L'Aquila, Italy

10 July 2009

Secretary-General's remarks to the Group of Eight Food Security Session


Thank you for this opportunity to start our discussion on food security.

Last year's major spike in food and energy prices affected hundreds of millions of people. It amplified suffering, hardship and political unrest. We lost ground in our race to reach the first Millennium Development Goal.

In response, governments, regional agencies, civil society groups and international organizations joined forces to feed the hungry and prepare for a better future.

Since then, global food prices have come down, but they are still high in many developing countries. And the situation is only getting worse with today's volatile markets, breakdown in world trade, climate change effects and falling income from job losses.

The number of chronically hungry people is now a staggering one billion –the highest ever.

To help them, decision-makers have to know precisely who is at risk and how to meet their needs. That is why the United Nations is creating a Global Impact and Vulnerability Alert System: to compile real-time data and analyses from the best available information around the world.

More and more, world leaders understand our shared responsibility to ensure that every single person on earth has enough food. We saw this in Tokayo, when you pledged to reverse the decline in food aid and investments in agriculture. We saw this at the April G-20 meeting, which concluded with a pledge to ensure food security. Other new initiatives are being announced. And the World Food Programme is coordinating a massive response to acute hunger.

But we need to do more, faster. The food crisis is permanently harming millions of children. They need our help. This is about even more than alleviating human suffering; it is about global peace and stability.

I see four areas for concrete action.

First, we need to combine new initiatives so that we maximize their impact. We cannot afford any inconsistencies or duplication.

Second, we must commit to a comprehensive approach that tackles both the immediate and long-term dimensions of the problem. And we must agree on using indicators of progress and regularly monitoring achievements.

Third, we must support national food security strategies, working through regional institutions.

Fourth, we must make sure that countries have the financial support they need for

immediate assistance and longer-term actions. We have to deliver this through well-coordinated funding channels based on their comparative advantages.

My High-Level Task Force is working to ensure that the UN system, international financial institutions and the WTO are ready to provide robust and consistent support to countries struggling to cope with food insecurity. This is a long-term effort and it will require a comprehensive push to back solid partnerships, strong strategies and well-financed actions that empower communities to become food secure. And it must be based on rigorous analysis of both needs and impact.

We are ready to do all this and much more. I will continue working with all of you to help the world's hungry, and in the process secure a more peaceful and stable future for all.

Thank you.