UN General Assembly Discusses Concerted Action to Tackle the Global Food and Energy Crises
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Srgjan Kerim, United Nations General Assembly President 18 July 2008: Addressing the UN General Assembly during its 112th plenary meeting, held on the global food and energy crisis, Srgjan Kerim, President of
the General Assembly, and UN Secretary-General Ban
Ki-moon urged coordinated action to tackle the three challenges of climate
change, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and the food and oil crises.

Kerim stated that the food and oil crises have been compounded by climate change and economic depression, and cited the UN Development Programme’s Human Development Report, which identified mechanisms through which climate change could reverse human development. Highlighting the
potential social and economic impacts of the crises, he urged the UN system to
play a central role in the coherent and coordinated response they require,
based on the Secretary-General’s Comprehensive Framework for Action on food
security. Kerim also called for member States’ full, continuous and high-level commitment to tackle the crises, noting that they provide an opportunity to renew the multilateral system. He
underscored the need for: changing global agricultural policies; eliminating trade distorting practices; reaching out to small farmers in Africa; and successfully concluding the Doha Round of
international trade talks.
Warning that the food and oil crises could undo
progress made to tackle climate change and achieve the MDGs, he stressed the
urgency for the UN General Assembly to adopt a Resolution
calling for immediate concerted global action. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon highlighted the exacerbating effect of
climate change on the ‘double jeopardy’ of high food and oil prices, which
threatens to undo progress achieved towards the MDGs. Recalling his statement
at the G8 Summit in Hokkaido, Japan, he called for a global response through
global partnerships in order to reach the MDGs, tackle climate change and
respond to the food and energy crises. He noted progress made by the international
community in this direction, including commitments made at the G8 Summit, the
adoption of the Ministerial Declaration of the Economic and Social Council, and
the mobilization of funds by UN agencies and partners, and urged stepping up
these efforts.
On future actions, the Secretary-General outlined: ensuring urgent
help for vulnerable populations; immediately boosting agricultural production
and increasing agriculture’s share in official development assistance; improving
fair trade and the free flow of markets; significantly increasing investment in
agriculture and rural development; strengthening global food commodity markets;
and reassessing subsidies and tariff protection for biofuel production.
Highlighting the costs of inaction, he called on the General Assembly to live
up to its responsibility to swiftly address the global food and fuel crises. [UN press release, 18 July 2008] [UNGA President’s statement] [UN Secretary-General’s remarks]

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