10/11/2019 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 10/11/2019 12:47
Note: Following is a partiall summary of statements made in today's meetings of the Second Committee (Economic and Financial). A complete summary will be available later today as Press Release GA/EF/3518.
ALEXANDER TREPELKOV, Officer-in-Charge, Division for Sustainable Development, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, introducing the report of the Secretary-General titled 'Agriculture development, food security and nutrition' (document A/74/237), said the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development places eradication of poverty and hunger among its core priorities. He noted world hunger is on the rise for the third consecutive year after decades of steady decline, with over 820 million people undernourished worldwide in 2018. Africa remains the most severely affected continent with 256 million (one‑fifth of the population) undernourished. In all, he added, it is estimated that over 2 billion people globally lack access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food.
At the same time, it is estimated that one‑third of the global population will be overweight by 2030, he continued. Reversing these trends in malnutrition requires ensuring an adequate, nutritious food supply to feed 10 billion people by 2050 and employment for the 28 per cent of the population working in the agriculture sector. It is also necessary to reduce the 25 per cent of greenhouse emissions from that sector, reducing its withdrawals of 70 per cent of the world's water and protecting the land and soils used for crops and grazing - 37 per cent of the world's land surface.
He said the report uses a sustainable food systems perspective to identify key issues in promoting inclusive food systems and strengthening climate resilience. Innovation and new technologies in food, agriculture and forestry show promise in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, with the use of digital technology creating better access to information, markets and service for farming households. He added that climate technologies in agri‑food systems help countries reduce their emissions and adapt to the challenge.
ABDULLAH ABU SHAWESH, observer for the State of Palestine, speaking on behalf of the 'Group of 77' developing countries and China, noted that the number of people suffering from hunger has been growing over the past three years. The total number of people in the world affected by undernourishment or chronic food deprivation is now estimated to have increased from about 811 million in 2017 to a little over 821 million in 2018. The number of people facing crisis‑level food insecurity or worse has decreased to 113 million in 2018 from 124 million in 2017 affected by conflict, environmental factors and excessive food price volatility, but this is largely attributed to changes in climate shocks. Increased investments are needed to enhance capacity for agricultural productivity. He underscored the challenge to all Member States, especially developing countries, to comprehensively address the complex interlinkages among food security, nutrition, rural transformation and sustainable agriculture with other Sustainable Development Goals.
PERKS LIGOYA (Malawi), speaking on behalf of the Group of Least Developed Countries and associating himself with the Group of 77, stated that new evidence in 2018 points to rising world hunger with 113 million people across 53 countries having experienced acute hunger requiring urgent food assistance. He noted 29 of those countries were least developed countries with a population of 80 million, their hunger primarily caused by conflict, high food prices and abnormal weather patterns causing droughts and floods. Global warming is expected to ratchet up the pace of extreme weather, putting new pressure on agriculture and food production. He added that official development assistance (ODA) to agriculture in developing countries has fallen from nearly 25 per cent of all sector‑allocable aid from donors in the mid‑1980s to only 5 per cent in 2017, a decline of $12.6 billion. He noted that despite rapid urbanization, extreme poverty remains a rural phenomenon, with 75 per cent of the countries' population in those areas, calling for intensified inclusive economic transformation there. He called for investing in smallholder farmers, many of whom are women, in order to feed a least developed countries population expected to double by 2050. Agricultural systems must undergo a vast transformation to become more resilient and adaptive to climate change while increasing production and reducing emissions.
SHARON LINDO (Belize), speaking on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States, said the impacts of climate change, including higher frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, continue to affect the stability of food availability across the world, as it increases supply risks and reduces supply predictability. Small island developing States are more vulnerable to both food supply disruptions and damage caused by climate induced hazards, which make their food security even more precarious. Climate change also has a significant impact on fisheries, which several small islands rely on as the main source of protein and to sustain their economies. Ocean warming has contributed to an overall global decrease in maximum catch potential, which is exacerbated by overfishing. In addition, with large ocean territories, small islands are particularly vulnerable to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, but have limited means and capacity to combat this issue.
MERIEM EL HILALI (Morocco), speaking on behalf of the African Group and aligning herself with the Group of 77, expressed deep concern over the overwhelming rise in world hunger for the third consecutive year with 821 million people or one in nine people worldwide undernourished in 2018. Africa still has the highest prevalence of undernourishment affecting one‑fifth of its population or 256 million people, which she called an alarming situation requiring strong urgent action at the national, regional and international level. Africa's food security is threatened by multiple issues including climate change, desertification, land degradation and conflict. However, she also pointed to the continent's enormous agricultural potential, with the world's largest share of uncultivated fertile land, abundant water resources and proximity to transportation links and regional markets. She also noted the youthful population is a 'golden opportunity to be exploited' by engaging them in sustainable agriculture. Noting new projects will have a multiplier effect for food security prospects on the continent, she cited the African free trade agreement as a major stimulant. She stressed the role of increased investment in agriculture, which Africa is promoting in the public and private sectors.
HMWAY HMWAY KHYNE (Myanmar), speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and associating herself with the Group of 77, said that agriculture is crucial to economic development and the livelihood and employment of the rural population. The sector has however, experienced some slowdown due to climate change, disadvantages in the market and development gaps. Significant achievements have been made in enhancing trade facilitation and ensuring food security, food safety and better nutrition. Noting that 821 million people still do not have access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food, she expressed concern that in her region accelerated urbanization, impacts of climate change and degradation of natural resources has brought about new challenges. Southeast Asia is one of the most vulnerable regions of the world in terms of adverse climate change impact. Its countries are therefore focused on attaining food security through sustainable, efficient and effective use of land and by minimizing the risks and impacts of climate change on the agriculture sector.
RUDOLPH TEN-POW (Guyana), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Alliance of Small Island States, said that agriculture is a major source of employment in his region. Its decline in some countries, including Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Grenada, is a cause for concern. 'The picture of a declining agricultural sector is symptomatic of the vulnerability of small economies at the mercy each year of increasingly ferocious hurricanes and of the other impacts of climate change, such a drought and flooding,' he continued. Much of the sector is now dominated by small producers who have limited access to finance, credit and insurance. 'And we are not sitting idly by,' he stressed, adding: 'Despite the assault on our economies by natural disasters, planning for the sector continues and food security remains the ultimate goal.' For many households in the region, access to food is a function of income. Income inequality in the region is among the highest in the world, which gives rise to inequality in consumption. 'The lowest 10 per cent of the population consumes only 8 per cent of the consumption of the top 10 per cent,' he said. The region's policies focus on the removal of non‑tariff barriers to intraregional trade, development of strategies to improve regional transportation and distribution networks. He also stressed the need to promote greater involvement of women and youth in the agricultural sector.
IVAN KONSTANTIN OPOLSKIY (Russian Federation) noted that progress has slowed in combating extreme poverty, putting several targets on the 2030 Agenda at risk. The international community should ensure the needs of the agro‑industrial sector, while taking into account environmental sustainability. The Russian Federation has focused attention on agricultural land reclamation and cereal management, donating some $2 million to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in 2018 for a project in that area. The country has also established State support for small farmers, including technical upgrade and digitalization. Adding that its exports have consistently increased, he said his country was number one in 2018 in global wheat supplies.
MOHAMMAD KOBA (Indonesia), aligning himself with the Group of 77 and ASEAN, said over 120 million worldwide are hungry, with stunting and low body weight an ongoing concern. He stressed the importance of revitalizing the agricultural sector to strengthen food security by increasing production, emphasizing the need to promote adaptation to climate change, especially among small‑scale producers. He also suggested developing new crops with enhanced micronutrition content. His Government must also address the issues of poverty, hunger and stunting at the household level. Food security, he stressed, is central to sustainable development.
MOHAMMAD GHORBANPOUR NAJAFABADI (Iran), aligning himself with the Group of 77, said that despite the application of unlawful and unjust economic sanctions, his Government has taken concrete steps to establish food security, especially in those areas affected by drought. However, those policies and programmes have been affected by the severity of the sanctions, which compound the effects of conflict and climate change. He stated those 'illegal acts' that adversely affect contributions to financing and maintenance of food security and called on those countries responsible to refrain from such shameful coercive measures. He asked the Secretary‑General to consider the effects of the misuse of the world financial systems by some global Powers.
The representative of Afghanistan said that his country has experienced high and rising levels of poverty and food insecurity, with a survey finding that 45 per cent of the population is food insecure. In addition to conflict, climate change is having a profound impact on the Afghan population's food security, manifesting itself in drought. A reduction in snowfall levels has intensified concerns, as the country's water sources primarily rely on rain and snow, he added. Even with these challenges, the Government remains committed to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, launching a food security and nutrition agenda, among other initiatives.
SUKHBOLD SUKHEE (Mongolia) said his country has taken proactive measures to improve agriculture productivity, producing more ecologically clean and safe food products, connecting farms to markets and improving food distribution systems. He noted that sustainable rangeland and pastoralism play a critical role in addressing environmental challenges, maintaining biodiversity and ecosystem services as well as other natural resources, and contributing to food security and socioeconomic development, especially to herders and local communities. Rangelands and drylands predominate Mongolia's landscape. Today, over 50 per cent of national range lands is degraded and 13 per cent has passed the threshold of recovery. His country attaches utmost importance to the sustainable rangeland management issues.
OMAR CASTANEDA (Guatemala), aligning himself with the Group of 77, said the problem of food security must be tackled holistically, as sustainable development depends on it. However, he emphasized that the right to food is the most basic human need and not solely related to the economy, involving issues of health, water access and social protection inter alia. Guatemala is highly vulnerable to climate change, unpredictable rainfall, temperature changes and drought, with many people trapped in a vicious cycle of poverty. He noted that markets often punish the small producer, citing the crisis of low international coffee prices. His country faces the double burden of chronic malnutrition in children and obesity in adults and is promoting attention to pregnant women and incentives for family agriculture. Praising initiatives by FAO, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO), he said the principle of leaving no one behind is all the more relevant given many may be affected for decades to come.
SAMUEL VICTOR MAKWE (Nigeria) noted that undernourishment is increasing in almost all regions of Africa, now affecting 20 per cent of the population on the continent, more than any other region. His Government has put in place appropriate policies, strategies and programmes to scale up efforts to end hunger and malnutrition in Nigeria. Through this policy, the Government is addressing a whole gamut of food-related issues, including agricultural education, research and innovation and ensuring quality control, access to improved seedlings and standardizing agricultural practice in the country. It is also enhancing nutrition‑sensitive value chains and diversifying household food production and consumptions. Observing that climate change is a present and growing threat to food security and nutrition and a severe threat to countries relying heavily on agriculture, he said climate variability and extremes are key drivers of the recent rise in food insecurity and one of the leading causes of the severe food crises that have affected the continent. It is estimated that by 2050, climate change will cause an estimated 71 million people to be food insecure in the world, over half of whom will be in sub‑Saharan Africa. This undermines food availability, access, utilization and stability with grave consequences for immediate and long‑term nutrition outcomes, especially for children.
FADUA ORTEZ (Honduras), aligning herself with the Group of 77, noted that from 2011 to 2017 65 of the 77 countries with increasing hunger suffered a contraction of their economies, 11 of them in Latin America. She said three‑quarters of the rural poor are active in agriculture, the world's biggest industry, responsible for 72 per cent of Honduras' exports and 14 per cent of its gross domestic product (GDP). She noted poor small‑scale producers confront structures that exclude them, necessitating a more inclusive market system and reducing excessive price volatility. The country must also safeguard consumer access to healthy and affordable food. Citing the cost of new digital technologies in least developed countries, she called for measures to make them more accessible. Her Government is implementing technology to address climate change including building greenhouses and improving irrigation.
KSHENUKA DHIRENI SENEWIRATNE (Sri Lanka), associating herself with the Group of 77, said that sustainable agricultural production is a key element of eradicating poverty and achieving zero hunger. Sri Lanka remains fully committed to enhancing sustainable production through its National Food Production programme and the Agriculture Sector Modernization Project with the aim of increasing food crops such as rice. 'Small holder farmers play an important role in promoting food security and promoting sustainable agriculture,' she added. Sustainable fisheries and aquaculture play an important role in promoting food security, while providing nutritious food. It also provides livelihoods to millions of people around the world, especially in island countries such as Sri Lanka. Among the greatest threats to sustainable agriculture, food security and nutrition is climate change. It is therefore essential to strengthen the resilience of food systems and agriculture production to adapt to the vagaries of climate change.
MASUD BIN MOMEN (Bangladesh) said farmers in his country harvest millions of tons of natural fibres from a wide range of plants and animals. In 2018, 32 million tons of natural fibres like jute, cotton and sisal were produced. The contribution of theses fibres to society and the economy has been vital to the lives of millions of people across the world. Many recognized scientific studies indicate that artificial fibres contribute to the environmental degradation of the planet. However, natural fibres are eco- and climate‑friendly and can play a significant role in enhancing actions against climate change. He expressed concern that over the past half century, natural fibres have been replaced in clothing, household furnishings, industries and agriculture by man‑made fibres like acrylic, nylon, polyester and polypropylene, as these synthetics are less expensive.
SOPHIA TESFAMARIM (Eritrea), aligning herself with the Group of 77, the African Group and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said 67 per cent of her nation's population lives in rural areas, making agriculture crucially important to their livelihood. Her Government adopted a food security strategy a decade ago aiming for people to have access to good, affordable food in all areas. She noted the need to overcome outmoded farming dependent on irregular rains, aiming to maximize land use and turning sloppy areas over to tree planting. Her Government has launched programmes for soil conservation, water harvesting and building microdams to transfer subsistence agriculture to irrigation farming, and recently launched a small and medium farm strategy to increase profitable production.
TEDLA GETISO (Ethiopia) emphasized that climate change is highly impacting food production, especially in developing countries. Noting that 5 per cent of his country's national exports come from agriculture, he said Ethiopia is prioritizing and intensifying modernization of the agricultural sector as well as rural development programmes. It has continued to implement rural development packages, resulting in an exponential growth rate in the agricultural sector and is addressing food insecurity through various programmes and projects.
LILIANA OROPEZA (Bolivia), aligning herself with the Group of 77, cited the importance of promoting the use of indigenous seeds and knowledge, saying States must uphold the rights of peasants working in rural areas. Peasants have a right to define and develop their own priorities and strategies. Most small‑scale farmers are women, but few have land deeds, and their land is often poor and infertile. However, she noted progress in that area, reducing the farming gender gap with over 1 million women receiving land deeds in 2017. Latin America and the Caribbean face severe challenge of climate change and developed countries should therefore come to their assistance.
PAVEENA SUTTHISRIPOK (Thailand) stressed that the sustainable use of natural resources is imperative to achieving of sustainable agricultural development and food security. Adding that soil is the source of 95 per cent of the world's food and an essential source of fresh drinking water, she said it has yet to receive due attention. Oceans and seas are another vital source of nutritious food and protein feeding nearly 3.2 billion people worldwide. However, unsustainable use of marine resources, especially illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, has become a major threat to ocean health, productivity and sustainable fisheries, affecting food stability of communities and future generations.
THANOUPHET XAIYAVONG (Lao People's Democratic Republic), aligning himself with the Group of 77, ASEAN and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said despite impressive economic growth over the past decade, his State has one of the highest rates of chronic malnutrition in Southeast Asia. His Government has adopted and implements a National Nutrition Strategy 2025 and a plan of action aimed at ending hunger and achieving food security and sustainable agriculture. He noted one‑third of its land is still contaminated by unexploded ordnance, hampering efforts to expand and allocate it for agricultural production. He added that much more must be done to address natural hazards, as the country has been affected by unexpected heavy rainfall due to tropical storms, damaging infrastructure, agriculture and livelihood.
COURTENAY RATTRAY (Jamaica), associating himself with the Group of 77, CARICOM and the Alliance of Small Island States, underscored the need for farmers to have long‑term, profitable market access and for young entrepreneurs to receive appropriate financing to set up micro-, small- and medium‑sized enterprises. There is also a need to address the affordability of the cost of inputs like seedlings and to curb over-reliance on imported agricultural products, especially those that can be grown locally. The vulnerability of the agriculture sector to external shocks, particularly the impact of climate change, remains a persistent challenge. In the last 25 years, Jamaica's agricultural sector has suffered direct losses in excess of $220 million from hurricane damage alone. Jamaica has sought to incorporate climate‑smart policies to secure the future of its food supply. Adoption of sustainable farming practices and planting of crops that can withstand erratic weather condition will enable the agriculture sector to provide greater and more consistent levels of support for the economy. Jamaica has introduced climate resilient practices into agriculture, fisheries, agro‑processing sectors and farm extension services into targeted communities.
The representative of Maldives, aligning herself with the Group of 77 and the Alliance of Small Island States, said climate change multiplies existing threats to food production. Inundation of farms by saltwater, drinking water shortages and impacts on fisheries illustrate the vulnerability of small island developing States. She noted that Maldives is a large ocean State with a mere 1 per cent of dry land scattered amidst 99 per cent oceanic expanse. The country relies on fish, especially tuna, as a primary source of protein, threatened by marine pollution, ocean acidification, rising temperature and illegal fishing. She renewed a call for the sustainable use and management of oceans and seas. With 54 per cent of the agricultural labour force and one third in fisheries composed of women, her Government has prioritized mainstreaming of gender into sectoral policies. Maldives is self‑sufficient in fish but highly dependent on imports for rice, wheat flour, fruits and vegetables.
The representative of Mozambique, aligning himself with the Group of 77, Group of Least Developed Countries and the African Group, said his State is strengthening its agricultural capacity by building infrastructure to link farmers and markets as well as agro‑processing and storage facilities. It is also financing smallholder farmers, especially for youth and women, which is one of the best ways to ensure integration of most of the population in the productive process, especially considering that women represent 80 per cent of Ethiopia's total farmers. Over the past 10 years, global warming has contributed to rain scarcity as well as the emergence of new pests and diseases with a negative impact on crops and animal production. In 2019, the central and northern parts of Mozambique were affected by two destructive cyclones, which claimed the lives of more than 700 people and destroyed more than 900,000 hectares as well as innumerable animals crucial for the rural livelihoods of people. At the same time, the southern part of the country lost more than 60 per cent of its crops due to an erratic rainfall season. The three disasters left the country in a state of dire food insecurity.
XU ZHONGSHENG (China), aligning himself with the Group of 77, said technology has eased the gap between supply and demand, but 113 million people worldwide still suffer from extreme hunger, mostly in rural areas. He called on the international community to strengthen support for developing countries, especially the least developed countries. His Government has rolled out recent policies on green agriculture, promoting rural tourism and preventing pollution. With 20 per cent of global population but only 9 per cent of its arable land, China must focus on effective and efficient measures to use it. His Government is also prioritizing poverty reduction in rural areas.