Wednesday, 4 June 2008

UN FOOD SUMMIT: BACKGROUNDER

By JULIA DAY, STEPS Centre member

The United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organisation called the emergency meetingafter soaring commodity prices threatened to add as many as 100 million more people to the 850 million already going hungry, destabilising governments in the process. Photo: Guilio Napolitano / FAO

The FAO said the meeting would discuss ways to address hunger and malnutrition in the face of soaring food prices, scarce resources, climate change, increased energy needs and population growth.

The cost of major food commodities has doubled over the last couple of years, with rice, corn and wheat at record highs. The OECD sees prices retreating from their current peaks but still up to 50 percent higher in the coming decade.

According to a statement on the FAO's website, the summit would "offer a historic chance to re-launch the fight against hunger and poverty and boost agricultural production in developing countries."

The event will deliver the following, according to the FAO statement of intent:

  • Identification of the new challenges facing world food security, supply and demand side, policies and market structure.
  • A better understanding of the nexus between food security, climate change and bioenergy.
  • Identification of a process for institutional action for the integration of food security safeguards into international climate-related and sustainable bioenergy agreements.
  • Discussion and adoption of required policies, strategies and programmes for ensuring world food security, in particular measures to address soaring food prices.

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