Written Answers. - Official Engagements.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

70 Mr. M. Higgins asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the details of the Government's attendance, submission and reaction to the recent UN Conference on World Hunger in Rome; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14812/02]

The World Food Summit, which was held in Rome from 10 to 13 June, provided an opportunity to review the progress made since the first world food summit in 1996, when the international community pledged to halve the number of people suffering from hunger by 2015. The Irish delegation to the summit was led by Mr. John Malone, Secretary General of the Department of Agriculture and Food. Ireland played a central role at the summit in its capacity as co-chair for the negotiation of the summit declaration. In its submission, Ireland focused on poverty reduction and stressed the importance of food security as a means of combating hunger. We made it clear that rapid and targeted responses to food shortages, together with supporting programmes which address future food security needs, would continue to be important priorities for Ireland's development assistance programme. We referred to the support which Ireland Aid was providing to a range of activities in the agriculture sector in sub-Saharan Africa, where subsistence agriculture is the main source of income for the rural poor and helps to ensure food security.

Underlining the Government's commitment to addressing global poverty, we drew attention to our undertaking that Ireland would reach, by 2007, the UN target of overseas development assistance expenditure amounting to 0.7% of GNP. The declaration adopted at the summit is entitled the International Alliance against Hunger. It renews the global commitment made in the Rome declaration in 1996 to halve the number of hungry in the world no later than 2015, and it calls on Governments, international organisations, civil organisations and the private sector to help in the achievement of this target. The declaration recognises that progress has been inadequate and that meeting the 2015 target requires a rate of hunger reduction of more than 22 million per year on average. It highlights as central elements in the fight against hunger the need for political will, the importance of overcoming challenges such as gender inequality, disease and standards of food quality and the need for adequate resources.
An important advance achieved at the summit was the decision to establish an intergovernmental working group to devise a set of voluntary guidelines to support efforts to achieve the progressive realisation of the right to adequate food. Ireland fully supports the commitments outlined in the summit declaration and will continue to work closely with the FAO and other donors to help achieve the target of halving the number of malnourished people in the world by 2015.
Question No. 71 answered with Question No. 16.
Question No. 72 answered with Question No. 20.
Question No. 73 answered with Question No. 47.