1 March 2004, Paris/Rome -- In a meeting today with French President Jacques Chirac, the heads of the three Rome-based UN food agencies welcomed the renewed vigour with which hunger and rural poverty are being addressed.
They reiterated their commitment to intensifying support for the efforts of countries to halve hunger and poverty by 2015, one of the primary targets of the Millennium Declaration in 2000.
Today's meeting followed up on the Joint Declaration made in January by Presidents Jacques Chirac (France), Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (Brazil) and Ricardo Lagos (Chile) and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. The Joint Declaration proposed new financing mechanisms to accelerate progress on eradicating poverty and hunger.
"The Joint Declaration is a catalyst for more far-reaching, coherent and better funded efforts to address hunger, which affects some 840 million people world-wide. We are very supportive of the call for greater action and resources to combat hunger and poverty," said Jacques Diouf, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Lennart Båge, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and James T. Morris, Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP).
"We shall work together to strengthen our ongoing initiatives to support national efforts to eradicate constraints to rural development and food security. We believe that a 'twin-track' approach is needed: emergency assistance in food aid to prevent lasting damage from malnutrition and investments in the rural sector and agricultural production to enable the poorest and most vulnerable people to feed themselves and build sustainable livelihoods."
Meeting with President Chirac, the three agency heads discussed concrete ideas to bolster national efforts to rid developing countries of hunger and rural poverty. Among these were agriculture production, land and water management, rural infrastructure, as well as community-based livelihood programmes, nutrition programmes and safety nets, including school feeding programmes.
They also discussed the importance of decentralized institutional and financial mechanisms to support organizations owned by the poor and their communities. The Rome-based UN agencies offered to collaborate closely with the technical group, which the Joint Declaration recommended to expand the range of potential funding options.
The Rome-based UN agencies already cooperate closely with members of civil society, as part of an International Alliance Against Hunger, a platform for global action to combat hunger and rural poverty. It mobilizes political will and resources from the public and private sectors to support national alliances fighting hunger.
The Rome-based agencies are prepared, given additional resources, to scale-up their activities to support national governments that demonstrate real commitment to reducing hunger and poverty in their countries.
The Government of France welcomed the opportunity to work in concert with the Rome-based UN agencies to focus increased attention and resources on the eradication of hunger and rural poverty.