UN official praises G8 leaders' commitment to boosting food security

UN official praises G8 leaders' commitment to boosting food security

The recent pledge made by leaders of the so-called Group of Eight (G8) industrialized countries to mobilize $20 billion to boost food security is a “substantive” commitment, a senior United Nations official said today.

“Countries themselves know they are going to be held to account over that pledge” made at the G8 summit earlier this month in L’Aquila, Italy, David Nabarro, Coordinator of the High-Level Task Force on the Global Food Crisis, told reporters in New York.

“We are really pleased that food security is now back and central on the international agenda,” he said.

But the official cautioned that a jump in spending should not come at the expense of other priorities, such as health and education.

Addressing the same press conference today, Robert Orr, Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Planning, stressed that the outcome from the G8 gathering is “a first step, and there’s much more to be done.”

Mr. Nabarro noted that in spite of the progress made in L’Aquila, the funding gap currently faced by the UN World Food Programme (WFP), which he described as “the world’s anti-famine mechanism.”

The agency had a record income of $5 billion last year, but at present is two-thirds short of the resources needed to respond to food demands worldwide, he said.

On influenza A(H1N1), Mr. Nabarro, who serves as Senior UN System Coordinator for Avian and Human Influenza, said that the work done on avian influenza has laid the groundwork to address the current pandemic.

While in relatively prosperous countries, the A(H1N1) pandemic has not been very serious, he said.

But evidence shows, Mr. Nabarro said, that in communities where resources are not dedicated to health care at the same level as very wealthy nations that “they are going to face greater problems,” with the UN now focusing on building stronger relationships with poorer nations, especially the least developed ones, to ensure that “they have some chance of being able to access the particular things that they need in order to be able to deal with these problems.”