Africa: No Global Security Without A Thriving World Agriculture Sector
22 February 2012
In an insightful keynote address at the International Fund for Agricultural Fund (IFAD) annual meeting, Mario Monti, Prime Minister of the Italian Republic, underscored the relationships between food security, global security and the future of the planet.
Echoing the meeting’s theme of “Feeding the world, protecting the planet”, Monti noted that “we are putting unsustainable pressure the world’s natural resources,” and called for a “comprehensive approach” to address economic development and food security that included economic and humanitarian aspects. “We need to find innovative and bold solutions to the conflicting needs of demographic change, job creation and environmental sustainability,” he said.
“A hungry world is an unjust world,” Monti said. “It is also an unstable world.” Addressing representatives from IFAD’s 167 Member States, most from developing nations struggling to build up their agricultural sectors he added that “the right of every individual to a healthy and nutritious diet must be guaranteed.”
Monti’s speech echoed the address of IFAD’s President, Kanayo F. Nwanze, who said that agricultural development is “essential for lasting food and nutrition security. It is a pathway to employment, wealth creation and economic growth. It is the basis for social cohesion, gender empowerment and equality. It is the foundation for global peace and security.”
Monti strongly encouraged the Fund to continue its work to reduce poverty and hunger, noting that the successful results of IFAD’s Ninth Replenishment are a “strong indication of support for IFAD and its President.”
In December, IFAD Member States announced their commitment to IFAD’s Ninth replenishment of resources of US$1.5 billion in new contributions to finance agriculture and rural development projects across the developing world. This represents a 25 per cent increase over IFAD’s Eighth Replenishment. A number of developing countries that had not participated in previous replenishments announced their contributions, including some from the United Nations list of “least developed countries”.
Monti called for new partnerships between government, the private sector, and civil society, and noted that the Rome-based United Nations agencies “must be at the forefront of these partnerships.”
He referred to Italy’s role in bringing the issue of food security back onto the international political agenda during its presidency of the G8 Summit in 2009 where global leaders committed to mobilize $20 billion over three years through the L’Aquila Food Security Initiative to help farmers in poor countries boost productivity.
The overriding theme of the Italian Prime Minister’s address was global governance and responsibility. He called for broad measures and the need for “a comprehensive approach cutting across policies, countries and institutions and new ways of working and cooperating between governments, the private sector and civil society.”
In closing, Prime Minister Monti congratulated IFAD on its work for gender equality. He repeated the UN Secretary General’s assertion that if given the same access to productive resources as men, women could increase yields on their farms by as much as 20 per cent.
"A policy for women is really a policy for growth," Monti said.
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