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Minister to lead delegation to FAO meeting

29 May 2008 Media Statement

Minister to lead delegation to FAO meeting

New Zealand has an important contribution to make to next week's multinational summit on food security, Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Jim Anderton said today.

The United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organisation is hosting a 3 day High Level Conference on World Food Security in Rome from 3 to 5 June. The FAO is billing the conference as "a historic chance to re-launch the fight against hunger and poverty and boost agricultural production in developing countries."

Around 2500 attendees are expected at the Conference including between 40-60 Heads of State or Government, 127 Ministers, 600 media as well as UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and 200 representatives of UN agencies.

New Zealand is to have an 11-member delegation at the summit meeting, led by Jim Anderton. It includes Green MP Sue Kedgley, who is personally paying her own costs, and NIWA principal climate scientist Jim Salinger and Fisheries Ministry chief executive Wayne McNee.

Jim Anderton has been nominated as a Vice-Chair of the Conference to represent the South West Pacific region and will co-chair, along with India's Minister of Agriculture, a roundtable on transboundary pests and diseases.

He said that as a major food exporter with world-class expertise in agricultural production, New Zealand has an important role and strategic interests in the issue of global food security.

"The Labour-Progressive Government believes we have a humanitarian obligation to assist the developing world in meeting the food security challenge and we will be pledging our support for this next week."

The conference will have a major focus on the intersection between food supply and climate change and biofuels.

"The variable weather that results from climate change poses huge new challenges to food security, and as an agricultural producer New Zealand has a strong interest in the global community taking action to reduce climate change. It is also important that action on climate change supports sustainable food production and New Zealand will be advocating for this at every opportunity.

"The pressure of growing populations, and the increasing affluence of consumers in emerging economies, will place ever greater strain on the sustainability of global food production.

"New Zealand believes that unsustainable food production to meet short-term food needs is ultimately futile as it is creating a 'debt' with the planet that can never be paid back. The challenges for humanity on these issues are enormous and the global community is going to have to work together very closely to ensure the world's food needs can be met without the biological systems upon which we depend breaking down."

Jim Anderton said we needed a global trading system that does not distort production and create barriers to getting food efficiently from the farms of the world to the mouths that most need it.

"We also need the very best science and technology to be made available to farmers the world over and New Zealand will be contributing to international efforts to share the very best in agricultural 'know how'.

Jim Anderton will also have bilateral meetings with ministers from a range of New Zealand's trading partners in the margins of the FAO summit.

On route to Rome, Jim Anderton will also meet formally with the Malaysian Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities, Datuk Peter Chin Fah Kui, on the issue of illegal loggin. Malaysia is an important regional player in forestry and has developed mechanisms to verify the legality of timber exports.

He leaves New Zealand tomorrow and returns on Sunday June 8.


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