Rome Food Security Summit

Summit ends with call for more aid

By Jess Halliday

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: United nations

The FAO food security summit concluded with a declaration
calling for the international community to step up
assistance to developing countries, but no decision is reached on
biofuels policy.

The Rome Food Security Summit, hosted by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), took place over three days this week, and was attended by 181 nations and more than 40 heads of state and governments. The final declaration said there is an "urgent need"​ to assist developing countries to expand food production and invest more in agriculture, agribusiness and rural development. Speaking at the event on Tuesday, UN secretary general Ban Ki-Moon said that the root of the current food crisis is a need to provide more food. He said that food production needs to rise by 50 per cent by 2030, in order to meet rising demand. The focus is very much on aid to farmers in developing countries, yet Jacques Diouf, director general of the FAO, stressed in his opening address that the crisis touches developed nations too. If sustainable and viable global solutions are not forthcoming to narrow the gap between supply and demand, "whatever the extent of their financial reserves, some countries might not find food to buy",​ he said. Call for aid ​ The declaration asks donors and financial institutions to provide "balance of payments support and/or budget support to food-importing low-income countries".​ They may also need to review debt servicing of countries in need. 'Development partners' are asked to help countries put in place revised policies and measures to help farmers - especially those who operate on a small scale - to up production and integrate with local, regional and international market. It called on governments to assure UN agencies that they will have the resources to expand food assistance and support programmes to address hunger and malnutrition by means of local or regional purchases. Biofuels ​The declaration asks for initiative that "moderate unusual fluctuations"​ in food grain prices. However the issue of biofuels remains a thorny one, with gulfs of disagreement over whether reducing or eliminating first generation biofuels targets would have a reducing effect on food prices. The declaration said that the challenges and opportunities of biofuels need to be assessed in the context of food security, energy and sustainable development needs. As well as in-depth studies on sustainable production and use of biofuels, it would like to see an international dialogue on the subject that includes inter-governmental organisations like the FAO, national governments, partnerships, the private sector and civil society. WTO members are said to have reaffirmed their commitment to concluding the Doha round of trade talks, with view to liberalising international trade by reducing trade barriers and policies that distort markets. Early pledges ​As of yesterday evening, a number of countries and organisations had already made pledges of financing to help alleviate the crisis. These include:

  • $1bn from the African development bank

  • $1.5bn over five years from France

  • $150m from Japan

  • $1.5bn over five years from the Islamic Development Bank

  • $100m from Kuwait

  • $75m from The Netherlands

  • $7.5m from New Zealand

  • $773m over five years from Spain

  • $590m from the UK

  • $100m from Venezuela

  • $100m from UN CERF

  • $1.2bn from the World Bank

The FAO said that other countries have said they will increase their financing levels, but have not indicated by how much. Follow-up summit ​ It is likely that a follow-up summit could take place in Spain in the autumn, following an offer to host such as event by Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rogriguez Zapatero.

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