ECOSOC Highlights Interlinkages between Food and Energy Crises

Current Global Food Crisis Will Require Increasing Amounts of Humanitarian Assistance for Some Time to Come, Economic and Social Council Told 17 July 2008: The UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) concluded

its three-day Humanitarian Affairs Segment by convening a panel discussion on “Humanitarian

challenges related to global food aid, including enhancing international

efforts and cooperation in this field,” chaired by

Council Vice-President Park In-kook (Republic of Korea) and moderated by John Holmes, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs.

Opening the discussion, Park said the surge in food

and fuel prices had lead to the most acute global food security crisis of the

past few decades. John M. Powell, Deputy Executive Director, World Food

Programme (WFP), called for new tools to respond to the unprecedented needs

created by the combination of the global food and fuel crises with natural and

man-made disasters. Jim Butler, Deputy Director-General, Food and Agriculture

Organization of the UN, underscored the importance of the impact of escalating

transportation and agricultural production costs on food prices. Louise Cord,

Sector Manager, Poverty Reduction Group, World Bank, stressed

the need for an integrated response to the food crisis that factored in rising

oil prices and an assessment of the policy framework for biofuel production in

developed and developing countries. Jama Gulaid,

Representative of the UN Children's Fund in Swaziland, called for a new paradigm

to assess the intensifying effect of slow-onset crises such as the HIV and AIDS

epidemic, climate change and escalating food prices. During the ensuing discussion, ECOSOC members and other participants

addressed, inter alia: the need to

increase the capacities of developing countries to produce and purchase more

food; the depletion of worldwide fish stocks; ways of tackling the social

unrest sparked by the food and fuel crises; the need to increase investment in

agriculture; and capacity-building among small farmers. [UN press release, 17 July 2008]