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Declaration on World Food Security

WE, the Heads of State and Government, Ministers and Representatives of 181 countries and the European Community, have met in Rome at this High-Level Conference convened by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, together with the United Nations World Food Programme, the International Fund for Agricultural Development and Bioversity International on behalf of the CGIAR system, to seek ways of achieving world food security and, in this context, to address challenges of higher food prices, climate change and bioenergy.

1. We reaffirm the conclusions of the World Food Summit in 1996, which adopted the Rome Declaration on World Food Security and the World Food Summit Plan of Action, and the objective, confirmed by the World Food Summit: five years later, of achieving food security for all through an ongoing effort to eradicate hunger in all countries, with an immediate view to reducing by half the number of undernourished people by no later than 2015, as well as our commitment to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).We reiterate that food should not be used as an instrument for political and economic pressure. We also recall the Voluntary Guidelines to Support the Progressive Realization of the Right to Adequate Food in the Context of National Food Security. We reiterate that it is unacceptable that 862 million people are still undernourished in the world today.

2. We are here to address the challenges of bioenergy and climate change, and the current situation of soaring food prices that is having adverse impacts on food security, particularly in developing countries and countries in transition, all the more because the indications are that food prices will remain high in the years to come.

3. We are convinced that the international community needs to take urgent and coordinated action to combat the negative impacts of soaring food prices on the world’s most vulnerable countries and populations. We are further convinced that actions by national governments, with the support of the international community, are required in the short, medium-and long-term, to meet global and household food security needs. There is therefore an urgent need to help developing countries and countries in transition expand agriculture and food production, and to increase investment in agriculture, agribusiness and rural development, from both public and private sources.

In adopting this Declaration, we pledge to embrace food security as a matter of permanent national policy, renew our commitment to achieving the World Food Summit objectives and the Millennium Development Goals, and commit ourselves to the following measures.

Immediate and Short-Term Measures

4. The global food situation calls for a strong commitment from governments as well as from all other stakeholders. We call upon all donors and the United Nations System to increase their assistance for developing countries, in particular least developed countries and those that are most negatively affected by high food prices. In the immediate future it is essential to proceed along two main lines.

5. The first line of action is to respond urgently to requests for assistance from affected countries.

a) The relevant United Nations agencies should be assured the resources to expand and enhance their food assistance and support safety net programmes to address hunger and malnutrition, when appropriate, through the use of local or regional purchase.

b) The appropriate regional organizations which have emergency food security arrangements should enhance their cooperation with a view to effectively cope with soaring food prices.

c) All efforts by governmental and non-governmental organizations to strengthen immediate humanitarian and development assistance should be synergized with those of the multilateral organizations, and made coherent, to deal with the continuum from urgent to longer term assistance.

d) All national and international efforts should be made to ensure that international emergency food assistance is delivered as quickly and efficiently as possible to populations in distress.

e) To facilitate adjustment to higher food prices, donors and international financial institutions, in accordance with their mandates and in consultation with recipient countries, should provide in a timely manner, balance of payments support and /or budget support to food-importing, low-income countries. Other measures should be considered as necessary to improve the financial situation of the countries in need, including reviewing debt servicing as necessary. We also call on the relevant international institutions to simplify the eligibility procedures of existing financial mechanisms to support agriculture and environment.

6. The second line of action is immediate support for agricultural production and trade.

a) All relevant organizations and cooperating countries should be prepared to assist countries, on their request, to put in place the revised policies and measures to help farmers, particularly small-scale producers, increase production and integrate with local, regional, and international markets. South-south cooperation must be encouraged.

b) Development partners are invited to participate in and contribute to international and regional initiatives on soaring food prices and, in particular, under the FAO initiative launched on 17 December 2007, in support of country-led measures to give farmers in low-income food-deficit and the most affected countries access to appropriate locally adapted seeds, fertilizers, animal feed and other inputs, as well as technical assistance, in order to increase agricultural production.

c) Development partners are called upon to undertake initiatives to moderate unusual fluctuations in the food grain prices. In particular, we call on relevant institutions to assist countries in developing their food stock capacities and consider other measures to strengthen food security risk management for affected countries.

d) Members of WTO reaffirm their commitment to the rapid and successful conclusion of the WTO Doha Development Agenda and reiterate their willingness to reach comprehensive and ambitious results that would be conducive to improving food security in developing countries. Implementing an aid for trade package should be a valuable complement to the Doha Development Agenda to build and improve the trading capacity of the developing countries.

e) We will strive to ensure that food, agricultural trade and overall trade policies are conducive to fostering food security for all. For this purpose we reaffirm the need to minimise the use of restrictive measures that could increase volatility of international prices.

Medium and Long-Term Measures

7. The current crisis has highlighted the fragility of the world’s food systems and their vulnerability to shocks. While there is an urgent need to address the consequences of soaring food prices, it is also vital to combine medium and long-term measures, such as the following:

a) We urge national governments, all financial institutions, donors and the entire international community to fully embrace a people-centred policy framework supportive of the poor in rural, peri-urban and urban areas and people’s livelihoods in developing countries, and to increase investment in agriculture.

b) It is essential to address the fundamental question of how to increase the resilience of present food production systems to challenges posed by climate change. In this context, maintaining biodiversity is key to sustaining future production performance. We urge governments to assign appropriate priority to the agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors, in order to create opportunities to enable the world’s smallholder farmers and fishers, including indigenous people, in particular in vulnerable areas, to participate in, and benefit from financial mechanisms and investment flows to support climate change adaptation, mitigation and technology development, transfer and dissemination. We support the establishment of agriculture systems and the sustainable forest management practices that positively contribute to the mitigation of climate change and ecological balance.

c) In addition, we reaffirm the Mauritius Strategy for the sustainable development of small island developing states and call for its implementation in the context of the challenges of climate change and food security.

d) We urge the international community, including the private sector, to decisively step up investment in science and technology for food and agriculture. Increased efforts in international cooperation should be directed to researching, developing, applying, transferring and disseminating improved technologies and policy approaches. We urge member states, to establish in accordance with the Monterrey Consensus, governance and policy environments which will facilitate investment in improved agricultural technologies.

e) We encourage the international community to continue its efforts in liberalizing international trade in agriculture by reducing trade barriers and market distorting policies. Addressing these measures will give farmers, particularly in developing countries, new opportunities to sell their products on world markets and support their efforts to increase productivity and production.

f) It is essential to address the challenges and opportunities posed by biofuels, in view of the world’s food security, energy and sustainable development needs. We are convinced that in-depth studies are necessary to ensure that production and use of biofuels is sustainable in accordance with the three pillars of sustainable development and takes into account the need to achieve and maintain global food security. We are further convinced of the desirability of exchanging experiences on biofuels technologies, norms and regulations. We call upon relevant intergovernmental organizations, including FAO, within their mandates and areas of expertise, with the involvement of national governments, partnerships, the private sector, and civil society, to foster a coherent, effective and results-oriented international dialogue on biofuels in the context of food security and sustainable development needs.

Monitoring and Review

8. We request the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, in close partnership with WFP and IFAD and other relevant international organizations, including those participating in the High-Level Task Force on the Global Food Crisis and in collaboration with governments, civil society and the private sector, to monitor and analyse world food security in all its dimensions -including those addressed by this Conference -and to develop strategies to improve it.

9. In realizing the contents of the measures above, we stress the importance of the effective and efficient use of the resources of the United Nations system, and other relevant international organizations.

We firmly resolve to use all means to alleviate the suffering caused by the current crisis, to stimulate food production and to increase investment in agriculture, to address obstacles to food access and to use the planet’s resources sustainably, for present and future generations.

We commit to eliminating hunger and to securing food for all today and tomorrow.

Rome, 5 June 2008

This Declaration was adopted by the High-Level Conference on World Food Security: the Challenges of Climate Change and Bioenergy, on 5 June 2008. On the adoption of the Declaration, statements were made by Argentina, Cuba and Venezuela, which will be included in the Report of the High-Level Conference.

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