ROME – As leaders gathered in Rome on Monday for the World Food Summit, the three Rome-based UN agencies vowed to play their distinct but complementary roles in addressing the short-term and long term needs of the billion hungry people in the world.
“For the first time in history one out of every six people doesn’t know how to fill a humble cup with food each day. This is essentially destabilising for the world,” said WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran as the summit kicked off at the headquarters of the Food and Agriculture Organization.
In their summit declaration, world leaders unanimously pledged renewed commitment to eradicate hunger from the face of the earth sustainably and at the earliest date.
Defeating hunger – or food insecurity, as experts call it -- involves putting in place medium and long term solutions to increase outputs and also meeting the urgent food needs of the billion people who are hungry today.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon opened the summit by urging leaders to “act now” to stem the human suffering caused by chronic hunger affecting a billion people and to resolve the issues causing it.
The UN chief recalled that in 2008 – in the midst of the global food crisis -- WFP led international efforts to respond, feeding more than 100 million people.
“Much potential damage was averted,” he said. “But the underlying problems persist and we will continue to experience such crises again and again unless we act now.”
Leaders attending the summit are expected to commit to a twin-track approach which handles both sides of the challenge.
The need for direct action to meet the immediate needs of the hungry has been become even more pressing in the wake of recent high food prices, food and fuel shortages, financial meltdowns and economic crises.
WFP and IFAD, FAO's sister agencies in Rome, are at the summit to contribute their expertise, to meet with world leaders and to help generate support for the fight against hunger. Working together
One of the questions on the table in Rome is how to minimise the impact of food, economic and financial crises on global food security. Drawing on WFP’s experience of feeding the hungry over the last two turbulent years, Josette Sheeran chairs a session on this issue on Monday.