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A message from the Secretary General of the United Nations

Concern Worldwide’s Conference on Fighting Hunger convenes at a time when the unprecedented global food crisis threatens to get even worse. We face an immediate challenge to feed the most vulnerable groups today. At the same time, we face a generational challenge to ensure global food and nutritional security for ourselves and for our children. Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary General of the United Nations wrote this piece.

In addressing the food crisis, we know that the world faces many challenges simultaneously: an unfolding financial and credit crisis, higher energy prices, climate change, and the race to reach the Millennium Development Goals. That makes it

even more crucial that we respond to the global food crisis in a coherent, concerted and coordinated way – one that bridges the traditional divide between humanitarian and development assistance and tackles all aspects of food security.

We need not only immediate international support to food aid and nutrition assistance, but also a major reform of the food system. We need to ensure a wider range of available tools; eliminate impediments to the purchase and movement of food for humanitarian proposes; and build links between food assistance and local agriculture production. We need to improve investment in the productive potential of the planet’s 450 million smallholder farmers; increase food availability in poor communities; and use increased flows of public and private financing to integrate them into local and regional food markets. We need to address the weaknesses in global food markets and advance the debate on how global trade systems can work more effectively for low income countries

and their citizens.

Since the world woke up to the food crisis earlier this year, progress has been made in combating its effects. But even as some food prices have dropped globally, they remain generally far too high for the world’s poor. While aid agencies are working to scale up their efforts, opportunities for production in current planting seasons in some parts of the world have been missed, because of lack of resources to provide extra seeds and fertilizer. Meanwhile, in many countries, indications are that humanitarian needs will continue to increase. Though some policies have improved, continuing under-investment in agriculture and rural development will perpetuate food crises in years to come.

I applaud Concern Worldwide’s efforts to bring senior policy makers and activists together in the fight against hunger. The challenges ahead are daunting, but not insurmountable – if there is political commitment to work together to address both te effects and the root causes. I encourage you to move with renewed sense of urgency. The world’s poorest and most vulnerable cannot wait.

Ban Ki-Moon

Secretary General of the United Nations