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Aid groups blast ‘Hunger Summit’ declaration for lacking specifics

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2009-11-17

A UN summit on food security has vowed to take "urgent action" to eliminate hunger, the plight of more than one billion people around the world. But aid groups say the declaration fails to back up its pledges with the funds to deliver.

A communiqué released on Monday at the opening of a United Nations summit on food security vowed to take “urgent action” to end world hunger, but aid groups slammed the declaration for failing to back up its pledges with the funds to deliver.

The declaration called widespread hunger “an unacceptable blight on the lives, livelihoods and dignity of one-sixth of the world's population”. But the corresponding financial pledges fall well short of the amounts the UN says are necessary to make a real impact in the lives of the more than one billion people who lack sufficient access to food.

Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) chief Jacques Diouf has called for $44 billion per annum for development investment into agriculture, an amount that is only some 17 to 18 percent of what the UN considers necessary. Instead it called on wealthy nations to raise $20 billion over the next three years, as pledged at the July Group of Eight (G8) summit in L'Aquila, Italy.

The Hunger Summit declaration made no mention of the FAO proposal to raise annual aid levels to $44 billion.

Some 60 heads of state were in attendance at the Rome-based FAO’s three-day World Summit on Food Security, but aid agencies criticised the absence of leaders from the world’s richest nations.

“Sixty leaders are coming from around the world to this important UN summit, but where are the leaders from all the G8 countries?” asked ActionAid, an organisation aimed at fighting poverty, in a statement.

The document is “just a rehash of old platitudes”, said Francisco Sarmento, the group’s food rights coordinator.

Humanitarian organisations also criticised the document for failing to mention the UN’s previously stated 2025 deadline for the total eradication of world hunger.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for a "single global vision" to address the plight of the world's hungry, saying "the food crisis of today is a wake-up call for tomorrow”. He added that issues of climate change and food security were interlinked, arguing that "there can be no food security without climate security."

“Rich countries are failing to show enough interest and urgency,” said Frederic Mousseau, a spokesman for the Oxfam aid agency.

The declaration called for five basic principles to combat global hunger, including a “twin-track” approach of providing direct action for emergency scenarios while simultaneously introducing long-term projects “to eliminate the root causes of hunger and poverty”. Other principles include focusing national resources on “results-based” programmes, better coordination at all levels, and improving the efficiency and responsiveness of multilateral institutions.

The FAO has launched an online petition to increase public awareness of the issue.

Date created : 2009-11-16

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