Madrid meeting 26-27 January to chart action on the continuing global food crisis

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Madrid meeting 26-27 January to chart action on the continuing global food crisis

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UN Secretary-General Ban, Prime Minister Zapatero, agency heads, nationalministers and experts plan for "Food Security for All"

Major players in the global campaign to meet emergency food needs, reinvigorate agricultural systems and increase investment in agriculture will convene at a ministerial-level meeting on "Food Security for All," chaired by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Spanish Prime Minister Rodriguez Zapatero.

"The worldwide economic crash did not put an end to the food crisis; instead, it complicates and exacerbates the situation," said David Nabarro, coordinator of the Secretary-General's task force on the global food security crisis, in advance of the Madrid meeting. "Price volatility and a global credit crunch are discouraging new plantings and new investment, while food prices in many poor countries remain at historically high levels."

The number of the undernourished in the world rose in 2008 to 963 million, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), undercutting progress on the first Millennium Development Goal of eradicating hunger and poverty.

UN officials and representatives of international agencies belonging to the High-level Task Force on Global Food Security Crisis will be at the 26-27 January meeting, which opens with technical discussions and concludes with a ministerial session. Expected to attend are FAO Director-General and Task Force vice-chairman Jacques Diouf; International Fund for Agricultural Development President Lennart Båge; World Food Programme Executive Director Josette Sheeran; and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Managing Director of the World Bank Group.

The High-level Meeting of Food Security for All is hosted and organized by the Spanish Government.  It follows through on the June 2008 "food summit" in Rome. In the 5 June Rome Declaration, 181 States and the European Community pledged to alleviate the suffering caused by soaring food prices, to stimulate agricultural development and small holder farmer production, and to address obstacles to food access and adequate nutrition.

The task force on global food security is chaired by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who established the inter-agency effort on 28 April 2008.

The January 2009 agenda includes an assessment of progress since the Rome food summit, and discussion of priorities and commitments for moving ahead.

Progress is also expected in Madrid in setting a framework for a global partnership for food security, bringing together governments, regional bodes, civil society, businesses, international agencies, development banks and donors. The intent to establish this partnership was formally announced at the 2008 G8 summit in Toyaka, and the effort has been supported by the Japanese government.

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