World leaders have met today in Rome for the opening of a three-day summit on food security. The World Summit on Food Security was organized by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) to address the issue of world hunger which today affects around one billion people.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon opened the summit by calling for a ‘single global vision’ to address the plight of the world’s billion hungry people. The number of people in the world suffering from hunger and malnutrition this year, is greater than at any other time. FAO warned that with food prices remaining stubbornly high in developing countries and the global economic crisis, global food insecurity has worsened and represents a serious threat for humanity.
Ban said the issues of climate change and food security are interlinked. ‘There can be no food security without climate security,’ he said, adding: ‘We must help the most vulnerable to adapt.’ The summit will provide political momentum to three linked issues: food security, biodiversity and climate change. The Rome ‘Hunger Summit,’ next month’s UN climate change talks in Copenhagen and next year’s UN General Assembly review of the UN Millennium Development Goals must ‘produce real results… for the people who are hungry today (so that) millions more will not have to suffer when the next blow hits,’ Ban said.
The forum will be attended by more than 400 delegates from around 70 countries but has been critisized by activists for the lack of attendance by many leaders of the wealthiest nations. Critics have said that with only one of the leaders of the G8 group of industrialized nations present – Italy’s prime minster Silvio Berlusconi – the conference will be essentially powerless.
Slow Food International Vice President John Kariuki is currently in Rome attending the conference and meeting other youth leaders from developing countries.