Concerned by the increasing number of undernourished people and inadequate levels of investments in agriculture, leaders of 40 states and heads of international organizations such as UN agencies, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Trade Organization convened to unite efforts for hunger eradication.
Today, the leaders issued a first-ever joint G8-Africa statement, expressing their determination to build a stronger partnership to increase access to water and sanitation. They confirmed commitments for sustainable development, including development aid, climate change and peace and security.
The final G8 meeting in L'Aquila seated 40 delegations. (Photo by Alessandro Di Meo courtesy ANSA/G8)
The G8 met with Algeria, Angola, Egypt, Ethiopia, Libya, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, the African Union Commission and relevant international organizations. Leaders resolved to act swiftly to limit the impact of the global financial crisis on the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals in Africa. These globally agreed targets include halving poverty by 2015 by means of sustainable development.
The aid fund for Africa rose from US$15 billion at the beginning of the week to $20 billion after the G8 working sessions with the African countries, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi announced today at the final press conference of the L'Aquila G8 Summit.
The US$20 billion will be mobilized over three years through the L'Aquila Food Security Initiative in support of rural development in poor countries.
Leaders pledged advancement of the Global Partnership on Agriculture and Food Security, to keep agriculture at the core of the international agenda, relaunch investments and boost aid efficiency and in-country coordination.
"There is an urgent need for decisive action to free humankind from hunger and poverty," the leaders said in the L'Aquila Joint Statement on Global Food Security. "Food security, nutrition and sustainable agriculture must remain a priority issue on the political agenda, to be addressed through a cross-cutting and inclusive approach, involving all relevant stakeholders, at global, regional and national level. Effective food security actions must be coupled with adaptation and mitigation measures in relation to climate change, sustainable management of water, land, soil and other natural resources, including the protection of biodiversity."
Foreground, U.S. President Barack Obama and Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi during the leaders' final working session on the last day of G8 Summit. (Photo by Alessandro Di Meo courtesy ANSA-G8)
By helping the world's hungry, who now number one billion, the international community can also secure a more peaceful and stable future for all, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the G8 leaders in L'Aquila.
Ban said that last year's major spike in food and energy prices affected hundreds of millions of people. "It amplified suffering, hardship and political unrest. We lost ground in our race to reach the first Millennium Development Goal,” he said.
Ban said the situation is getting worse with today's volatile markets, breakdown in world trade, climate change effects and falling income from job losses.
"We need to do more, faster. The food crisis is permanently harming millions of children. They need our help. This is about even more than alleviating human suffering; it is about global peace and stability.”
UN agencies are welcoming the G8's food security initiative, with the head of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization saying it signals an "encouraging shift of policy” in favor of helping the poor and hungry to produce their own food.
FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf voiced confidence that G8 leaders will translate their pledge into concrete action "not only for natural ethical considerations but also for sound economic reasons and, last but not least, to ensure peace and security in the world,” he told the summit.
Prime Minister Berlusconi emphasized that the G8 agreement on the climate had been a "great success” scored by the L'Aquila Summit, highlighting the "major advances” that had come from countries like China and India, which had been prepared to give a number of concrete undertakings.
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is pleased with the accomplishments of the L'Aquila G8 Summit. (Photo by Livio Anticoli courtesy PCM-G8)
Berlusconi also stressed the change of policy on the climate made by the new U.S. administration, which now wants to join forces with Europe to fight global warming.
In his final press conference, U.S. President Barack Obama said, "We took groundbreaking steps forward to address the threat of climate change in our time. The G8 nations agreed that by 2050, we'll reduce our emissions by 80 percent and that we'll work with all nations to cut global emissions in half."
"And 17 of the world's leading economies - both developed and developing nations alike - made unprecedented commitments to reduce their emissions and made significant progress on finance, adaptation, and technology issues," Obama said.
"We did not reach agreement on every issue and we still have much work ahead on climate change, but these achievements are highly meaningful and they'll generate significant momentum as we head into the talks at Copenhagen and beyond," the U.S. President said.
The G8 also agreed to historic measures that Obama said "will help stop the spread of nuclear weapons, and move us closer to the long-term goal of a world without nuclear weapons."
In Prague in April, Obama outlined a strategy for moving the world in that direction. This week the G8 "embraced" that strategy, Obama said.
U.S. President Barack Obama at his final G8 press conference (Photo by Ettore Ferrari courtesy ANSA-G8)
"It includes measures to strengthen the Non-Proliferation Treaty; to encourage nations to meet their arms control, disarmament, and non-proliferation commitments; and to secure nuclear weapons and vulnerable nuclear materials so they don't fall into the hands of terrorists," Obama said today.
Obama invited leaders from the broader group of nations here to attend a Global Nuclear Summit that he will host in Washington in March 2010. There, he said, nations "will discuss steps we can take to secure loose nuclear materials; combat smuggling; and deter, detect, and disrupt attempts at nuclear terrorism."
Finally, the G8 agreed to reevaluate Iran's posture towards negotiating the cessation of a nuclear weapons policy. "We'll evaluate that at the G20 meeting in September," Obama said.
"The international community has said, here's a door you can walk through that allows you to lessen tensions and more fully join the international community. If Iran chooses not to walk through that door, then you have on record the G8, to begin with, but I think potentially a lot of other countries, are going to say we need to take further steps."
"And that's been always our premise, is that we provide that door, but we also say we're not going to just wait indefinitely and allow for the development of a nuclear weapon, the breach of international treaties, and wake up one day and find ourselves in a much worse situation and unable to act," said Obama. "So my hope is that the Iranian leadership will look at the statement coming out of the G8 and recognize that world opinion is clear."
Copyright Environment News Service, ENS, 2009. All rights reserved.