King and Queen of Sweden meet heads of FAO, IFAD and WFP

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King and Queen of Sweden meet heads of FAO, IFAD and WFP

Food prices, climate change and financial crisis at the centre of talks

26 March 2009, Rome – The King and the Queen of Sweden have met the heads of the three Rome-based UN organizations today to discuss the global food security situation, the impact of climate change on agriculture and the effects of the financial crisis on food prices.

During their official visit to Italy, King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia met with Jacques Diouf, Director-General of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Lennart Båge, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and Josette Sheeran, Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP).

The King and the Queen were accompanied by the Carl Bildt, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Lars Leijonborg, Minister for Higher Education and Research.

"Sweden is one of FAO's key donors and has supported the fight against hunger and undernourishment over many years," said FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf. "Thanks to Sweden's generous assistance to FAO of US$ 41.4 million in 2008, millions of farmers that were hit by disasters have been able to resume farming. Reducing the current number of 963 million hungry people, feeding a world population that will reach 9 billion in 2050 and at the same time safeguarding natural resources and eco-systems that are threatened by climate change are the challenges we are facing and for which we need Sweden's continuous support," Diouf added. Sweden's total extra-budgetary contributions to FAO in 2007 amounted to US$ 35.9 million.    

"Sweden has been a crucial ally of IFAD and above all for the poor farmers IFAD assists. The country's strong support to the recent replenishment of IFAD's resources will enable the Fund to considerably expand its work to reduce poverty and hunger in developing countries. Indeed, we can anticipate a programme of work between 2010-2012 of about US$ 3 billion - with co-financing expected to bring total investments to US$ 7.5 billion," said IFAD President Lennart Båge.

"Sweden - a first-class donor - provides generous and flexible contributions to assist the hungry, and is a tireless advocate for the poorest and most vulnerable, especially now in the midst of the world economic crisis," said WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran, adding that Sweden was increasing its donations to WFP this year by 22 percent to US$ 59.4 million from US$ 46.6 in 2008.

The meeting took place at FAO headquarters.

IFAD was created 30 years ago to tackle rural poverty, a key consequence of the droughts and famines of the early 1970s. Since 1978, IFAD has invested more than US$10.6 billion in low-interest loans and grants that have helped approximately 350  million very poor rural women and men increase their incomes and provide for their families. IFAD is an international financial institution and a specialized United Nations agency. It is a global partnership of OECD, OPEC and other developing countries. Today, IFAD supports close to 250 programmes and projects in 87 developing countries and one territory.

Press release No.: IFAD/16/09