Friday, 10 July 2009

G8 correcting mistakes tackling hunger, according to U.N.

Pledges by leaders of rich nations at the Group of Eight summit will not be enough, according to a senior U.N. official.

L'AQUILA, ITALY (JULY 10, 2009) POOL - Leaders of rich nations at the Group of Eight summit are making a major shift away from failed strategies tackling hunger, but their aid pledges in Italy will not be enough, a senior U.N. official said on Friday (July 10).
Jacques Diouf, director-general of the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), applauded the text of a final declaration that shifts its focus away from delivering food donations and instead looks to boosts agricultural investment.

The U.S. is the world's largest aid donor of food -- mostly grown domestically and bought from U.S. farmers.

The G8 statement, set to be approved by leaders shortly, is expected to pledge $15 billion USD over three years to boost agricultural investment in poorer countries and fight food insecurity.

According to the United Nations, the number of malnourished people has risen over the past two years and is expected to top 1.02 billion this year, reversing a four-decade trend of decline.

Diouf criticised reductions in aid for agriculture, which he said fell from 17 percent in 1980 to around five percent today.

He said: "What is new and encouraging is the decision for the first time to shift policy and to do what we always have been saying we needed to do if we want to address the problem of hunger in the world. There are one billion persons hungry, and most of these people, if not all, are in developing countries. In addition world population will be increasing to reach 9.2 billion persons by the year 2050 and most of these people, if not all, will be in the countries that already have the hungry persons. Therefore there is no way to solve this if we do not increase the production, their productivity and allow them, through their normal livelihood to get the income necessary and the auto consumption necessary."

G8 summits have a history of broken aid promises. In a report last month, anti-poverty group ONE said the world's richest nations were collectively off course in delivering on promises to more than double aid to Africa made at a G8 summit in 2005.

Still, Diouf said the commitments made at the current summit would lay groundwork for further progress at a November summit in Rome hosted by the FAO. Invitations were extended to 192 members.