Motlanthe urges leaders to walk the talk

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Pretoria - Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe has called on the Heads of State attending the World Food Summit in Rome to act decisively to address food security challenges facing the world.

The summit has been organised by the United Nation's (UN) Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

Motlanthe noted that in spite of summits such as this one, the FAO State of Food Insecurity in the World Report estimated that the number of hungry people had increased to the unprecedented levels of 1 billion in 2009.

"The figure is expected to increase further should there be no decisive actions to reverse the trend within the context of meeting the 2015 Millennium Development Goals (MDG's) targets," said Motlanthe.

Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is the only G8 leader attending the summit.

The summit comes in the wake of the recent G20 Meeting where leaders made a commitment to, among others, promote employment through structural policies, work to address excessive commodity price volatility and financial markets and promoting a closer dialogue between producer and consumer countries.

It also comes weeks before the next round of World Trade Organisation negotiations and the December Copenhagen conference on climate change.

Motlanthe reminded the delegates that the past decade witnessed an unprecedented increase in a number of food security and agriculture summits where commitments were made even as recent as the May 2008 Summit which happened against the backdrop of food, finance and fuel crises.

"There too commitments were made and a declaration adopted," he said.

He expressed hope that the gathering would produce a clear programme of action with measurable targets and monitoring mechanisms to track progress.

"This is the essence of the urgent task facing this summit. And to equal this task, we need strong accountability, follow-up mechanisms, monitoring, evaluation and matching funding to implement our decisions.

"The world cannot afford another summit in the face of increasing number of hungry people; let this summit help end hunger," said Motlanthe.

He further called on the speedy conclusion of the Doha Development Round negotiations if the summit intended to counter the instability of the agriculture commodity prices.

The conclusion of these negotiations would lead to a concrete and comprehensive response to the difficulties experienced by developing countries in accessing markets in the developed world and to protect the competitiveness of farmers from the developing world.

Motlanthe welcomed efforts to reform the FAO to effectively respond to the global challenges of food insecurities.

"We are encouraged by efforts to develop a coherent, integrated, inclusive and participatory global governance system on food security. However, this should be anchored on the centrality of the UN in the multilateral system. Therefore, we welcome all efforts to reform FAO to effectively respond to the global challenges of food insecurity amid plenty and wastage," he said.