INTERNATIONAL FOOD CRISIS
Q. – France is the world’s second largest agricultural producer. What does she want to do to address the international food crisis? What measures should the international community take?
THE PRESIDENT – The international food crisis is a major challenge for the world. In the twenty-first century, we can’t tolerate a child dying of hunger in the world every 30 seconds, 25,000 people dying every day from malnutrition and 850 million going hungry. In the twenty-first century, we have to be able to feed the planet.
And I’ve no hesitation in saying that I think the world is paying a heavy price for not paying enough attention to food issues over the past few decades. The international community and international institutions must now remobilize and get to grips with the challenge. It’s the responsibility of all of us.
The food crisis calls for a twofold response. First, the emergency had to be dealt with and the international community has done so. France, for example, has doubled her emergency food aid for this year.
But we must also find medium- and long-term solutions. And this is what we’ve got to think about today.
In Rome, at the FAO conference in June, I proposed a Global Partnership for Food and Agriculture which will create the conditions for pooling the strengths of the international financial institutions, UN institutions, research milieux, NGOs, private sector and governments to improve the coordination and control of the international effort. But we must also improve our grasp and understanding of the food problems because a shared diagnosis is the prerequisite for coordinated and effective action. It was with this in mind that I launched, in Rome, the idea of an international group of scientists, on the model of what exists for global warming with the IPCC, with the aim of establishing an accurate diagnosis of the food and agricultural problems and alerting us to the risks of food crisis. I’m pleased to say that our G8 partners seem to be giving the idea a positive welcome. (…)
Q. – You support the move from the G8 to a G13 including China, India, Brazil, South Africa and Mexico. Could you expand on your idea for Japanese readers, since the Japanese government isn’t in favour of this change? How do you intend going about persuading the other G8 members? Would you like this item put on the agenda of the 2009 summit?
THE PRESIDENT – The G8 remains an irreplaceable forum for dialogue. But what I’m saying is that it has to adapt to twenty-first century reality, since on this depend its legitimacy and effectiveness. Clearly, when it comes to the major financial and monetary imbalances, development and the fight against climate change, the eight of us won’t be able to go on dealing with the issues unless the emerging powers, among whom China has a central place, are sitting round the table. We have to realize that the G8 States must share the responsibilities with new emerging powers.
This is why we can’t meet for two days as the G8 and just two hours as the G13. We can’t invite 2.65 billion inhabitants just to the lunch on the last day. This is why I have proposed devoting, at the very least, a whole day to the dialogue with the major emerging powers at the G8.
I am aware that not all the G8 States agree on this, but I would like us to pursue the dialogue, since the enlargement seems to me to answer an objective need to make the G8 reflect the reality of our era. It’s also, in fine, a necessity in order to establish the legitimacy of the G8 and its decisions in the eyes of our general publics. (…)./.