Wednesday, November 18, 2009

FYI: Africa: World Food Summit throws away chance to stop one billion going hungry

ActionAid (Washington, DC)

Africa: World Food Summit throws away chance to stop one billion going hungry

18 November 2009

press release

The UN World Food Summit threw away a great chance to stop more than one billion people going hungry.

"You would think that the 20 per cent jump in the number of hungry since 2005, would spur determined and decisive action. But the World Food Summit failed to make any major breakthroughs. And the G8 leaders didn't even bother turning up.  Warm words don't fill empty stomachs," said Adriano Campolina, ActionAid's Regional Director for Latin America.

One of the biggest issues left untackled was the challenge of food security and agriculture while the reformed UN Committee on Food Security is still without sufficient funds, risking it becoming just a talking shop.

Smallholder farmers in developing countries are still vulnerable to the harmful effects of climate change as no signals were sent to Copenhagen to provide ADDITIONAL resources to help them adapt.

"The World Food Summit announced the need to increase production by 70 per cent in order to feed growing populations of up to 9 billion by 2050 through bio-technology," said Francisco Sarmento, ActionAid's head of food rights.

"But we need to fundamentally re-think the way we grow food if we are to sustain people and the planet in future.

"Evidence shows that supporting small family farms with ecologically sound farming practices is the way forward. Agriculture is currently contributing to around 30% of climate change emissions and is degrading the environment. Something needs to change – and fast."

The summit offered more of the same – with increased use of 'biotechnology'.  "World leaders have overlooked the opportunity to follow more sustainable options helping to mitigate climate change and feed the world," said Sarmento.

"Governments should have declared that any climate change agreement in Copenhagen should commit resources IN ADDITION to existing aid budgets to help smallholder farmers adapt to climate change."

Meanwhile in the last seven days, nearly 180,000 citizens from around the world have signed a joint Avaaz-ActionAid petition calling on G8 governments to deliver, in full, the $20 billion developing country agriculture and food security package pledged last July.

On World Food Day, hundreds of thousands of people rallied across 25 countries, with ActionAid demanding that governments 'free the billion hungry people' and take action at the World Food Summit.  L'Aquila was a welcome step in the right direction but there must now be a timetable for disbursement, ensuring the pledge is delivered in full, with genuinely new funds.

President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso, announcing this week that one fifth of the G8 money would come from the EC, failed to mention that any of it was new," said Francisco Sarmento, ActionAid's Head of Food Rights.

"His pledge was a repacking of existing commitments, such as funds from the one billion euro food facility approved last December, the food security thematic programme and the European Development Fund."

Copyright © 2009 ActionAid. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (

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