New York

29 October 2009

Secretary-General's message at Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) event on World Food Day

His Excellency Mr. Ali Abdussalam Treki, President of the 64th Session of the United Nations General Assembly,

Her Excellency. Ms. Sylvie Lucas, President of the Economic and Social Council,

Mr. Jacques Diouf, Director-General of the Food Agriculture Organization of the United Nations,

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a pleasure to be with you today.

Just one month ago in this very chamber I co-chaired a high-level event on partnering for food security with United States Secretary of State Hilary Clinton.

As you have just seen in a very compelling video, food and nutritional security are the foundations of a decent life, a sound education for children and, indeed, the achievement of all the Millennium Development Goals.

Over the past two years, volatile food prices, the economic crisis, climate change and conflict have led to a dramatic and unacceptable rise in the number of people who cannot rely on getting the food they need to live, work and thrive.

For the first time in history, more than one billion people are hungry.

Throughout the developing world, food prices remain stubbornly high and volatile. We must respond to the needs of the hungry, first by ensuring adequate political and financial support for emergency food assistance.

The theme for this year's World Food Day and for the Food and Agriculture Organization's TeleFood campaign is “Achieving food security in times of crisis”.

It emphasizes that we need even greater efforts on behalf of those worst affected by poverty and hunger. We need also to support the committed women and men who often risk their lives to deliver help to the most vulnerable.

Second, we must invest in food production and distribution.

Last year, I set up a High-Level Task Force on the Global Food Crisis. Its Comprehensive Framework for Action outlines a strategy to provide safety nets and assistance for smallholder farmers. It looks to support longer-term agricultural productivity and resilience, social protection schemes, market access and fair trade.

Nations are mobilizing for action. In July, 26 countries and 14 multilateral organizations agreed to work together under the umbrella of the L'Aquila initiative on food security.

Next month's World Summit on Food Security in Rome is a further opportunity to focus on country-led and regional strategies, country-level partnerships and increased levels of assistance.

The challenges of food security demand multilateral commitment, creativity and leadership.

At this time of crisis, I encourage all nations to pursue coordinated and comprehensive strategies for agricultural development and effective social protection.

Vulnerable people –women and children in particular –must get the food they need for nutritional security and well-being.

Thank you.