Vatican envoy to UN calls for investment in sustainable agriculture

 Archbishop Celestino Migliore, Holy See permanent observer to the United Nations in New York, participated on 2 July in the High-Level Segment of the 2008 Economic and Social Council, which was meeting to reflect upon the importance of addressing the development needs of rural communities. n his address, the prelate recalled how a recent resolution adopted by the Human Rights Council on the 'Right to Food' highlights 'the obligation of States, with the assistance of the international community, to make every effort to meet the food needs of their populations through measures which respect human rights and the rule of law'. "The roots of the current food crisis seem to stem from a series of concomitant causes. Short-sighted economic, agriculture and energy policies which caused a clash between the increasing demand for food items and the insufficient production of food on the one hand, and the increase in financial speculations on commodities, uncontrollable increase of oil prices and adverse climate conditions on the other". "While today's debate will rightly focus on the structural defects of the world economy and on the causes of the emergency, we must work to ensure that this discussion is accompanied by immediate and effective action. Failure to take action will result in this meeting being merely an exercise in rhetoric and procrastination of our responsibilities". "At the outset, immediate action must be taken to assist those in immediate danger and suffering from malnutrition and starvation. It is difficult to think that in a world which spends over 1.3 trillion dollars (851 billion euro) per year in armaments, the necessary life-saving funds to address the immediate needs of people are unavailable", said Archbishop Migliore. "In the medium- to long-term, the initial economic emergency aid must be accompanied by a concerted effort of all to invest in long-term and sustainable agriculture programs at the local and international levels. ... To this end, agrarian reforms in developing countries must be sped-up in order to give smallholder farmers the tools for increasing production in a sustainable manner as well as access to local and global markets". He concluded: "My delegation welcomes the recommendations of the recent High-level Conference on World Food Security held in Rome at the FAO. These recommendations offer a practical guide on how to deal with short- and long-term consequences of the food crisis and gives guidance on how to guard against future crises". Source: VIS