supported the convening of the Third United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (HABITAT III) in 2016 and urged Member States to focus on how best they could support the Conference’s preparatory process at all levels.

JUAN ANTONIO SALVADOR (Ecuador), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said there needed to be an integrated approach to sustainable cities which required delving deeper into the surrounding issues.  He emphasized the role of cities as drivers of development and the need to promote societies that were sustainable.  It was essential that the global community discuss and review the urban agenda for the twenty-first century, bearing in mind that urban populations had experienced their greatest growth over the last few decades.  The adverse affects of climate change, unemployment, and poor sanitation needed to be considered in urban planning.  Ecuador attached special importance to the issue of human settlements, including affordable housing and infrastructure, and improving marginal neighbourhoods, urban agriculture and accessibility.

VICENTE AMARAL BEZERRA (Brazil), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, welcomed the focus of the Third United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urbanization (Habitat III) on reinvigorating the global commitment to sustainable cities and stressed that regional perspectives, particularly those of developing countries, would be important to the preparatory process.  UN-Habitat’s strategic framework for 2014-2015 and its strategic plan for 2014-2019 had stressed the importance of urban planning, which he said was a positive step, as it had been absent from prior editions.  Noting that Rio+20 had underlined the importance of planning and building sustainable cities, he called for more ambitious targets on improving slums and for inclusion of sustainable urbanization in the post-2015 development agenda.  Brazil’s own national urban policies were underpinned by the principles of the social role of property and participatory planning, he said, stressing the importance of the Cities Statute of 2001.  Attention was drawn to the “My House My Life” Programme and the National Plan for Basic Sanitation which sought to improve the lives of poor urban dwellers.  He looked forward to the VII World Urban Forum in Medellin in 2014.

Introduction of Reports

NIKHIL SETH, Director of the Division for Sustainable Development, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, introduced a report on agriculture development, food security and nutrition, and said that with 868 million people suffering from chronic undernourishment, the number remained unacceptably high and posed a major global challenge.  Progress had been uneven and subject to setbacks due to food price volatility, conflict and other shocks.  The international community had made progress, although malnutrition in all its forms had not been addressed and a greater emphasis on robust agriculture production was needed.

The linkage between climate change and food security, he said, needed to be considered, as agriculture was more adversely affected by climate change than any other sector.  Demographic and social issues, population growth, inadequate social protection systems and discrimination against vulnerable groups, such as indigenous peoples, posed serious challenges.  There was a need for safety nets to protect those most vulnerable.  The global community was increasingly informed and committed to such issues and much work had been done through large scale initiatives which were having an impact on the global stage.  Public and private investment in food systems needed to strengthen the capacity of small producers and facilitate their access to markets and knowledge.  There was an emerging consensus that actions along multiple dimensions were needed to ensure food security.  The new post-2015 development agenda should be built on an internationally-agreed framework on how to end hunger, while goals that ensured food security and increased nutrition should be considered.

ELIESA TUILOMA ( Fiji), speaking for the Group of 77 and China, said that security and nutrition were essential dimensions of sustainable development.  Increasing agricultural production sustainably to meet the nutritional needs of a growing world population was at the heart of poverty eradication.  Attainment of food security and the move towards sustainable agriculture were important to the sustainable development goals and the post-2015 development agenda.  International trade was also a catalyst to development, he said.  In that context, he stressed the need for a timely conclusion of the Doha Round and called for the outcome of the Bali Ministerial Conference to respect the development mandate taking into account the needs and priorities of developing countries.

Eliminating agricultural subsidies by developed countries was fundamental to the global effort to promote agriculture, rural development and eradicate poverty and hunger, he continued.  Further, the waste of one third of food produced was not sustainable and must change.  In addition, commodity markets should be regulated to avoid excessive volatility and speculative activities and policy actions were required to enhance smallholder producers, who accounted for 85 per cent of the world’s farms.  In that context, closing the gender gap in access to productive resources in agriculture should be a priority at both the national and international levels.  Further the role of the State was vital for investing and building infrastructure conducive to sustainable agriculture.  In closing, he stressed the need for public financing and technology transfer by developed countries to create enabling conditions for sustainable agriculture.

YOSEPH KASSAYE (Ethiopia), speaking on behalf of the African Group and associating himself with the Group of 77, said that agriculture was key to Africa’s development and that without it the continent would not be able to overcome poverty and achieve sustainable development.  He emphasized the role of regional initiatives such as the African Union’s New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), which supported allocating at least 10 per cent of annual national budgets to agriculture.  Smallholder farmers, who dominated Africa’s agriculture sector, must be accorded the necessary attention they deserve.  He welcomed the decision of the Group of 8 countries that reaffirmed commitment with scale and urgency to achieve sustainable global food and nutrition security by recognizing the critical role played by smallholder farmers.

Higher energy prices, coupled with the sensitivity of the sector to the extreme effects of climate change, had led to an increase in food prices and widespread droughts, particularly in Africa, he pointed out.  There was “no choice” but to be firm and committed to addressing climate change and harnessing renewable sources of energy.  The Group noted that agriculture had turned into an increasingly market-driven sector.  Calling for a fair trading system free of distortions, he stressed the need to conclude the Doha Development Round.  International organizations were critical to addressing the challenges of agricultural development and food and nutrition security.

LIBRAN N. CABACTULAN (Philippines), speaking on behalf of ASEAN, said estimates indicate that a total of 842 million people were suffering from chronic hunger due to extreme poverty and up to 2 billion lack food security due to varying degrees of poverty.  The critical issues affecting global food insecurity still confront us, including unstable and inequitable land tenure systems, mitigation and adaptation to climate change and extreme volatility in food prices.

Food supplies and international agriculture policies needed to be linked up with the practical food and hunger needs of millions in the rural countryside, bearing in mind that 75 per cent of the world’s poor remain in those areas.  The international community should consider the promotion of agricultural development of small holder farmers and family-owned farms, bearing in mind that inequities in land-tenure tend to negate agricultural productivity and growth.

GEORGE WILFRED TALBOT (Guyana), speaking on behalf of CARICOM and associating himself with the Group of 77, said agriculture contributed to efforts to overcome poverty and entrenched inequality within and across countries.  However, Caribbean agriculture continued to be beset by a number of factors, particularly the high exposure and vulnerability of the region to natural disasters, the need to adapt to climate change, and difficulties in exploiting economies of scale, due to small population size.  He highlighted several limitations including inadequate levels of investment, uncoordinated risk management measures, low levels of research and weak land and water management systems.  The global financial and economic crisis also had a negative impact on the performance of the agriculture sector.

He highlighted several measures taken by regional Governments to enhance agricultural trade and strengthen collaboration with Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).  The Regional Food and Nutrition Security Policy recognized that food and nutrition security was a multi-dimensional and multi-sectoral issue and that its achievement required simultaneous, holistic and concerted action.  Essential were regional initiatives that aimed to benefit primary producers, such as those farming and fishing in small island developing States.  Small vulnerable Caribbean countries required targeted support for actions which could have an immediate and significant impact on the livelihoods of smallholder farmers.

IOANNIS VRAILAS, speaking on behalf of the European Union, stated that the fact that more than 840 million people remained hungry or undernourished today was unacceptable.  Through its policies, the Union was working to tackle the root causes of vulnerability and food and nutrition insecurity.  The Union had contributed to launching two initiatives, the Alliance Globale pour l’Initiative Résilience and Supporting Horn of Africa Resilience to tackle the situation in the Sahel and the Horn of Africa.  Reaffirming the Union’s commitment to implement all previous G-20 commitments and initiatives, he expressed the groups’ strong support for the Agricultural Market Information System.

Sustainable agriculture and food systems, he added, must be promoted and developing countries must be supported in boosting and diversifying their agricultural production and variety, through investments in research.  Agricultural development and land management that was environmentally, socially and economically sustainable had important mitigation potential.  Furthermore, special attention should be paid to small-holder farmers, particularly women. Alongside agricultural production and food security, the international community must also continue to invest in adequate and balanced nutrition, in particular for pregnant women and for children under the age of two.

MOHAMED ELKARAKSY ( Egypt), associating itself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said a more integrated approach was needed to address food security, given its strong multidimensional nature.  There was a food security dilemma in that increasing productivity would also increase greenhouse gases and put additional strain on water resources.  To increase productivity investments were needed, however, trade distorting measures had negative impacts on products from developing countries.  Food security needed to be addressed in a comprehensive and holistic manner.  This was particularly relevant in the context of the Development Goals and the post-2015 sustainable development agenda.  The impact of climate change in Africa was particularly acute and made it difficult for African countries to reduce the number of people suffering from poverty, particularly since many are reliant of food aid.

GIORA BECHER ( Israel) said that over the past 25 years, Israel’s agricultural output had increased dramatically, with barely any rise in water usage.  Israel had thus developed extensive knowledge and expertise in agricultural systems for dry lands.  Today, “more than 40 per cent of the country’s vegetables and field crops were grown in the desert”.  Through MASHAV, Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation, the country was sharing its solutions around the world.  For instance, Israeli scientist Shlomo Navarro had invented bags that could keep water and air out, a surprisingly simple and cheap way for African and Asian farmers to keep their grain market-fresh.  Further, his country believed it was vital to invest in women as they comprised the majority of the agricultural workforce in many developing countries but lacked access to resources such as fertilizers and good quality seeds as well as training opportunities and land ownership.

MUSTAFIZUR RAHMAN ( Bangladesh) said the agricultural sector was more adversely affected by the unpredictable and extreme effects of climate change than any other.  Climate-sensitive agricultural practices aimed at building the resilience of vulnerable groups could have a wider impact on food security, as could adequate investment in physical infrastructure, scientific and technological development, research and agricultural extension services.  The international community needed to provide funding for the long-term investment in agriculture, including the supply of essential inputs, such as gas, electricity, seed, fertilizer, and equipment.  Furthermore, as agriculture had been turned into an increasingly market-driven sector, the global community needed a rules-based, equitable, and multilateral trade regime.  Additionally, the provision of social protection to the marginalized and impoverished section of society was another critical component of achieving food security.  As small holdings account for 85 per cent of the world’s farms, if those farmers do not get paid for their products, they would be discouraged to produce more.  Finally, food security could not be fully realized unless the international community changed its consumption patterns.  Eliminating, or substantially reducing, food waste and loss could greatly augment the food supply, helping to answer the question of how the world would feed another two billion people in the coming decades without additional deforestation and further land degradation.

VADIM PISAREVICH ( Belarus) said there had been some success in reducing global hunger, yet, progress in that area was not sustainable.  Crisis and conflict had not allowed the global community to eradicate poverty and provide sufficient food to people.  Of particular concern was climate change, which could lead to global food insecurity.  Today, the international community had a dilemma to face — how to increase food production to provide for the growing population, despite grave threats to the earth’s soil and forests.  The international community needed to look at issues in an integrated manner, including the environment, trade policies, population growth and research in order to make production sustainable.

MAURÍCIO FÁVERO ( Brazil), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said that international trade played a decisive role in food security.  Protectionism in developed countries had been threatening food security in the developing world, as it hindered their agricultural production by exposing them to unfair competition from subsidized goods while denying access to important external markets.  Agricultural protectionism also granted unfair advantages to producers in developed countries, which already enjoyed better market and financial conditions.  It also discouraged production diversification and investment in the rural sector in developing countries.  The absence of free trade in agriculture markets was an obstacle to self-reliance in developing countries, especially in Africa.  He underlined the role of family farming and highlighted a programme that aimed to increase their participation in national markets.  He also stressed the importance South-South Cooperation and science research and technological innovation as engines of food security.

BRIANNA PETERSON ( Canada) said the recently released “State of Food Insecurity in the World” report illustrated there had been some progress made towards the malnourished population, but the number remained unacceptably high: 842 million people in the world, or one in eight, suffered from chronic hunger.  The international community needed to keep agriculture high on the international development agenda in order to address current and future food security and hunger challenges.  At the global level, Canada was playing a leading role in shifting the world development’s focus from food security solely to food security and nutrition with such initiatives as the Scaling Up Nutrition Movement and the G8 New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition.  Through the New Alliance, Canada had been specifically assisting African farmers to improve their yields and sell their crops; strengthening and deepening food security programming in Ghana, Ethiopia and Malawi; developing a new Canadian-led initiative to support innovative nutrition technologies with the International Fund for Agricultural Development; and, committing funding to the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program.  However, those national agricultural development strategies needed to be based on the participation of smallholder farmers.  Therefore, the transformative value of agriculture to alleviate poverty required a commitment to the basic tenets of private property protections, as well as a regulatory environment that sought to encourage entrepreneurship rather than stifle it.

FERNADO FERNÁNDEZ-ARIAS MINUESA ( Spain) said his country had made considerable efforts to maintain the fight against hunger high on the international agenda and had participated in initiatives with significant global impact.  For instance, it had supported from the start the reform process of the Committee on Food Security in order to turn it into an inclusive policy space for coordination and debate.  Spain had also announced €500 million of additional aid for 2009-2011 to L’Aquila Food Security Initiative and €70 million to the public sector window of the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program.  As well, it was committed to regional initiatives, such as the Hunger Free Latin America and the Caribbean Initiative 2025, which had invested $90 million to fund programmes in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, among others.  A recently signed agreement between Spain and the World Food Programme (WFP) for the establishment of a logistic base in the port of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria would ensure the permanent distribution of humanitarian aid to more than 7 million people in West Africa.

MOHANNA SALEH ABAL-KHALIL (SAUDI ARABIA), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said agricultural development needed to be promoted through investment, land reclamation, scientific research, as well as efforts on the national, regional and international levels to curb rising prices.  The global food crisis had resulted in higher prices for basic food commodities and in turn negatively impacted the standard of living in many countries, particularly developing countries.  Saudi Arabia was among the top countries supporting international efforts to address the food crisis, including in 2008, when it donated $500 million to support the efforts of the World Food Programme (WFP), which benefited 62 developing countries.

USMAN SARKI (Nigeria), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said that agriculture and food security were adversely affected by the global economic crisis, as well as the unpredictable and extreme effects of climate change.  With nearly 900 million people suffering from chronic malnourishment, there was an urgent need for the global community to deliver the most vulnerable from extreme poverty and hunger.  The global food crisis left many African countries stressed in terms of food security.  Nigeria called for regional and international support to strengthen the capacity of developing countries towards enhancing their productivity and the nutritional quality of food crops, as well as the promotion of sustainable practices in agricultural activities.  Efforts at addressing food security challenges and the eradication of poverty must be nationally articulated and designed, such as Nigeria’s Agricultural Transformation Agenda designed to create more than 3.5 million jobs and provide $2 billion of additional income for Nigeria’s farmers.

FENG XIN ( China), associating herself with the Group of 77, said with 2015 quickly approaching, there are still millions living in hunger.  The world was facing a colossal task to reach the Millennium Development Goals.  The world economy was experiencing slow growth.  Countries should place agriculture development, food production, infrastructure preparedness for risk reduction and the promotion of science and technology at the top of their agendas.  The international community should increase processing capacities and improve storage and distribution operations, while minimizing waste.  Countries should work together to enhance cooperation and communication at the policy level.  China was opposed to protectionism and favoured trade facilitation, saying developed countries should actively support the efforts of developing countries.

JIM MCLAY ( New Zealand) said that as his country was a major agricultural producer, it was acutely aware of both the opportunities and the challenges associated with the sustainable use of natural resources for agricultural development.  Last summer’s drought reminded that the agricultural sector was particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, which at the local level was felt most keenly by small-holder farmers in developing countries.  As a small State, New Zealand was also mindful of the impact climate change had on oceans and availability of fish stocks, on which many people depended for their food and for their livelihoods.  He highlighted the importance of innovation, technology and local knowledge in increasing productivity and building resilience of food production systems.  An open and transparent trading environment was also vital for food security, by supporting access to and facilitation between regional and international markets.  Trade barriers and high subsidies compromised the ability of farmers in all countries, but particularly those in developing ones.

BISHNU PRASAD GAUTAM (Nepal), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries, pointed out that 868 million people suffered from undernourishment and 26 per cent of children worldwide were stunted.  Hence, it was essential to address the relation between agriculture, poverty, gender inequality and excessively volatile food prices.  He stressed the need to examine and reconsider food waste, and the overall consumption and production pattern and trade of agricultural products.  Nepal’s food policy aimed to increase productivity, enhance entrepreneurship, develop and diversify environmentally friendly agricultural technology.  The melting of Himalayan glaciers, loss of biodiversity, increasing trends of landslides, droughts, and flash floods had caused adverse effects on agriculture alongside the rapid loss of land fertility and a decline in crop yields, leading to food insecurity and poverty.  The situation of food insecurity was largely due to a low level of investment, neglect of structural transformation of the agricultural sector, a lack of application of appropriate technology and decreasing levels of official development assistance (ODA).

GANKHUURAI BATTUNGALAG ( Mongolia) said having recognized the need to address food price increases, her country’s Government took action at the policy and practical levels.  The Government had taken measures to achieve the three main objectives of promoting food production to reduce the country’s dependency on imported goods, raising public awareness about food quality and ensuring safe food production and processing in the country.  Mongolia also believed that empowering rural women was crucial for enhancing agricultural and rural development.  Sustainable agriculture development and food security deserved special attention in the post-2015 development agenda and sustainable development goals and should be integrated into priority goals, targets and indicators.

TENGKU MOHD DZARAIF KADIR ( Malaysia) outlined his country’s efforts in expanding the agriculture sector, reforming the agro-food industry, and increasing food production and supply.  Malaysia had also been actively involved in regional cooperation in food security.  At the international level, his country underscored the importance of freer trade in ensuring food security and called on developed countries to refrain from adopting protectionist and export restrictive measures that could create imbalances in international agriculture production and supply in order to avoid volatility in food prices.  Efforts to increase investment in the sector could not be seen as the main responsibility of the Government alone, and private funding was necessary to invigorate the sector.  It was imperative that sustainable agriculture and food security and nutrition be part of the sustainable development agenda beyond 2015.  In that regard, international financing for developing countries to develop their agriculture production and to improve their food security and nutrition situation should be significantly increased.

THALAPITA RALALAGE WARUNA SRI DHANAPALA ( Sri Lanka), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said that agriculture was a major economic contributor, constituting for 11.1 per cent of his country’s gross domestic product (GDP).  Agriculture was the livelihood of the majority in the rural sector and contributed significantly to alleviating poverty.  Highlighting that food production had increased by more than 25 per cent during the last decade, he said, Sri Lanka had achieved the goal of self-sufficiency in rice, making the country secure in a staple food.  In 2012, Sri Lanka also donated 10,000 metric tons of rice to the East African region including to Somalia and Ethiopia to feed tens of thousands of refugees.  On a national level, the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development were guiding national agricultural activities.  Additionally, he highlighted several measures taken by the Government to promote sustainable agriculture including the formation of a National Nutrition Policy which carried out research on field crops, vegetables and fruits, as well as a national plan to supply iron and vitamins to all pregnant women.

Ms. AL-MOUSAWI ( Iraq), associating herself with the Group of 77 and China, said her country had worked to achieve food security by enriching the agriculture sector and making it into an effective partner.  Strategic crop production for items such as wheat and dates had increased.  There had also been an increase in fish farms.  The establishment of credit funds for farmers was one of the most important programmes under Iraqi agriculture initiatives.  Strengthening the role of the private sector was one of the main drivers of development in agriculture and enabled farmers to undertake investment projects.

PORNSITH PIBULNAKARINTR ( Thailand), aligning himself with ASEAN and the Group of 77, said that food insecurity must be addressed in a holistic manner, taking into account both food availability and food accessibility.  On availability, substantial gains could be realized through increased investment and technological improvement.  Thailand was currently implementing a national agricultural zoning programme by mapping out areas around the country to identify suitable zones for each crop using satellite data.  On food accessibility, it was crucial to remain committed to a free, fair and open international food market.  Thailand supported the inclusion of food security as a key element of the post-2015 development agenda.

APPOLINAIRE DINGHA (Congo), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said the food crisis had not yet been resolved, as one-third of the world’s population was still suffering from malnutrition.  Issues of agricultural development and food security and nutrition were at the centre of the Congolese Government’s development agenda.  Congo was working to implement a national programme to promote food security and an experimental project to build agricultural villages in rural areas which would enable food needs to be met without relying on imports.  The commitment of the Government to food security and agricultural development was constant, in spite of the limitations in the international context.

YOUSSOUFOU BAMBA, (Côte D’Ivoire), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said that in spite of the progress made to fight hunger, the question of food security remained a pressing issue for mankind.  Côte d’Ivoire attached great importance to food security and agriculture, based on the fact that it was largely an agriculture-based society.  His country’s national agricultural initiatives included efforts to reduce food insecurity, reduce poverty in rural areas, stimulate the agricultural network and create jobs.  There were well-structured partnership between stakeholders and the agricultural sector, as well as the public and private sectors.  Projects already underway were estimated to total around $460 million.  All initiatives taken by his country would prosper in the framework of a supportive international framework.

SHEIKA ALYA AHMED SEIF AHMED AL-THANI ( Qatar), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said the recent food crisis constituted a great challenge to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.  Food security was being examined on the international level, as well as issues of drought, desertification and soil degradation.  It was clear that a global approach would be needed to achieve sustainable agricultural goals.  There was consensus that similar steps would be needed to guarantee food security, which needed to include the activities of women and the needs of rural communities.  The conclusion of the Doha Round would be needed to ensure fairer trade and access to new markets for developing countries.  Access to food was a fundamental right; particularly for women, children, the elderly, the disabled and indigenous persons.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.