Two United Nations agencies have called on the leaders attending this week’s meeting of the Group of Eight (G8) industrialized nations not to forget the needs of the world’s hungry, whose number is expected to top 1 billion this year, and to take action to ensure food security.
Hunger is among the issues on the agenda of the G8 summit in L’Aquila, Italy, which comes just two weeks after the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) announced that there are now more hungry people in the world than ever before.
According to FAO, the most recent increase in hunger is not the consequence of poor global harvests but is caused by the world economic crisis that has resulted in lower incomes and increased unemployment. This has reduced access to food by the poor, it said.
“The incidence of both lower incomes due to the economic crisis and persisting high food prices has proved to be a devastating combination for the world’s most vulnerable populations,” the agency stated in a background paper prepared for the summit, scheduled for 8 to 10 July.
Meanwhile, the head of the World Food Programme (WFP) is urging G8 leaders to boost long-term agricultural production while continuing to support immediate hunger assistance.
“We learned a lesson last year when rising food prices caused an epidemic of hunger leading to food riots in more than 30 countries. Without food people revolt, migrate or die. None of these are acceptable options,” said Executive Director Josette Sheeran.
The Rome-based agency said that global food aid supplies last year were at a 34-year low, and food aid has dropped 35 per cent since 1995.
“We cannot afford to lose a generation to malnutrition, starvation and despair,” said Ms. Sheeran. “Addressing immediate hunger needs is a critical long-term investment in healthy, stable societies.”
She added that it is a “false logic” for the world to say that it will either invest in tomorrow’s agriculture or today’s urgent food needs. “There is no question that we must do both,” she stated.