Contacts: In Washington: Amy Stilwell (202-458-4906) firstname.lastname@example.org
Geetanjali S. Chopra (202-473-0243) email@example.com
WASHINGTON , April 21, 2008 – The following statement was released today by World Bank Group President Robert B. Zoellick in response to a letter from Japanese Prime Minister Fukuda calling for the food crisis to be put on the G8 agenda.
“I welcome Prime Minister Fukuda’s intention to put the food crisis firmly on the agenda of the G8 summit in Japan in July, and his request that the World Bank, the United Nations, and other international institutions coordinate closely to prepare joint action. We will be pleased to support Japan as chair of the G8.
Soaring food prices and their impact on hunger, malnutrition and development threaten to push 100 million people further into poverty. For more than 2 billion people, high food prices are now a matter of daily struggle, sacrifice, and, for some, even survival, with no apparent relief in sight. Malnutrition threatens to harm not only this generation but the generation to come. This is a test for the international community that we cannot afford to fail. We must make globalization work for all. Nowhere are we seeing this more clearly than in the issue of food where millions are now at risk.
Donors must act now to support the World Food Program’s call for emergency funds to fill what is an urgent financing gap. Without this money, millions will go hungry. For them, the international system will have failed.
Ministers from more than 180 countries meeting at the World Bank-IMF Spring Meetings recently endorsed a New Deal for Global Food Policy. This will require coordinated action over the short, medium and long-term: immediate support to the World Food Program’s emergency appeal; short and medium term support for safety nets, such as school feeding, food for work and conditional cash transfer programs. Over the medium and long term, support for increased agricultural production, a better understanding of the impact of bio-fuels, and action on the trade front to reduce distorting subsidies and trade barriers. Balance of payments and fiscal issues for countries most severely affected must also be addressed, and we will work closely with the IMF to support this agenda.
As an immediate response, we are working with partners in the UN to identify countries most in need so that, with others, we can provide concessional financing and other support where appropriate. We are exploring the creation of a rapid financing facility for especially fragile, poor countries, those with little margin for survival and little access to finance. We will also double our lending for agriculture in Africa over the next year to make sure that we address the need to boost supply.
It will be important that as an international community we coordinate closely, minimize overlap and attack the issue from a variety of different fronts to ensure support reaches where it is needed most, and that longer-term supply issues can be fully addressed.
These short, medium and long-term issues will be a critical part of international action. But let us first raise the money to meet the most immediate needs. The world can afford this. The poor and hungry cannot.”
Robert B. Zoellick.