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UN General Assembly Concludes Debates on the Global Food and Energy Crisis

Raise Investment in Agriculture or Face Political Unrest, International Community Urged As General Assembly Concludes Debate on Global Food, Energy Crises

21 July 2008: The UN General Assembly

reconvened, on Monday, 21 July, to conclude the plenary meeting on the global

food and energy crisis that began on 18 July 2008. A number of countries,

including Cape Verde and Syria, stressed the interlinkages between the food,

energy and climate challenges.

On the causes of the food crisis, the Congo, Kazakhstan and Syria underlined that

they are multiple. Nicaragua blamed the global economic model, while Libya

highlighted the exacerbating factor of the decline in financial aid directed at

sustainable development. He added that rising energy prices had contributed,

but were not central, to the surge in food prices. The Russian Federation

emphasized the impact of the sharp increase in the subsidized production of

biofuels and export subsidies on the food crisis.

On the means of addressing

the crisis, the Asian-African Legal Consultative Organization, the Congo, Cape Verde, Kazakhstan

and Syria called for

a holistic approach, while the Russian Federation added that the UN should play

a coordination role. On efforts carried out so far to tackle the food crisis,

the Congo mentioned efforts carried out by the UN and partner organizations, but

noted the insufficiency of current food aid levels. Qatar welcomed the support

provided to the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme by

various UN agencies and partners.

The Asian-African Legal Consultative

Organization underlined the absence of a reference to fish stocks depletion in

the Comprehensive Framework for Action. On biofuels, the Congo stressed the

need for fairness in the balance between fuel and food crops. Nicaragua

called “inhumane” the planting of crops for biofuels production when hunger

exists. Kazakhstan and the Russian Federation stated that biofuels production

was one of the causes of the food crisis. Noting that bioenergy could be

produced from non-food fibers, the Asian-African Legal Consultative

Organization urged reviewing the use of food crops to that end. Most speakers outlined

necessary steps to tackle the food crisis.

The Asian-African Legal

Consultative Organization, Cape Verde and Kazakhstan emphasized the importance of strengthening

political will. The Congo called for supporting the World Food Programme

and reforming the World Bank and International Monetary Fund's loan

requirements. Cape Verde called for: guaranteeing direct investment in

developing-world agricultural sectors; successfully concluding the Doha Round;

eliminating the external debt of poor countries; and reforming the global

financial architecture. Libya and Cape Verde highlighted the need of developing

countries for technology transfer and investment in infrastructure. Costa Rica

said the food and energy crises require innovative steps marked by solidarity

from the international community and, with Libya, urged a focus on increasing

global agricultural productivity. Nicaragua stressed the need for: adopting

structural measures; strengthening existing agricultural programmes; and

changing unsustainable consumption patterns in the North.

On financial

resources, Costa Rica and Cape Verde called for an increase in official

development assistance. Syria stated that resources for implementation of the

Comprehensive Framework for Action should be separate from official development

assistance, which was earmarked for activities related to the Millennium

Development Goals.

On the energy crisis, the Russian Federation said the

answers should include shared responsibility by consumers and producers, the

responsibility of transit countries, and the establishment of partnerships

among all stakeholders. He also supported the development of nuclear energy as

the main alternative energy source. [UN press release, 21 July

2008]