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World "Cannot Afford To Fail" On Food - British PM

World "cannot afford to fail" on food - PM

Developed countries and international agencies must take "immediate action" to tackle rising food costs, the PM has said.

In a joint article with Spanish PM Jose Luis Zapatero, Gordon Brown said that today's High Level UN Conference on food taking place in Rome should act as the start of a "co-ordinated and integrated" response to the global food crisis. Quoting the World Bank, the PM said that recent success in reducing world poverty "could be jeopardised".

Writing in Spain's ABC newspaper, the PM and Prime Minister Zapatero said:

"850 million children and adults around the world are today suffering from hunger, and 9,000 children under the age of five years die every day due to malnutrition-related illnesses. 100 million people may have been pushed into poverty due to the doubling of food prices over the last three years...

"We need to join efforts in these coming months to ensure that by the United Nations Millennium Development Goals Summit on 25 September, the international community has agreed a coordinated approach to handling this crisis. We will redouble our collective effort. We cannot afford to fail."

Among the measures that can be taken, the two leaders highlighted the promotion of investment to increase agricultural productivity, a rapid conclusion to the Doha round of trade talks and a new assessment of biofuel production policies.

Speaking at a press conference in Downing Street yesterday, Mr Brown said that the rising cost of food and oil will be at the top of the agenda at the G8 summit in Japan this July.


***

FULL ARTICLE:

FEEDING THE WORLD'S POPULATION - WE CANNOT AFFORD TO FAIL

Transcript of a joint article with the Spanish PM José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, regarding the Conference on World Food Security held in Rome.

Joint article, Gordon Brown with the Spanish PM José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, 3 June 2008

850 million children and adults around the world are today suffering from hunger, and 9,000 children under the age of five years die every day due to malnutrition-related illnesses. 100 million people may have been pushed into poverty due to the doubling of food prices over the last three years. The fact that food prices have reached record levels can only worsen these already devastating figures. For the poorest quarter of the global population, three quarters of their income is now taken up by the costs of food. According to the World Bank, the success in reducing world poverty during the last seven years could be jeopardised.

Immediate action is essential. The High-Level Conference on World Food Security taking place in Rome today should be the start of a co-ordinated and integrated international response to overcome the global food crisis. This is a global challenge that requires urgent and coordinated international action from all actors involved.

We therefore applaud Ban Ki Moon's initiative to establish a UN Task Force on the Global Food Crisis. This will bring together the heads of the specialised agencies and the Bretton Woods institutions into an effective and coordinated mechanism. We welcome the global response to the World Food Programme's emergency appeal for $755 million and the World Bank's $1.2 billion Fast-Track Facility to address the immediate needs in the world's poorest countries.

We also need to develop emergency safety nets and social protection programmes targeted at those most in need, particularly focused on early child nutrition, in order to ensure household food security and sustainable livelihoods. We welcome the emergency initiative of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization to provide low-income deficit countries with the seeds and inputs to boost production.

We need to promote further investments in agriculture to increase productive capacity, including strengthened regional agricultural policies for the countries most in need, and ensure greater access to local, regional and international markets.

In order to increase market openness, we call on the international community to draw to a rapid conclusion the Doha round of the World Trade Organization negotiations. Implementing an aid for trade package should be a valuable complement to improve trading capacity for developing countries. In this sense, the EU has already agreed to remove import tariffs for products from all of the world's 49 poorest states.

We encourage countries to avoid the temptation of implementing trade-restricting policies such as export bans. In the short term they may provide some relief to domestic consumers and producers, but in the long term it will only worsen the situation of those hardest hit by the crisis.

Biofuels can potentially play an important role in tackling climate change. However, we need to ensure that biofuel production policies are consistent with global food security, sustainable development and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.

To provide the necessary longer term context to underpin stable food prices, we urge the international community to sign up to clear goals for sustainable agricultural supply by increasing agricultural production in Africa and promoting investment in agricultural research and development directed to poor smallholders farmers.

This will require joint action to support a global agriculture initiative to link country agriculture plans and processes to increased and more effective finance for agriculture and rural development. This must get behind country-led processes and institutions, with sustainable, results-based country plans that address policy needs and which are subject to peer review.

We need to join efforts in these coming months to ensure that by the United Nations Millennium Development Goals Summit on 25 September, the international community has agreed a coordinated approach to handling this crisis. We will redouble our collective effort. We cannot afford to fail.

ENDS

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