High-Level Conference on World Food Security: the Challenges of Climate Change and Bioenergy

3-5 June 2008 | Rome, Italy

Highlights for Tuesday, 3 June 2008
The High-Level Conference on World Food Security: the Challenges of Climate Change and Bioenergy opened on 3 June 2008, at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) headquarters in Rome, Italy. In the morning, after an opening plenary, a High-Level Segment convened. In the afternoon, the High-Level Segment resumed and a Committee of the Whole (COW) met to review the draft declaration of the Conference.

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Curtain Raiser

Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General, Jacques Diouf, FAO Director-General and Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of State of the Holy See.

Daily highlights:
Tuesday, 3 June
- Wednesday, 4 June - Thursday, 5 June

Giorgio Napolitano, President of Italy, stressed the need to look beyond the emergency and focus on improved long-term agricultural production.
Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General, said we have a historic opportunity to revitalize agriculture and called for a greater level of international consensus on biofuels.
Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of State of the Holy See, delivered a message on behalf of Pope Benedict XVI,  in which he called hunger and malnutrition “unacceptable” in a world that has sufficient production levels, and pointed to structural barriers to adequate food supplies.
Jacques Diouf, FAO Director-General, noted that the meeting had become a "de facto summit," in light of the current food crisis.

Opening plenary
Giorgio Napolitano, President of Italy, stressed that the food crisis threatens the progress achieved so far towards the MDGs and suggested that developed countries adopt a critical spirit. He said relying on market values will not suffice to overcome the crisis and called for policies and actions set within, and implemented through, the UN.
Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General, noted that although the food crisis could undo the work done towards building democracies, it is also an opportunity to revisit our past policies. He outlined some of the recommendations formulated by the UN Task Force on the Global Food Security Crisis and urged participants to act in partnership.
In a message delivered by Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of State of the Holy See, Pope Benedict XVI called the right to food an ethical issue, and asked participants to consider the dignity of all people. He stressed the importance of structural reforms for tackling the challenges of food security and climate change.
Jacques Diouf, FAO Director-General, noted the meeting had become a “de facto summit,” in light of the food crisis. Expressing frustration that adequate funding had not been provided for programmes that would have assured world food security, he called for innovative solutions and urged delegates to engage in non-partisan discussion.
Gianni Alemanno, Mayor of Rome, deplored that the MDGs are unlikely to be reached.
Delegates elected Silvio Berlusconi, Prime Minister of Italy, as Chair of the High-Level Conference. They also elected Denis Sassou N’Guesso (Congo), Masatoshi Wakabayashi (Japan), Iztok Jarc (Slovenia), Leonel Fernández (Dominican Republic), Amin Abaza (Egypt), Mark Keenum (US), and Jim Anderton (New Zealand) as Vice-Chairs; and Leonel Fernández (Dominican Republic) as rapporteur.
Delegates then adopted the Agenda and Timetable (HLC/08/2- Rev.5) and established the Committee of the Whole and other Arrangements (HLC/08/2-Rev.5 and HLC/08/INF/9-Rev.1), to be chaired by Henri Djombo, Minister of Forestry and Environment of the Congo, on behalf of COW Chair Denis Soussa N'Guesso.

Giorgio Napolitano, President of Italy (center)
  Gianni Alemanno, Mayor of Rome

Silvio Berlusconi, Prime Minister of Italy

Statements by Heads of Delegation

Muhammad Hosni Mubarak, President of Egypt, advocated a broad-based network of social solidarity, and an international code of conduct which rejects biofuel subsidies.   Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, President of Brazil, supported sustainable biofuel production, attributing the current food crisis to high oil prices and protectionist agricultural subsidies.   Yasuo Fukuda, Prime Minister of Japan, announced US$100 million in emergency food aid, to be dispersed by July.

Danilo Türk, President of Slovenia, said climate change adaptation should be integrated with food security and poverty reduction strategies.   Isaias Afwerki, President of Eritrea, said it is "morally reprehensible" to leave those who are already deprived of other necessities of life to fend for themselves.

  Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, President of Argentina, said the current food crisis is a problem of food production as well as of food distribution and access.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, expressed concern over the position of some developed countries in international relations, including trade negotiations.   José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, Prime Minister of Spain, drew attention to those who face sacrifice, hunger or even death due to the food crisis, especially children.

Nicolas Sarkozy, President of France, said the neglect of focus on agricultural production in developing countries is a historical strategic error, and suggested establishing an international expert panel on food and agriculture.

  Mahinda Rajapakse, President of Sri Lanka, called for a global mechanism to reduce fluctuations in food production.

Stjepan Mesíc, President of Croatia

  Ismaël Omar Guelleh
President of Djibouti
  Marc Ravalomanana, President of Madagascar

Robert Gabriel Mugabe, President of Zimbabwe   José Ramón Machado Ventura,
Vice President of Cuba

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka,
Deputy President of South Africa

  Jean Ping, Chair of the African Union Commission

Zhengcai Sun, Minister for Agriculture of China   Ed Schafer, Secretary of Agriculture, United States



Henri Djombo, Minister of Forestry and Environment of the Congo, acting on behalf of COW Chair Denis Soussa N'Guesso, opened the session. James Butler, FAO Deputy Director-General, asked participants to act “boldly, quickly, fairly,” and to commit to urgent action in light of the challenges facing food security.
The Chair asked that the final declaration be substantive and that it reflect the need to develop biofuels and provide a response to climate change challenges. He stressed that the whole world has high expectations for this process. The Co-Chairs of the Informal Open-Ended Working Group explained the drafting process, and urged delegates to continue moving forward in a spirit of cooperation towards finding consensus on the declaration.
Participants focused primarily on procedural issues for working through the document, although some substantive discussion occurred. ARGENTINA expressed concern that only some of the causes of the food crisis were named, and suggested that it would be more useful to describe the causes in general terms and to focus on solutions. BRAZIL suggested including a reference to water resources. The procedural suggestions included convening a Friends of the Chair group, moving through the bracketed text in the COW, and re-convening the Informal Open-Ended Working Group. Delegates agreed on the latter option.

Private Sector Forum

Kofi Annan, Chair of the Board of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa
  James Butler, FAO Deputy Director-General

Civil Society and Non-Governmental Organizations Forum


Daily highlights:
Tuesday, 3 June
- Wednesday, 4 June - Thursday, 5 June

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