26 June 2007, Strasbourg – Taking up the invitation of the President of the Council of Europe, René Van der Linden, FAO Director-General Dr. Jacques Diouf yesterday urged Europe’s
parliamentarians to meet the challenge of the fight against hunger and ensure to the most deprived – mainly the rural – decent living conditions.
Addressing the plenary session of the Parliamentary Assembly during the debate on relations between Europe and the Mediterranean Basin, Dr. Diouf began by recalling the nature of cultural and
economic relations between Europe and Africa.
“Without a particular and sustainable effort in the coming years by the international community to reduce poverty and malnutrition in Africa, the whole world will have to cope with painful
awakenings,” Dr. Diouf said.
He recalled that Europe is already host to one-third of all immigrants, one in four of whom has migrated illegally.
On trading relations in the agriculture and food sector, he urged the parliamentarians to make Europe react and join in the development assistance reform movement, putting agriculture back on
the agenda as a major challenge.
“Regional and international agricultural markets must be equitably organised so that the developing countries do not fall victim to increased liberalisation. The WTO negotiations are essential
to this end, and the “Aid-For-Trade” programme must enable them to develop a more competitive offering in terms of prices and quality,” Dr. Diouf stressed.
The challenges ahead
Turning specifically to the Mediterranean Basin, Dr. Diouf said that from the point of view of agriculture and food, the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean alone accounted for about 14% of
world cereal imports, even though the population was less than 9% of the world total, with projections indicating even greater import-dependency in future.
To address these challenges he recalled that sustainable, well-managed, dynamic and prosperous agriculture, with the capacity to produce food and help to stabilise the local populations, and
manage the rural world and the environment, was not the exclusive preserve of the developed countries.
Dr. Diouf told the parliamentarians of the Council of Europe that “the most fundamental human right was the the right to live, to exist, to biological integrity, which is not guaranteed to the
854 million of hungry in the world.”
“With your support, I am sure that we will be able to meet the challenge of the fight against hunger and ensure decent living conditions to the deprived who are mainly the rural,” Dr. Diouf