G8 leaders meeting in Italy have pledged to step up the fight against global hunger through a US$20 billion fund to help poor nations develop their agricultural sector.
ROME -- In a joint declaration, the G8 leaders agreed to "to act with the scale and urgency needed to achieve sustainable global food security". They stressed that access to adequate and affordable nutritious food is a critical aspect of food security.
"Emergency assistance will remain an important means through which national authorities, supported by WFP and other specialized agencies...can provide help to people facing acute hunger," the declaration said.
US President Barack Obama said the issue of food security was of huge importance to all nations in the world. Rich nations had a moral responsibility to help poorer nations, he said. Read White House statement
A billion hungry
The agreement at the G8 summit came less than a month after new figures showed that almost a sixth of the world’s population is now hungry. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, the number of hungry people in the world is expected to rise above a billion this year – more than ever before. Read story
WFP has been a strong advocate for greater investment in agricultural development. Through its policy of buying food as close to where it is needed as possible, it supports local agriculture. Its P4P initiative also aims to help small holder farmers produce more and to connect them to markets.
But as the world works to build the long term solutions to hunger, WFP is calling for due attention to be also focused on the immediate needs of the hungry. WFP analysts note that even tripling agricultural production overnight would not stop people being hungry because in many cases food is available but people cannot access it, often for economic reasons.
“Meeting urgent hunger needs is the best long term investment we can make,” said Nancy Roman, WFP's Director of Communications, Public Policy and Private Sector Partnerships. “It’s an investment in stability and world peace. It’s an investment in the next generation of global citizens and an investment in global human development”.
The global economic downturn has made it harder than ever for the world’s poor to feed themselves and, although food prices have fallen from last year’s peaks, they remain stubbornly high in many of the countries where WFP works.
Read story: The Billionth Hungry Person?