UN General Assembly Discusses Concerted Action to Tackle the Global Food and Energy Crises

Srgjan Kerim, United Nations General Assembly President 18 July 2008: Addressing the UN General Assembly during its 112th plenary meeting, held on the global food and energy crisis, Srgjan Kerim, President of

the General Assembly, and UN Secretary-General Ban

Ki-moon urged coordinated action to tackle the three challenges of climate

change, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and the food and oil crises.

Kerim stated that the food and oil crises have been compounded by climate change and economic depression, and cited the UN Development Programme's Human Development Report, which identified mechanisms through which climate change could reverse human development. Highlighting the

potential social and economic impacts of the crises, he urged the UN system to

play a central role in the coherent and coordinated response they require,

based on the Secretary-General's Comprehensive Framework for Action on food

security. Kerim also called for member States' full, continuous and high-level commitment to tackle the crises, noting that they provide an opportunity to renew the multilateral system. He

underscored the need for: changing global agricultural policies; eliminating trade distorting practices; reaching out to small farmers in Africa; and successfully concluding the Doha Round of

international trade talks.

Warning that the food and oil crises could undo

progress made to tackle climate change and achieve the MDGs, he stressed the

urgency for the UN General Assembly to adopt a Resolution

calling for immediate concerted global action. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon highlighted the exacerbating effect of

climate change on the ‘double jeopardy' of high food and oil prices, which

threatens to undo progress achieved towards the MDGs. Recalling his statement

at the G8 Summit in Hokkaido, Japan, he called for a global response through

global partnerships in order to reach the MDGs, tackle climate change and

respond to the food and energy crises. He noted progress made by the international

community in this direction, including commitments made at the G8 Summit, the

adoption of the Ministerial Declaration of the Economic and Social Council, and

the mobilization of funds by UN agencies and partners, and urged stepping up

these efforts.

On future actions, the Secretary-General outlined: ensuring urgent

help for vulnerable populations; immediately boosting agricultural production

and increasing agriculture's share in official development assistance; improving

fair trade and the free flow of markets; significantly increasing investment in

agriculture and rural development; strengthening global food commodity markets;

and reassessing subsidies and tariff protection for biofuel production.

Highlighting the costs of inaction, he called on the General Assembly to live

up to its responsibility to swiftly address the global food and fuel crises. [UN press release, 18 July 2008] [UNGA President's statement] [UN Secretary-General's remarks]