Food security for all

United Nations Secretary-General made concluding remarks to the High-Level
meeting in Madrid Spain January 27, 2009.

you, Prime Minister Zapatero, and the Government and people of Spain, for calling us to Madrid to focus on the shocking problem of
ever-increasing world hunger and the fragility of our food security systems.

2008, a chain reaction pushed up food prices so high that basic rations were
beyond the reach of millions of people. By the end of the year, the total
number of hungry people in our world approached an intolerable one billion.

statistics are startling but the stories of each household affected by hunger,
and each malnourished child, are truly appalling. I saw it myself in my village when I was
younger. I see it now when I travel, and it never ceases to disturb me.

cutting down on the food they eat to ensure their children have enough.

selling their animals, land or even homes to buy food.

struggling each day to protect their children from the physical and mental
scars of malnutrition.

poverty cannot be reduced without improvements in agriculture and food systems.
Most people are farmers. Most farm work is done by women. And those efforts
contribute significantly to the domestic product of poor countries.

can produce more, but not without help – credit, seeds, fertilizers and land

the past year, many of the 400 million farmers who produce food from small
holdings could not respond to growing demands. They lack the inputs they needed
to make the most of their land, animals and rivers. Moreover, many cannot get
their produce to market. Far too many joined the ranks of the hungry.

prices may have come down for the time being. But the number of hungry people
is set to rise again.

the spreading misery of shrinking economies, communities that were starting to
emerge from poverty must wrestle instead with fewer jobs, limited access
credit, and restricted market opportunities. The increasing number of urban
poor is being hardest hit.

people are constantly being put to the test by food and nutrition insecurity,
the impact of climate change, water shortages and animal diseases. We need to
do far more to strengthen social protection systems that promote community
resilience and prevent long-term despair and destruction.

good work has been done in the last year. Farmers’ groups, community
organizations, private enterprises and governments in many of the affected
countries have worked hard, often together, to tackle the crisis.

nations increased their domestic programs to ensure food security.

increased their assistance as best they could.

members of the international community came together and committed to do more
to help – at the high-level conference in Rome,
at the African Union Assembly in Sharm el Sheikh, and at the UN General
Assembly in New York.

UN system and international financial institutions established a High Level
Task Force, and committed to work together and to enable others to track our

result is an unprecedented effort to support nations and respond to the impact
of the food crisis on the world’s most vulnerable people.

food prices rose and brought the number of hungry people close to one billion,
we achieved the largest emergency scale-up against hunger and malnutrition in
human history.

continue to work for coherent partnerships involving the members of my High
Level Task Force, governments, the private sector, civil society, and NGOs,
including tens of thousands of dedicated people, many who are risking their
lives under difficult and dangerous conditions.

generous support from many nations including Saudi Arabia, we have delivered
urgent food and nutrition assistance and safety net support to more than 100
million hungry people, mostly women and children, including 20 million children
in school feeding programs.

have developed robust programs and plans to help smallholder farmers gain
access to markets, credits, seeds and fertilizers. The support of the European
Commission has been crucial in this regard, as was the engagement of private
partners such as the Gates and Buffett foundation. Tens of millions of farmers
have been helped to produce more food.

institutions – including FAO, WFP, IFAD and the World Bank – spared no effort
to stand with those in need. Make no mistake, when funds are available, our
system delivers help to where it is needed.

Mr. Prime Minister, I understand your sense – indeed, the sense of this meeting
– that more must all do more.

worked hard to bring food assistance to those who needed it in 2008. I expect
we will have to work even harder in 2009, this year of recession. In 2008, for
example, we were unable to get the seeds and fertilizers to all the
smallholders who needed them in two planting seasons. We must do better in

must build on what was done last year, sustain our successes and scale up our
responses, especially as the financial crisis compounds the impact of the food
crisis. We must continue to meet urgent hunger and humanitarian needs by
providing food and nutrition assistance and safety nets, while focusing on
improving food production and smallholder agriculture. This is the twin-track
approach taken in the Comprehensive Framework of Action. We should be ready to
add a third track – the right to food – as a basis for analysis, action and

Prime Minister, I agree that we should reach out even more and forge a broad
and inclusive movement that draws on the best available knowledge and spends
money wisely, through a better coordinated mechanism.

met with members of the task force this morning. Based on their briefing and
clear messages, I have reached a number of conclusions.

the way forward must link actions to reduce hunger, improve food and nutrition
security, broaden social protection for the vulnerable, improve agricultural
production, and make trading systems work for the world’s poor. We must raise
the political profile of actions in all these areas, advocating for finance,
actions and results,

we must support consultations for inclusive partnerships that help generate
sustained national, regional and global level commitment for the movement
against hunger, malnutrition and food insecurity. I welcome the suggestion of a
Global Partnership for Agriculture and Food Security that is truly inclusive
and broad based. In supporting the consultations to develop this partnership I
will be guided by the views expressed by the range of stakeholder groups in
this conference, and by follow-up discussions that involve countries, civil
society and members of my High Level Task Force.

countries need easier access to external assistance for their food security and
smallholder farming programs. If we can mobilize and move funds, know-how or
private investments in a more consistent and predictable way, the volume of
resources will increase. But if we do not get our house in order, if we do not
build a responsive consortium that serves a viable and coordinated financial
mechanism for food security, the money will not come through. Our choice is as
simple as that.

have enough institutions to ensure that needs are prioritized, that proposals
are assessed and that funds are made available in a coordinated, efficient and
accountable way. What we need is more effective coordination within countries
in the framework of the Comprehensive Framework for Action, underpinned by
significantly greater resources.

urge all of you, and those you represent, to move forward within the spirit of
the Comprehensive Framework for Action in all its aspects. I also call on you
to engage with WFP, FAO, IFAD, the World Bank and others in carrying their
vital work.

Prime Minister,

and the team that organized this meeting have provided a valuable forum in
which to assess our progress and identify what needs to be done. Indeed this
meeting signals that there is a strong collective will to support and sustain a
lasting movement. I pledge that members of our High Level Task Force will do
our part to make this happen.

know you all agree that continuing hunger is a deep stain on our world. The time has come to remove it – forever. We
have the wealth and know-how to do so. Let us do our utmost to keep hunger at
the centre of the political lens. History will judge us on our response.

you again for your commitment to this cause”.