“The cost of inaction – even in what may constitute tough economic times – will be devastating, and the effects will be felt all over the world,” he told the gathering, which included representatives of governments, regional organizations and agencies such as the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Bank.
Leaders were in agreement with Mr. Ban on the urgent need to increase productivity, especially for smallholder farmers, and to invest more into agricultural development, research, and technology transfer. They called for a “second green revolution,” particularly in Africa, and for increases in private sector investment and public funding.
Mr. Ban expressed his gratitude to President José Manuel Barroso of the European Commission for his reaffirmation of Europe’s commitment to provide an additional 1 billion Euros for urgently needed food aid and productivity inputs.
The Secretary-General has estimated that it will take as much as $40 billion a year in funding over the next three to five years to alleviate the food crisis and ensure long-term improvement in agricultural production.
There was also recognition of the close linkages between the food crisis and climate change and the urgent need for an ambitious global agreement on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in Copenhagen in 2009. In that regard, the upcoming climate talks in Poznan, Poland, later this year should result in a concrete work programme for negotiations in 2009, the leaders stated.
Last night’s meeting followed a day-long event during which governments, foundations, businesses and civil society groups announced an estimated $16 billion in new commitments to slash hunger, poverty, disease and other socio-economic ills by 2015, and thereby achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).