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FAO/3644
19 November 1996

WORLD FOOD SUMMIT CONCLUDES IN ROME

19 November 1996


Press Release
FAO/3644


WORLD FOOD SUMMIT CONCLUDES IN ROME

19961119 ROME, 19 November (FAO) -- The five-day World Food Summit concluded Sunday, 17 November, having set a course for achieving universal food security -- "Food for All" -- by adopting the Rome Declaration on World Food Security and the World Food Summit Plan of Action.

Representatives of 186 countries pledged their "political will and common and national commitment" to an ongoing effort to eradicate hunger from the world by ensuring that "all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life". The Declaration and Plan of Action give governments the prime responsibility for achieving food security and call on them to cooperate actively in a "Food for All" campaign.

"We have the possibility to do it. We have the knowledge. We have the resources. And with the Declaration of Rome and the Plan of Action, we've shown that we have the will," Jacques Diouf, Director General of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), told the closing session. The Director-General challenged the world to a race against time to achieve the Summit goal of reducing the number of hungry people in the world by half by the year 2015. But, he said, "This is not a maximum goal; it's a minimum goal."

The Summit was only the beginning of the fight to ensure that "babies would not cry of hunger and that mothers will not be looking at children who have no hope", the Director-General said. "And I'm convinced that what you have shown here during these days is certainly the greatest indication that together we will win against poverty, we will win against scepticism, we will win against cynicism, we will win against egoism and that the best of human values will prevail in the relations among nations, among states and within communities."

The Plan of Action contains seven commitments on the part of governments, which are expected to lead to significant reductions in chronic hunger. The commitments cover seven specific areas:

-- The general conditions for economic and social progress conducive to food security;

-- Poverty eradication and access to adequate food; -- Sustainable increases in food production; -- The contribution of trade to food security; -- Preparedness, prevention and response to food emergencies; -- Optimal investment in human resources, sustainable production capacity and rural development; -- Cooperation in implementing and monitoring the Plan of Action.

The FAO has reported that although the world currently produces enough food for the global population, there are some 840 million undernourished people in developing countries and millions more in developed countries. It cites poverty as a major cause of this persistent hunger. Population growth is levelling off, according to the FAO calculations, but the world will still need to increase food production by 75 per cent to feed an expected population of 8.7 billion people, 3 billion more than at present, by the year 2030.

Representatives at the Summit included 41 Presidents, 15 Vice Presidents and 41 Prime Ministers. A total of 9,863 delegates attended, including representatives of non-governmental organizations, United Nations agencies and other international bodies, journalists and support staff. Non-governmental organizations, youth, parliamentarians, family farmers associations and the private sector held parallel meetings in Rome during the Summit and reported to the Summit on their conclusions.

The direct costs of the meeting, as included in the FAO's budget, were just over $1.2 million. Voluntary contributions of about $7 million from governments, international organizations and the private sector covered the costs of temporary infrastructure and the participation of poorer countries in developing their national strategies and in attending the Summit. Other expenses were met with contributions in kind from member countries, foundations and the private sector.

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For information media. Not an official record.