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Statement by Gilbert F. Houngbo, President of IFAD, on the occasion of the Launch of the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (SOFI)

Location: FAO HQ, Rome, Italy

Thank you to José Graziano da Silva and David Beasley for their remarks.

Let me complement by pointing out: firstly, regarding the 44 countries where the situation has worsened, it is interesting to know that they include 17 upper middle-income countries, 12 low-income countries, large-population countries and small island developing states.

What does that tell us? Clearly that the threat of hunger can appear anywhere, and that action needs to be stepped up in a range of contexts.

It also says that the simple fact of pursuing economic growth is not necessarily a guarantee against hunger. So we really need to be aware that the conditions that create hunger are clearly linked to weak policy, poor governance and the lack of sustained commitment in support of national and global food security policies and actions.

For us, this SOFI report should serve as a strong signal of the need for more investment: to strengthen food security and nutrition, to strengthen resilience to climate change, and obviously to strengthen the productivity of agriculture, particularly in low-income countries and in countries experiencing conflicts and fragility.

Certainly, humanitarian relief is needed.

Let’s us make no mistake, however. Only sustained long-term investments will provide the necessary answer we are looking for.

I know all of us from the international community, and from the national governments, are somehow disappointed to see that the numbers are going in the wrong direction. So my point is: it is certainly a matter of much more resources. But it is not only a matter of resources. We also need to make sure that we start working on the nexus between humanitarian and development action at the earliest stage--instead of de facto waiting for the humanitarian crisis to end before we start stepping up the long-term development.

I would like to also point out that the need for investment is most acute in rural areas. The report indicates that 56 per cent of people affected by conflict live in rural areas.

Let me remind you that hunger goes hand-in-hand with poverty, and that 80 per cent of the world’s poorest people – and most of the undernourished –are in rural areas.

If we want to combat hunger and reverse the tide, we must commit to a longer horizon so that our efforts are able to build resilience and improve nutrition, especially in the rural setting.

That requires certainly a new paradigm of development –a new definition of cooperation, collaboration and global long-term commitment.

Ladies and gentlemen, we need to cooperate more, we need to have much more partnership, we need to have much more national ownership, better governance. But all of that being said, we have got to scale up, we have got to scale up our efforts.

It is time for the global development community despite the pressure on ODA, despite the pressure from security issues, to realize that we cannot stop hunger if we do not scale up our activities.

Let me end by echoing what David just said. As much as we are concerned, I believe not only the Rome based agencies, but also the rest of the UN and the IFIs, are determined to contribute as we can and make all efforts necessary to ensure that the next report provides a better outcome.

I thank you.