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Starting new lecture series, Secretary-General issues warning on food crisis

Starting new lecture series, Secretary-General issues warning on food crisis

The current food crisis threatens to undo all the recent efforts to lift people out of poverty around the world and could spark related economic, social and political crises, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today at the inaugural event in the Geneva Lecture series.

“We are familiar with the causes: rising oil prices, growing global demand, bad trade policies, bad weather, panic buying and speculation, the new craze of biofuels derived from food products and so on and so on,” Mr. Ban said at the lecture, jointly organized by the UN Office at Geneva (UNOG) and the UN Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR).

He warned that the recent surge in prices of basic foods, such as rice, wheat and corn, already having an enormous impact on poor people worldwide, could lead to further deleterious effects.

“If not managed properly, it [the food crisis] could touch off a cascade of related crises – affecting trade, economic growth, social progress and even political security around the world.”

But the Secretary-General also said he was confident that the world has both the resources and the knowledge to deal with the problems, and he called on leaders to see the crisis as not just a problem, but as an opportunity.

“It is a huge chance to address the root problems of many of the world’s poorest people, 70 per cent of whom live as small farmers. If we help them – if we offer aid and the right mix of sound local and international policies – the solution will come. And along the way we will have struck a mighty blow for social equity and development.”

He called for a mix of short-term and long-term measures, including steps to immediately feed the most hungry people and actions to help farmers bring in their next harvests.

Today’s lecture is the first of a series that aims to raise awareness to a wide audience in Geneva of the most pressing global challenges and focus on how individuals can contribute to resolving such problems.