Fund for better food standards in world's poorest States proposed at UN meeting

Fund for better food standards in world's poorest States proposed at UN meeting

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Participants attending a United Nations conference on the world's poorest States proposed today a number of new initiatives aimed at alleviating poverty and promoting development in these "least developed" nations, also known as LDCs.

On the second day of the week-long Third UN Conference on the Least Developed Countries, the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) proposed the creation of a $98 million fund to improve the safety and quality of food products in those States. That figure represents the estimated $2 million required for each of the 49 LDCs to enhance their agriculture and fisheries sectors in the next 3-5 years. The proposed fund would be set up with voluntary contributions from donors.

Calling for a "huge increase in investment in agriculture," FAO's Assistant Director-General, Hartwig da Haen, said "most LDCs are far from being at a cutting edge of available agricultural technology and there is great potential to increase both productivity and production."

Adequate nutrition in the LDCs was a key theme today at the Conference, which held an interactive session on "Enhancing Productive Capacities: the Agricultural Sector and Food Security." The session focused on the links among agricultural development, food security, rural development and poverty alleviation. Participants identified concrete actions that bilateral and multilateral development partners could take to accelerate LDC agricultural development and, in so doing, substantially reduce poverty and hunger.

A separate interactive session focused on "Intellectual Property and Development -- An Instrument for Wealth Creation." Addressing that event, the Director-General of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) stressed the need to bring about a "quantum leap" in the LDCs' intellectual property systems. Roberto Castelo said building the capacity of LDCs in the area of intellectual property would result not only in an increase in the number of patents, but would also promote development in such areas as food security, electronic commerce and health.

The Conference also drew the participation of some 300 mayors from throughout the world, who gathered to discuss various aspects of city-to-city cooperation in a day-long meeting today. Addressing that event, the Executive Director of the UN Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat), Anna Tibaijuka, noted that while globalization had placed many cities in a highly competitive framework, those in LDCs often lacked the experience and capacity to compete. She called for measures to help cities in LDCs access financial assistance.

The forum brings together the leaders of some 30 donor countries and LDCs, as well as heads of UN and international organisations. The conference, hosted by the European Union, ends on Sunday.