The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Oxfam's Matt Grainger +441865-338128, + 44 7730680837 or,

ActionAid's Sarah Gillam + 44 7738 884014,

Leaders Urged to Salvage UN World Food Summit as Hopes for Action on Hunger Fade

More than one billion people are going hungry


Monday's UN World Food
Summit in Rome (16-18th) could be a waste of time and money unless
world leaders intervene now to salvage it. Governments are at risk of
throwing away a great chance to stop more than one billion people going

The current declaration finalized Tuesday night (10th) says little
new. Meanwhile, this summer's G8 pledge of $20 billion to tackle hunger
appears to have been grossly overstated. The new money amounts to
little more than a one-off payment of around $3 for each hungry person
- barely enough for a single hot meal.

A rehash of old platitudes

"The declaration is just a rehash of old platitudes," said Francisco
Sarmento, ActionAid's food rights coordinator. "It says hunger will be
halved by 2015 but fails to commit any new resources to achieve this or
provide any way of holding governments to account through the UN's
Committee on Food Security. Unfortunately the poor cannot eat promises".

"ActionAid appreciates Pope Benedict XVI's attendance at the Summit
but frankly he needs to pray for a miracle if the G8 can only find $3
billion in new money to solve world hunger," said Sarmento. "That is
less than Goldman Sach's $3.2 billion profit announced on the eve of
World Food Day.

"Currently, many rich countries seem intent on trying to increase
food production by simply pushing for more chemical fertilizers and new
technologies, particularly in Africa. This could offer some poor
farmers short-term relief but it is not the answer to the structural
problems behind world hunger, nor is it sustainable. It will simply
condemn the developing world to a future of repetitive food crises and
more environmental degradation," said Oxfam spokesperson Frederic

The summit is largely ignoring vulnerable groups

"Instead we need more investment in better policies, institutions,
services and training to encourage sustainable farming adapted to local
agro-ecological environments. Smallholder farmers, mostly women, are on
the frontline in the fight against world poverty, hunger and climate
change and we must not continue to ignore them," said Mousseau.

The summit is also largely ignoring other vulnerable groups, such as
landless farmers and the urban poor who are in desperate need of
long-term social protection and livelihood support as an alternative to
short-term food aid.

"Rich countries are failing to show enough interest and urgency. At
the G8 in Italy this summer they pledged $20 billion for agricultural
over three years, so they believe they have done enough. They haven't -
and the $20 billion is a mirage. Less than a quarter of this money is
new. The UN itself says that $25-$40 billion in public spending is
needed each year just to keep up progress towards achieving the first
Millennium Development Goal to halve hunger by 2015," Mousseau said.

Developing countries must play a bigger role

Developing countries must also play a bigger role in the summit by
committing to spend 10% of their agricultural budgets and focus their
plans to reach the poor and hungry. Oxfam and ActionAid say, at a
minimum, this UN World Food Summit must:

  • Endorse and fund a reformed UN Committee on World Food Security as the central high level political platform for food security;
  • Increase public support for sustainable production by smallholder farmers and social protection in developing countries to fight poverty and hunger and to build resilience to harmful climate change.
  • Agree at least a $40-billion-a-year rescue of the Millennium Development Goal to
    halve global hunger and turn it into country-specific commitments, with
    proper plans and resources for food security and rural development
    focusing particularly on smallholder farmers.

Oxfam International is a global movement of people who are fighting inequality to end poverty and injustice. We are working across regions in about 70 countries, with thousands of partners, and allies, supporting communities to build better lives for themselves, grow resilience and protect lives and livelihoods also in times of crisis.