Wednesday, 4 June 2008

High-Level Conference on World Food Security: the Challenges of Climate Change and Bioenergy

The recent thirty-fourth session of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Conference, held during November 2007, called for a series of expert meetings and stakeholder consultations on climate change and bioenergy, to be followed by a High-Level Conference on World Food Security and the Challenges of Climate Change and Bioenergy.

FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf today appealed to world leaders for
US$30 billion a year to re-launch agriculture and avert future threats of conflicts over food.
The preparatory meetings were held January-April 2008 and the High-Level Conference takes place 3-5 June 2008. The High-Level Conference is informed by work undertaken and findings which emerged from the expert meetings and stakeholder consultations, as well as new analysis undertaken by the Organization, as part of its regular activities.

This High-Level Conference has become even more timely in light of soaring food prices and the additional challenges this situation poses to achieving global food security. Many Heads of State and Governments attend, as well as the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, transforming the June High-Level Conference into a true Summit on world food security.

The High-Level Conference on World Food Security: the Challenges of Climate Change and Bioenergy opened on 3 June 2008, at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) headquarters in Rome, Italy. In the morning, after an opening plenary, a High-Level Segment convened. In the afternoon, the High-Level Segment resumed and a Committee of the Whole (COW) met to review the draft declaration of the Conference (HLC/08/3). The COW decided to reconvene the Informal Open-ended Working Group to carry out that review.

As delegates gathered in Rome on Tuesday, they seemed to be well aware of the heavy responsibility placed on their shoulders: formulating concrete strategies and practical solutions to tackle the world’s growing food crisis. The attendance of some 30 Heads of State and Government to what was qualified as a “de facto” summit by FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf reinforced their sense of urgency. Some delegates remarked that the various leaders’ statements served a political purpose in asserting the importance of the issue, and succeeded in touching upon the very heart of the situation: uncertainty and discussion – some say speculation – about the causes of the current crisis and their relative importance.
João Bernardo Vieira, President of Guinea Bissau, stressed the need to increase investment in agriculture, especially in Africa.

Absalom Themba Dlamini,Prime Minister of Swaziland, drew attention to the linkages between climate change and the food crisis.
Gabriel Ntisezerana,Vice President of Burundi, underscored that bioenergy should not threaten food security.

Maria Madalena De Brito Neves, Minister of Environment and Agriculture of Cape Verde
Bethuel Pakalitha Mosisili,Prime Minister, Lesotho
Sayyadi Abba Ruma, Minister of Agriculture and Water Resources of Nigeria
Representative of Sudan