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At World Food Summit, countries back global action plan against hunger

At World Food Summit, countries back global action plan against hunger

Countries from across the globe attending a United Nations conference in Rome have renewed their commitment to reduce by half the number of hungry people in the world by no later than 2015, the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), which is organizing the event, announced today.

In a unanimously approved Declaration, States attending the “World Food Summit: five years later” meeting called on governments, international organizations, civil society groups and the private sector to “reinforce their efforts so as to act as an international alliance against hunger.” These efforts are aimed at ending the tragedy of more than 800 million people going hungry around the world.

The Declaration, approved on Monday, also calls for the FAO Council to “elaborate, in a period of two years, a set of voluntary guidelines to support Member States’ efforts to achieve the progressive realization of the right to adequate food.”

The text also outlines specific measures to ensure funding for these efforts. “With a view to reversing the overall decline of agriculture and rural development in the national budgets of developing countries, in official development assistance (ODA) and in total lending in international financial institutions, we call for an adequate share for those sectors of bilateral and multilateral ODA, lending by international financial institutions and budgetary allocations of developing countries.”

In addition, developed countries are urged to make concrete efforts towards the target of allocating 0.7 per cent of gross national product (GNP) to ODA. The Declaration also calls for a “speedy, effective and full implementation” of a special debt relief plan, called the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative.

The Rome meeting, which opened yesterday and runs through Thursday, has attracted the participation of numerous heads of State and government.

Addressing participants today, James Morris, the Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP), called attention to the plight of the 13 million people facing starvation in southern Africa. He said that the fact that the crisis coincides with the Summit “challenges us to demonstrate to those suffering that we will not forget them.”

Kul Gautam, Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), also addressed today’s session, urging comprehensive action against child malnutrition. He said global efforts to fight malnutrition must start will children, who suffered most from the damaging effects of inadequate food.

The Rome meeting opened yesterday and runs until Thursday.