Press Releases

Note to Correspondents

Note No 194
6 June 2002

WORLD FOOD SUMMIT – WHAT HAS BEEN ACHIEVED
FIVE YEARS LATER?

Rome, 10 – 13 June 2002

VIENNA, 6 June (UN Information Service) -- From 10 to 13 June 2002, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) will host a global meeting of world leaders to review progress towards ending hunger. The "World Food Summit: five years later", will consider the progress achieved since the 1996 World Food Summit and will concentrate on ways and means to accelerate the process. The food summit +5 was to be held in 2001, but was postponed after the terrorist events of 11 September.

During the World Food Summit more than five years ago, Heads of State or Government and other high-level representatives from 185 countries had pledged their political will and their commitment "to achieving food security for all and to an on-going effort to eradicate hunger in all countries, with an immediate view to reducing the number of undernourished people to half their present level no later than 2015." The World Food Summit: five years later will aim for a reaffirmation of commitment to the Rome Declaration on World Food Security and the World Food Summit Plan of Action, the two documents adopted at the Summit.

FAO's latest assessment of the global food security situation is a stark reminder of the slow progress towards the reduction of hunger. During the 1990s, the reduction in the number of undernourished was only 6 million people a year on average, compared to a level of 22 million a year that would be needed to meet the World Food Summit target, according to the latest issue of FAO's report on State of Food Insecurity in the World (SOFI 2001).

It is therefore all the more crucial that countries take measures to accelerate the pace of change. Only through the direct involvement of decision-makers will it be possible to mobilise the necessary political will and ensure that vital decisions are taken by leaders in a position to influence policy at every level.

Regarding the outcome of the Summit, the FAO Council had established an Open-ended Working Group to consider the substance and format of a final document - a draft proposal for which had been submitted by the chairpersons of the Working Group to the FAO Council at its 120th Session in June 2001. The negotiated outcome, which is expected to be a declaration of recommitment to the World Food Summit goals and to the actions that are required to achieve them, would represent the principal outcome of the Summit.

Jacques Diouf, FAO Director-General suggested in this regard four major thoughts to be considered by decision-makers:

  • First, there is a moral obligation on each of us to see that all our fellow humans enjoy their right to adequate food.
  • Second, hunger is as much a cause as an effect of poverty.
  • Third, getting rid of hunger is, therefore, an essential first step in the quest for poverty alleviation and sustainable economic growth.
  • Fourth, widespread hunger can only breed hopelessness, desperation, conflict, which knows no boundaries: it is in everyone’s self-interest to banish hunger from the world.

In brief, the objectives of the World Food Summit – five years later are therefore to:

  • Review advances made since the 1996 World Food Summit

  • Outline the measures leaders envisage to reach the goals

  • Mobilize political will and resources to move forward at an accelerated pace

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