IFAD Asset Request Portlet

Agrégateur de contenus

Statement by Mr. Jacques Diouf, Director-General, FAO delivered by Mr. Jim Butler, Deputy Director-General

Delivered by Mr. Jim Butler, Deputy Director-General

Mr President,
Distinguished Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a real pleasure to be with you this morning and address this great gathering.

For over 30 years now, IFAD has been a key bulwark in the battle to eradicate rural poverty and hunger, and I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate IFAD on its impressive achievements in pursuit of its mission. This has been amply recognized and generously rewarded by IFAD's member countries through the recent Eighth Replenishment of the Fund's resources, with their backing of a three year, USD 3 billion programme, including USD 1.2 billion in new contributions. Taking into consideration the world financial crisis, this is a remarkable achievement.

2008 was an extraordinarily challenging year for developing countries. The triple ‘food, fuel and financial' crisis threatens global food and nutrition security and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and poses a broad range of challenges – humanitarian, human rights, socio-economic, environmental, developmental, political and peace and security-related challenges. The crisis has, in 2007 and 2008, thrown an additional 115 million of the world's most vulnerable people into chronic hunger, bringing the number of hungry people in the world to almost one billion, and reversing progress towards achieving the internationally-agreed hunger reduction goals.

IFAD, FAO and WFP have been in the vanguard of the international development community effort to redress the impact of this crisis, notably through the High-Level Task Force on the Global Food Security Crisis (HLTF). The HLTF, for which a Rome hub for its Coordination Secretariat is now hosted by IFAD, has coordinated the efforts of the UN system in addressing the global crisis including facilitating the development of a strategy and a prioritized plan of action, namely the Comprehensive Framework for Action. The recently approved EUR 1 billion EU Food Facility is a testament to the HLTF's capacity and commitment to this role. FAO, IFAD and WFP also contributed to the success of last month's High-Level Meeting on Food Security for All held in Madrid. The Madrid Meeting constituted a further step in affirming the political will needed to foster coherent, effective and durable action for the food security of our generation and  those of our children. It called for improved partnerships and advocated for a leap in resource mobilization to tackle the present unacceptable situation of food insecurity in the world. Prime Minister Zapatero signalled the way by pledging €1 billion or $1.3 billion to help fight hunger over the next five years and that on his watch the government would reach its commitment to allocate 0.7% of GDP to development assistance.  

This outcome typifies the extensive and effective cooperation among the UN Rome-based agencies, soon to be strengthened through a Joint Strategy Paper on Collaboration. I am pleased to report that, based on our shared objectives and respective comparative advantages, we are increasingly finding effective ways and means to collaborate in normative activities and across such areas as investment planning, harmonization of data collection, vulnerability mapping and disaster risk management. In the future, I look forward to strengthened collaboration in the field, including common country programming instruments, with a view to improving consistency and compatibility with national development priorities and ensuring greater national ownership in line with the principles of the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness and the Accra Agenda for Action.

Mr Chairperson, the Comprehensive Framework for Action is a valuable contribution to our concerted action to improving food security, which is gaining momentum both within and beyond the UN system. It will act as a catalyst for intervention by providing governments, international and regional agencies and organizations, and civil society groups, a menu of policies and actions from which to draw appropriate responses.

In their rapid response to the food crisis, the UN Rome-based agencies have raised awareness, mobilized resources and provided urgent and targeted food and nutrition assistance, seeds and fertilizers and other agricultural inputs and financing, and have supported the scaling up of safety nets such as school feeding and food for work programmes in many of the most vulnerable countries and communities. In line with the CFA agreed "twin track approach," plans are now being put in place for sustaining and intensifying these responses, combining actions with a view to achieving longer-term and sustainable food security. But more is needed in terms of resources to implement these plans and prevent a further deterioration of the food and nutrition situation in countries where coping capacities are challenged.

To avoid further deterioration in hunger and human suffering and future threats to social stability, the resources needed to fulfil the commitments to the world's most vulnerable people and meet the MDGs, in particular MDG-1, should be made available. Also, the current international system which has resulted in increased hunger and poverty needs to be revisited. A consolidated and sustained global partnership is required to bring together governments, multilateral and regional institutions, private sector, civil society and non-governmental organization actors to act coherently and collaboratively in the fight against hunger and poverty. Nothing less than a ‘new world food order' is called for.

Mr Chairperson, I would like to focus on this concept of a ‘new world food order'.

Recently, several forums, including the High-Level Conference on World Food Security held last June in FAO, the G8 Summit in July in Japan and the Special Session of the FAO Conference last November, called for strengthening the governance of world food security. The proposals concern in particular the establishment of an international Group of High-Level Experts on food and agriculture, with the mandate to conduct scientific analyses, and a Global Partnership to enhance dialogue with all partners and thus facilitate coordination and implementation of action plans.

The Global Partnership on Food and Agriculture would need to follow multiple tracks, including ensuring high-level ministerial communications to maintain political commitment; maintaining a donor policy dialogue with a view to aid improved alignment, coordination and predictability; building a field level policy dialogue among national governments, local donors, CSOs and the private sector; and ensuring better policies and strategies for agriculture and food security. At regional and country levels, the Global Partnership would monitor outcomes, disseminate lessons learned, help build South-South linkages, support policy coherence and identify and address financing gaps. The debate on the establishment of the Partnership should be open and the process should be inclusive of all stakeholders.

The High-Level Expert Group would provide a synthesis of scientific knowledge to decision-makers dealing with food security and also regular and reliable information on the current and long-term situations of world food security, based on a scientific consensus at the highest level. It would need to develop strong relations with international academic and research institutions as well as eminent experts in the field from all over the world.

I would like to note that the UN Rome-based agencies are fundamental repositories of data, information and analysis at all levels on food security and agriculture. IFAD, with over 30 years of investment and work experience with small farmers and rural communities, has gained strong knowledge and expertise in innovative approaches for agricultural development and poverty reduction. FAO is a respected knowledge organization and centre of excellence across the full spectrum of agriculture and rural development disciplines. The World Food Programme's Emergency Food Security Assessment reports form the basis for world humanitarian response to food emergencies. Collectively, IFAD, WFP and FAO also have a vast multidisciplinary field presence, such as the Food Security Theme Groups (FSTG), at country level.

FAO's Committee on World Food Security (CFS), established following the World Food Conference of 1974, provides a forum in the United Nations system for the review and follow-up of policies and programmes concerning world food security. In this process it examines major problems and issues affecting the world food situation, monitors stakeholder actions and proposes necessary steps to promote the goal of world food security. The CFS is open to all UN and FAO Members, and involves representatives of other international agencies, NGOs, civil society and the private sector. As such it provides a neutral forum with a universal character.

The International Alliance Against Hunger (IAAH) brings together key UN and civil society players at international level to work jointly on hunger and malnutrition issues at global and country levels. Its principal functions are joint advocacy, networking/support for national programmes, and reporting to the CFS on progress made towards World Food Summit and MDG targets. The IAAH is supported at national level through National Alliances Against Hunger (NAAHs), now established in 18 developing countries and 5 OECD countries with an additional 25 NAAHs under development. The Heads of the UN Rome-based Agencies have jointly confirmed their support to strengthening the IAAH. I would like to take this opportunity, therefore, to make a call for expanding the membership of the IAAH and strengthening its global work, notably by developing the advocacy capacities of National Alliances against Hunger. 

The IFAD sponsored Farmers' Forum, which meets every two years for a global consultation following consultations at the national and regional levels, is a bottom-up process of discussion and dialogue between small farmers and rural producers'organizations, IFAD and governments, that is focused on rural development and poverty reduction. Fully aligned with IFAD's strategic objectives, the Forum is rooted in concrete partnership and collaboration at the country and regional levels.

Mr Chairperson,
Mr President,
Distinguished Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

The world is significantly behind schedule in achieving the World Food Summit and MDG targets of reducing hunger by half by 2015. One in seven persons is undernourished, suffering from either chronic or acute hunger – it is certainly an unbearable situation. The strategies, programmes and plans to overcome hunger and ensure food security for all do exist. We know what to do, but we lack the means and the right setting to do the work. In brief, a new system of world food security must be established. During the course of 2009, I expect the UN Rome-based agencies to lead the building of a roadmap to achieve a large and broad consensus on the rapid and final elimination of hunger from our planet.

Mr President, let me conclude by acknowledging your achievements during your two terms as President of IFAD. Over this period, IFAD, like FAO now, has undertaken a massive programme of reform leading to the adoption of the 2007-2010 IFAD Strategic Framework, a greatly enhanced project design and quality control system and a Corporate Planning and Performance Management System to measure and report results. You have also been a key player on the international stage. As Chair of the High-Level Committee on Policies (HLCP) of the United Nations System Chief Executives Board (CEB), you have been instrumental in providing both inspiration and momentum to policy formulation and coherence on UN system-wide issues. I would like to take this opportunity to specifically acknowledge the important role you played in enhancing the involvement of agencies in the formulation of strategic planning, policy and programme development and implementation, and on other areas that require priority attention in response to the challenges facing the UN system and the global community. Finally, I wish to acknowledge the remarkable pro-poor development achievements of IFAD under your leadership, especially in such areas as women and indigenous people's empowerment, small scale irrigation, microfinance service delivery and agricultural knowledge development, just to mention a few. While you will leave us, I hope we can count on your support in the years to come.

Distinguished Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I wish you a successful Council.

Thank you.

Rome, 18 February 2009