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Madrid High-level Meeting on Food Security for All Calls for Exploring Options for a Global Partnership for Agriculture and Food Security

L-R: Lennart Bage, Anne Veneman, Josette Saheeran, Jacques Diouif, Peter Power, Ngozi N. Okonjo-Iweala and Luis Riera.

27 January 2009: The High-level Meeting on Food Security for All, held from 26-27 January 2009, in Madrid, Spain, issued a statement that calls for a consultative process on options for a Global Partnership for Agriculture Food Security and Nutrition. Convened by the Government of Spain and the UN, and attended by representatives of 126 countries as well as UN agencies, civil society, trade unions, academia, donor agencies and the private sector, the meeting reviewed progress in addressing the global food crisis since the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) High-level Conference on World Food Security: the Challenges of Climate Change and Bioenergy, held in June 2008. 

In a statement that was issued at the close of the meeting, based on the Chair's summary of proceedings, participants emphasize, among other measures: identifying financing gaps and additional resources needed for existing anti-famine mechanisms; addressing all aspects of food security, including social protection systems and the elimination of competition distorting subsidies; and making social and economic development of rural areas a primary policy objective. Participants also called for a consultative process on options for a Global Partnership Agriculture, Food Security and Nutrition, and specify that the consultative process should: be open to all stakeholders; be overseen by a representative contact group; use a sound methodology based on best practice, participation and feedback from stakeholders; and identify examples of ongoing partnerships.

In his address to the meeting, FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf cautioned against interpreting the recent decline in food prices as the end of the food crisis, noting that lower prices can trigger lower investments and a decline in food supply. He said that, combined with higher demand for feedstock for bioenergy, this could aggravate the risks of food insecurity in developing countries, particularly in low-income food-deficit countries. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stressed that poor people are challenged by food and nutrition insecurity, the impact of climate change, water shortages and animal diseases, and called for further action to strengthen social protection systems that promote community resilience and prevent long-term despair and destruction. Welcoming the suggestion of a Global Partnership, he also urged building a responsive consortium that serves as a viable and coordinated financial mechanism for food security. [Meeting Website] [Statement by Jacques Diouf] [Statement by Ban Ki-moon]