Unfulfilled global pledges impact fight against hunger, second committee told as it considers agricultural development

Report
from UN General Assembly
Published on 05 Nov 2012 View Original

GA/EF/3349

Sixty-seventh General Assembly
Second Committee
20th & 21st Meetings (AM & PM)

Delegates Also Debate Eradication of Poverty

Despite fewer people suffering chronic hunger and a drop in the proportion of the world’s population that was undernourished, gains in tackling hunger and food insecurity were “nowhere near good enough”, the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) was told today.

As the Committee concluded its consideration of Agricultural Development and Food Security, a representative of the Rome-based agencies pointed to “mixed news” coming from the State of Food Insecurity report launched in October. She expressed her deep concern that nearly 900 million peopleremained hungry, despite the fact that tackling hunger was a critical component of the Millennium Development Goals.

Benin’s representative offered insight into why the figure remained so high, noting that, despite donor pledges to boost agricultural development and food security made at the L’Aquila Food Security Summit in 2009, only half of the total aid promised had actually been disbursed.

With only two months remaining until the end of the programme’s timeframe, he said it was unlikely those pledges would be met. Nonetheless, he stressed his gratitude for aid that had been received and welcomed initiatives such as the Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, the “Zero Hunger Challenge” and the Scaling-Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement roadmap, which were extremely relevant to least developed countries.

Along with those global initiatives aimed at boosting nutrition and food security, several delegations described work being accomplished at national and regional levels. The representative of Suriname spoke of the Caribbean Community’s (CARICOM) efforts to boost agriculture in the region through a variety of policies, including, among others, the Caribbean Regional Policy for Food and Nutrition Security, which focused on solving practical problems in Member States. The policy tackled hunger for the most vulnerable and sought to develop sustainable agriculture.

He pointed out that CARICOM members’ reliance on expensive food imports over local produce was increasing the incidence of chronic non-communicable diseases in the region, because imported food tended to be more energy dense, processed and higher in oil, sugar and salt. Those imports also caused decreases in income equality and reduced access to resources.

The representative of Brazil also took up the theme of food imports and exports, saying that protectionism in developed countries was threatening food security in the developing world, by hindering production through unfair competition from subsidized goods, and denying access to important external markets. Thus, unfair advantages were granted to producers in developed countries who already enjoyed better conditions, and discouraged production diversification and investment in the rural sector of developing countries.

Despite such challenges, delegates from developing countries remained keenly focused on boosting their rural populations and increasing agricultural output. Morocco’s representative was one of many who emphasised the inextricability of agricultural development and food security. He pointed to several national efforts to improve productivity, especially the improvement of irrigation, the enhanced use of water resources and improved seeds. Nonetheless, like many other countries, agriculture suffered the effects of climate change and faced reduced productivity in the longer term.

To answer such challenges, he said that Morocco’s agricultural development strategy had been revised to increase productivity while simultaneously adapting to climate change. The “Green Morocco Plan” made agriculture the main engine of economic growth for the next decade and emphasised the importance of the linkages between food security, protection of natural resources and investment in combating climate change and its effects.

It was important, New Zealand’s delegate said, that developed countries assist developing countries with adaptation to and mitigation of the effects of climate change. His country was a founding member of the Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases, which explored how food production could be increased without increasing greenhouse gas emissions and he urged other countries to engage in the initiative.

Several delegates stressed that, with such a large part of food production theresponsibility of women, there was a need for policies and programmes to target them. Among those raising this point was Nicaragua’s representative who said that her country’s agricultural development policies emphasised women’s empowerment and that most of their national social programmes, including the expansion of microcredit schemes in the realm of agriculture, were targeted specifically at women.

Other speakers on the subject of Agricultural Development and Food Security were representatives of Namibia, United States, Afghanistan, Israel, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Myanmar, Ethiopia, Philippines, Niger, Cuba and Guinea.

Following conclusion of that debate, the Committee began its consideration of the eradication of poverty and other development related issues. Reports on the issue were introduced by Daniela Bas, Director, Division for Social Policy and Development, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, George Assaf, Director and Representative of the New York office of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and Kazi Rahman the Deputy Special Representative of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation.

Addressing the Committee on that subject were representatives of Algeria (for the Group of 77 developing countries and China), Suriname (for CARICOM), Indonesia (for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)), Libya, Nepal, Bangladesh, Brazil, Belarus, Afghanistan, Ukraine, Thailand, Ethiopia, Bolivia, India, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Malaysia, China, Iraq, Cambodia, Jordan, Azerbaijan, Myanmar, Morocco, Viet Nam, Israel, and Benin (for the Group of Least Developed Countries).

The representatives of Armenia and Azerbaijan spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

The Committee will meet again tomorrow morning, Tuesday, 6 November, at 10 a.m. to conclude its consideration of the Eradication of poverty and other development related issues.