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World Summit On Food Security Wraps Up

The U.N. World Summit on Food Security ended Wednesday in Rome with Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) head Jacques Diouf calling for the global community to shift the fight against global hunger from “words to action,” Agence France-Press reports. Diouf said, “We must do this to have a more prosperous world, fairer, more equitable and more peaceful. But above all we must do this fast: the poor and starving can not wait” (11/18).

The Associated Press reports that “a loud chorus of critics … questioned the value of the summit’s outcome,” including Oxfam, which “denounced the gathering as a ‘lackluster’ effort that wound up offering what it called ‘crumbs’ for the world’s hungry, estimated at one of every six people on Earth.” Oxfam spokpesrson Gawain Kripke said, “A single meeting can’t solve world hunger, but we certainly expected far more than this” (D’Emilio, 11/18).

According to the Vancouver Sun, the “final declaration, adopted on the first day of the three-day event, promises no new financial commitments, but says governments will ‘reinforce’ efforts to meet the goal they set at the U.N.’s 2000 Millennium Summit to halve the number of hungry people by 2015. The summit also endorsed a strategy shift to place emphasis on achieving self-sufficiency in food production in developing countries, and said the U.N.’s Committee for World Food Security should play a greater co-ordination role in aid spending” (Edwards, 11/18).

“African ministers said world leaders are not doing enough to reduce soaring hunger levels on the continent,” VOA News reports. Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was the only G8 leader to attend the summit, which Kenyan Minister Adam Barre Duale said “points to the lack of global initiative, global unity in the fight against hunger in the world.” Duale continued, “We need both the developed world and the developing countries to come together and to give and support a global initiative in the war against hunger” (Hennessy, 11/18).

Diouf also commented on the leaders’ absence, “If we don’t have the leaders with authority over all the dossiers, who can coordinate the action … we sidestep the problem, we reduce the issue to its purely technical dimension,” AFP reports in a second story (11/18). According to Reuters, “[l]ess than a third of the 192 heads of states and governments invited by the FAO showed up, with many countries sending their agriculture ministers instead” (Aloisi, 11/18).  

In related coverage, IRIN News examines recent reports from the World Bank and Medecins Sans Frontieres about global food aid (11/18).