G8 Summit Begins Wednesday; WFP Calls For ‘Twin-Track’ Approach To Food Security

The G8 summit is scheduled to open Wednesday in L’Aquila, Italy. The World Food Program (WFP) on Tuesday issued a statement praising the G8 leaders’ focus on food security and calling for support of its efforts to combat hunger among the world’s poorest people, Xinhua reports. In the statement, WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran recommended leaders take a “twin-track” approach to food security, which includes supporting long-term agricultural production along with 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,” Sheeran said. Recently, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) projected the number of hungry people would top 1.02 billion, which reverses a four-decade trend of reduction in the number of hungry people, according to the WFP. Xinhua writes that WFP “depends entirely on voluntary donations, and has raised less than one quarter” of its 2009 budget of $6.4 billion (7/7).

Says It’s On Track To Raise Foreign Aid In Line With U.N. Target

“Britain vowed on Monday not to cut foreign aid despite the economic crisis and said it would press Italy and other rich countries to do the same at a G8 summit this week,” Reuters reports. Britain is on track to raise foreign aid to the U.N. target of 0.7 percent of gross national income by 2013, International Development Secretary Douglas Alexander said, adding that other countries are behind on their promises. “We will be looking to create the opportunity for countries which are off-track to make commitments that will bring them back on track,” Alexander said (Meares, 7/6).

According to Alexander, the G8 summit “is the time to publish a Gleneagles framework whereby the whole world will be able to judge … which countries have met their Gleneagles commitments and which countries have fallen behind.” The Guardian reports that at the G8, Britain plans to announce extra help for agriculture, as well as action to reduce maternal mortality. “In his white paper, Alexander promises to provide an emergency social safety net with help for 50 million of the poorest people by giving direct financial support, underwriting crop schemes, providing assets such as livestock or access to education and health to the poorest people. The aim is to build such social protection schemes in more than 20 countries over the next three years,” the newspaper writes (Wintour, 7/6).

In related news, Britain’s Department for International Development (DFID) is adopting a new logo, UKaid, which the government hopes will raise public awareness of its work abroad and help maintain support for aid during the economic downturn, the Telegraph reports. The House of Commons International Development Select Committee last month in a report recommended the organization change its name. The change to a new logo would increase awareness of DFID’s work among voters in the UK and aid recipients, the committee said (6/6).

Pope Calls For New Financial Order

Pope Benedict XVI on Tuesday released “Charity in Truth,” a document that has been in the works for two years, which calls “for a new world financial order guided by ethics, dignity and the search for the common good in the third encyclical of his pontificate,” the AP/Google.com reports (7/7).

On Saturday, Benedict sent Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi a letter, which says former Pope John Paul II “was convinced that freeing the poorest countries from the burden of debt and, more generally, eradicating the causes of extreme poverty in the world, depended on the most economically advanced governments… fully assuming the responsibility they bear towards all humanity,” the Examiner reports (Hale, 7/6).

In the letter, Benedict asks G8 leaders to “listen to the voice of Africa and of the countries that are less developed economically,” AP/Google.com writes (David, 7/5).

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