Statement By WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran On G20 Agriculture Ministerial Declaration

Published on 23 June 2011

The World Food Programme (WFP) applauds the results of the G20 Agriculture Ministerial, and I want to thank President Sarkozy, Minister Le Maire and the French government for putting the pressing food and nutrition security needs of the most vulnerable high on their G20 agenda.

Today's meeting of G20 Agriculture Ministers comes at a critical moment for the world's hungry. The perfect storm of 2011 is where three trends -- rising food prices, weather emergencies and political instability -- intersect. The poorest households that spend up to three quarters of their total income on basic foodstuffs need concrete action now. Nearly one billion people go to bed hungry each night.

The Ministerial Declaration and Action Plan on Food Price Volatility and Agriculture puts forward concrete actions to address the challenges facing vulnerable nations and peoples with little resilience to external shocks. It powerfully reaffirms the right of all people to safe, sufficient, nutritious food and the critical importance of rapid action to meet urgent food requirements.

The Action Plan affirms and strengthens the capacity of WFP and others assessing and responding to food crises, while building the capacity of nations and peoples to better manage risk and meet their own food and nutrition security needs. WFP applauds this historic agreement and strong Action Plan provisions that can:

•    Ensure the hungry have access to food through WFP in emergencies by removing export barriers or extraordinary taxes for humanitarian food and promote broad global support for similar action through UN agencies and the World Trade Organisation.

•    Give vulnerable nations and people predictable and rapid access to sufficient food in times of need by asking WFP and others to propose the design of a targeted emergency humanitarian food reserves system.

•    Protect humanitarian food supply chains against price and supply shocks and maximise their impact for the most vulnerable by supporting WFP's use of proven advance food purchase and food pre-positioning tools and encouraging greater use of financial risk management instruments.

•    Strengthen assessments of food needs by launching a new global Agricultural Market Information System (AMIS) and a Rapid Response Forum that establishes a new crisis information system that would improve the quality and accuracy of food production, consumption and stock data, utilising household data from WFP’s Vulnerability Analysis and Mapping (VAM) department.

•    Underscore the importance of WFP’s shift from food aid to food assistance by providing strong support for “modern, flexible and diversified food assistance” as a “critical tool to address food insecurity and mitigate the negative impact of high and volatile food prices on the most vulnerable.”

Today's agreement sends a clear message that the world's largest economies are serious about protecting the poorest and most vulnerable from the crushing impact of high and volatile food prices. It offers hope for the nearly one billion people on the frontlines of hunger.