Tuesday, June 17, 2008

South-North Dialogue of Food and Energy Security opens in Geneva, 17 June 2008

South Centre and the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Indonesia in Geneva organized this joint event to assess the underlying causes and policy dilemmas related to energy security, food security and livelihood security and multilateral responses required to correct the systemic issues.

H.E I Gusti Agung Wesaka Puja, Charge d'Affairs, Permanent Mission of Indonesia to Geneva and Dr. Yash Tandon, Executive Director of the South Centre provided the welcome address. Ambassador Puja stressed the need for multilateral responses to multidimensional crisis such as that of food security while Dr. Tandon laid out the systemic issues underlying food crisis and which requires a rethinking of existing development strategies.

Opening remarks were made by Mrs. Lakshmi Puri, Acting Deputy Secretary General of UNCTAD and by H.E Ambassador Juan Antonio Fernandez Ambassador of Cuba to the UN. Mrs Puri described the food crisis as an urgent wake up call in the area of development while Ambassador Antonio Fernandez illustrated the negative impact on the realization of the right to food of the worsening of the world food crisis, caused inter alia by the soaring food prices’.

Session 1: Understanding the Extent of the Problem
Mr. Josef Schmidhuber from Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reminded the audience that food prices will remain high as long as oil prices remain high.
Mr. Mbaye Ndiaye from Permanent Mission of Senegal stressed that agriculture should be high in the economic agenda at the national and intenational level and adequate resources should be mobilized to help developing countries, especially the LDCs.
Ms. Umpika Poonachit, Permanent Mission of Thailand shared the policy responses undertaken by Thailand - as a rice exporting, middle-income developing country, to tackle the food security issue.
Section 2: Causes and Possible Solutions
Ms. Teresa Cavero (Oxfam) explained how decades of wrong policy prescriptions to developing countries and forced liberalization have led to price crisis. Developing countries were forced to let agriculture fall apart and then forced to open their markets which were flooded with cheap imports. Unregulated capital and commodity markets and push towards biofuels has fueled food crisis.
Over 80 people are participating in the event from Missions to the UN of countries of the North and South in Geneva, NGOs and other development agencies.