06 July 2011

Remarks to Civil Society on Food Security and Sustainable Development [as delivered]

Ban Ki-moon

Let me begin by expressing my profound thanks to Prime Minister Zapatero and all of you, leaders of civil society. This is my eighth visit to Spain in just four and a half years. This is my first visit soon after I was reelected as Secretary-General for a second term. I thought what I should do in a very limited way to contribute to humanity and this is to visit Spain as the first country soon after being elected to a second term. Muchas gracias for your hospitality.

This is a very important subject and common responsibility which we have to address - food security.

Another important issue which I was very pleased to take part in, together with His Royal Highness Crown Prince Felipe in Valencia, was that we together launched a United Nations Support Base in Valencia. This is a very generous gift, contribution, of the Spanish people and Government for the work of the United Nations - how the United Nations can perform our work more efficiently and effectively to save lives around the world through connecting our mission people around the world. This is state of the art technology – communications facilities – very impressive, fantastic facilities which I, together with His Royal Highness, opened today. And I thank you very much, in that regard, I am doing two very important things which will make the United Nations work better and which will work more for humanity.

This afternoon, let us talk about humanity. I deeply appreciate your commitment to fighting global poverty, advancing food security and achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Achieving these MDGs by 2015 – that is our common responsibility. I deeply appreciate and highly comment the leadership of President [of the Government] Zapatero for his role as co-chair of the MDG Advocacy Group. This is what he has organized as a way of his strong commitment and demonstration of his political will to achieve these MDGs.

There can be no better advocate than President Zapatero. I was so pleased that he accepted my invitation to serve as the co-Chair of this MDG Advocacy Group. I also want to thank him for his tremendous leadership on global food and nutrition issues and for leading our subgroup on Food Security and Sustainable Development. When this crisis happened in 2008, and as leaders continued to discuss this matter, without President Zapatero's effective intervention and leadership we would not be here today to discuss, most seriously, and engaging all the world's leaders and engaging business and government and civil society leaders. Again, thank you very much.

And I appreciate also Amb. Dho Young-Shim who is a member of the MDG Advocacy Group, who has come such a long way to participate in this meeting from Korea. And I am also very happy to be here together with Dr. [David] Nabarro, who has been a coordinator and a special representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations in these meetings.

For my part, let me just say that the Advocacy Group is made up of a wide range of global thinkers, doers and achievers. They understand the importance of meeting the MDGs – and the power of reaching people. They also understand that civil society is an integral part of the solution.

I thank you for all you are doing to end hunger. To accelerate development. To help young people. To promote equality. And to defend human rights.

We need you to keep working and pushing.

As we all know, we live in an increasingly interconnected world. But it is not just countries and people who are more linked, it is issues and challenges. Our global challenges are all interlinked. Look at the case of climate change, which was mentioned already. Food security, water scarcity, energy shortages and global health – all these are interconnected. So we have to address these issues from a broader perspective and in a more comprehensive manner.

If we can therefore connect these dots between food, energy, water, and health issues – a solution to one can be a solution to all.

That is the essence of our work on sustainable development – and the driving theme as we look to the upcoming Rio + 20 conference next year.

Food security is crucial. Yes, it is a primary development objective in its own right. But food security is also among the keys to achieving all the MDGs – with a big multiplier effect on education, health and women's empowerment. If we solve food security issues, we can solve even gender empowerment, health and education.

Food security is also a matter of peace and security. When there is nothing to eat, there is serious distrust and frustration which lead to social and political instability, as we have witnessed in recent years with riots over food prices in many countries.

As you may know, in response to the food crisis of 2008, I immediately established a High-level Task Force on the Global Food Security Crisis which has developed a Comprehensive Framework for Action. I have chaired this meeting over the past almost three years – 18 times.

It emphasizes a twin-track approach, addressing both immediate needs as well as structural causes of food insecurity.

Support for smallholder farmers is at the center – with strong links between food security and land, water, the environment and women's empowerment.

Since 2009, donors have pledged generous financial support at the G8 and G20 Summits. This year, the G20 made commitments to improve food security, specifically by reducing food price volatility and enhancing agricultural productivity.

Many developing-country governments have also increased their investments in agriculture and food security.

There is also growing attention on nutrition -- both direct nutritional interventions as well as nutrition-sensitive development.

I encourage all partners to support the growing “Scaling Up Nutrition” movement - this is abbreviated to SUN, so you will know the meaning of SUN - and the Global Strategy for Women's and Children's Health, which incorporates nutrition as an integral component.

On all these issues, we continue to enhance coordination throughout the UN system and beyond.

Now is the time to focus on the “how” of enhanced food security. That means working together on several key challenges:

First, by making sure that the billions of dollars pledged for food security are made available to support investment in sustainable agriculture - including through the Global Agriculture and Food Security Programme.

Second, by establishing stronger partnerships between government, businesses, and civil society.

Third, by working together with international organizations and G20 leaders towards limiting excessive food price volatility.

Fourth, by encouraging governments to expand and improve food-based safety nets that safeguard nutrition.

Fifth, by ensuring that trade in foodstuffs becomes more open and more equitable, and that the WTO Doha Trade Round is concluded quickly.

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

I once again thank President Zapatero for his pioneering efforts and all of you for your own commitment and leadership. I look forward to your continued ideas and engagement.

Muchas gracias.