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GCC ministers voice concern over declining state of global food security

posted on 24/11/2010: 831 views



The ministers of GCC countries responsible for agriculture and food security have voiced concerns over the declining state of global food security and the increasing number of starving people worldwide to reach unprecedented levels.

The GCC ministers also stressed awareness of "the challenges to global food security in general and the challenges facing food security in the GCC and Arab countries in particular." The remarks came in the "The Abu Dhabi Declaration on Food Security for Gulf Cooperation Council Countries" which was released at the conclusion of the one-day "First GCC Ministerial Forum for Integrated Food Policies" held yesterday Abu Dhabi.

In the declaration, the GCC ministers underscored the "importance of having national and regional policies, systems and programs, as well as modern and effective measures for improving the safety and quality of foods, and the health of plants and animals to keep pace with the continuous growth in bilateral trade movements across the GCC countries as well as with other countries of the world."

The GCC ministers said they agreed to "strengthen cooperation between GCC countries to achieve food security through national and regional strategies in the framework of common agricultural policies, to work on developing and implementing legislations with solid scientific basis in line with the best international standards and practices (as well as) to strengthen cooperation with all regional and international organisations working in the area of food security and to strengthen United Nations organisations working on food security, with the FAO in their forefront, and to support reforms in the Committee on World Food Security." The said forum was held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister '&' Minister of Presidential Affairs '&' Chairman of Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority.

Following is the full text of "The Abu Dhabi Declaration on Food Security for Gulf Cooperation Council Countries" ----

We, the ministers of GCC countries responsible for agriculture and food security, have gathered yesterday, November 23, 2010, in Abu Dhabi, UAE, at the First GCC Ministerial Forum for Integrated Food Policies, under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister '&' Minister of Presidential Affairs '&' Chairman of Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority.

We affirm that access to sufficient, nutritious and safe food at all times is among the fundamental rights of all human beings wherever they are.

We are concerned about the declining state of global food security and the increase in the number of starving people in the world, whose numbers have now reached unprecedented levels.

We observe and follow -with concern - the steep and continuous rise in food prices in global and local food markets, the depleting food reserves, the diminishing cultivable lands and their productivity, the restrictions occasionally placed on the mobility of trade in essential food materials and the exploitation of agricultural crops for producing bio-fuel.

We reiterate the commitment of our countries to the goals of sustainable development and the millennium development goals, especially those pertaining to fighting poverty and starvation, as well as to the Rome Declaration on global food security (1996), the Riyadh Declaration on enhancing Arab cooperation to face world food crises (2008), the Declaration of the World Summit on Food Security (2009), the Kuwait Declaration at the Arab Economic, Development and Social Summit (2009) and the decisions of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference on food security and agricultural development.

We value the role that the United Nations Organisation and its affiliates - the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) in particular - are playing in the area of food security and in the reduction of starvation, hunger and malnutrition in the world. We express our full support to the efforts of the FAO and other bodies and organisations towards betterment in the area of global food security and eradicating starvation in the world.

We appreciate the efforts of the Committee on World Food Security, affiliated to the FAO. We support its role, especially in strengthening coordinated and concerted work globally and in providing assistance and consultation to countries and regions. We also appreciate its endeavours in executing the plan for the reform of the committee.

We are aware of the challenges to global food security in general and the challenges facing food security in the GCC and Arab countries in particular.

We emphasise on the strong connection between food security and food safety, as both are fundamental to the protection of the health and well being of our citizens and residents.

We stress on the importance of having national and regional policies, systems and programs, as well as modern and effective measures for improving the safety and quality of foods, and the health of plants and animals to keep pace with the continuous growth in bilateral trade movements across the GCC countries as well as with other countries of the world.

We view with a sense of satisfaction the efforts that GCC countries are expending in agricultural development and increased food security as well as in developing policies and systems for food safety to keep pace with international best practices. We also view appreciatively the role of institutions engaged in joint Gulf initiatives in supporting national efforts for increased agricultural production and better productivity in a sustainable manner.

We agree on the following: To strengthen cooperation between GCC countries to achieve food security through national and regional strategies in the framework of common agricultural policies.

To work on developing and implementing legislations with solid scientific basis in line with the best international standards and practices.

To increase agricultural production and improve its rate by using international best practices and modern technologies, based on the comparative advantages of agricultural goods and in a way that reflects environmental sensitivity and the best use and protection of natural resources.

To encourage partnership between the public sector and private sector for the development of the agricultural sector, food industries and the marketing of agro-products through facilitating a suitable investment climate.

To encourage the setting up of national seed banks to benefit from the species already available so as to initiate an agricultural renaissance in the countries of the region and to pre-empt the extinction of the existing species. We also encourage these national seed banks to link themselves to developing regional networks.

To support initiatives to develop integrated monitoring systems in the area of food inspections in line with international best practices, based on the principle of risk management and in a way that is consistent with WTO regulations.

To strengthen the infrastructure that serves food security and enhances food safety, such as laboratories and agricultural and veterinary quarantines.

To strengthen human resources in various areas of agriculture and food.

To set up a regional system for early alerts on food and feed to facilitate exchange of information and data via a network connecting food safety monitoring authorities in the member countries.

To focus more attention on studies and research on food and agriculture, especially on reducing the impact of climate change on the agricultural sector and water resources in GCC countries and to develop plant species that have acclimatised with the hard climatic conditions in the region so as to take advantage of them in national programs for managing climate change.

To develop strategies and plans and technical programs to respond to unsustainable food consumption and to spread and deepen awareness about healthy food among all sections of society, particularly school students.

To strengthen cooperation with all regional and international organisations working in the area of food security and to strengthen United Nations organisations working on food security, with the FAO in their forefront, and to support reforms in the Committee on World Food Security, which is a fundamental element in the efforts to develop international partnership and strategic coordination in the fields of agriculture, food security and nutrition. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

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