President Barack Obama pledged Friday to end what he called the injustice of hunger and food insecurity.
Speaking at a symposium on global agriculture, Obama said that the roughly 1 billion people around the world who suffer from hunger and lack of long-term food security is a challenge that the world needs to address.
"After decades in which agriculture and nutrition didn't always get the attention they deserved, we put the fight against global hunger where it should be, which is at the forefront of global development," Obama said. "It's rooted in our conviction that true development involves not only delivering aid, but also promoting economic growth -- broad-based, inclusive growth that actually helps nations develop and lifts people out of poverty."
He added, "The whole purpose of development is to create the conditions where assistance is no longer needed, where people have the dignity and the pride of being self-sufficient."
Obama said that he believes the fight against global hunger and poverty is a moral imperative.
"As the wealthiest nation on Earth, I believe the United States has a moral obligation to lead the fight against hunger and malnutrition, and to partner with others," he said. "So we take pride in the fact that, because of smart investments in nutrition and agriculture and safety nets, millions of people in Kenya and Ethiopia did not need emergency aid in the recent drought."
The president added, "But when tens of thousands of children die from the agony of starvation, as in Somalia, that sends us a message we've still got a lot of work to do. It's unacceptable. It's an outrage."
In an effort to prod the international community to do better at combating global hunger and promoting development, Obama said he plans to use the G8 summit to announce a new food security and nutrition program.
"Donor countries -- including G8 members and international organizations -- agree to more closely align our assistance," he said. "And the private sector -- from large multinationals to small African cooperatives, your NGOs and civil society groups -- agree to make concrete and continuing commitments as well, so that there is an alignment between all these sectors."
Despite the difficult fiscal times facing the United States, Obama pledged that the country would remain a world leader in the fight against hunger and in promoting development.
"The United States will remain a global leader in development in partnership with you," he said. "And we will continue to make available food -- or emergency aid. That will not change."
He added, "But what we do want to partner with you on is a strategy so that emergency aid becomes less and less relevant as a consequence of greater and greater sustainability within these own countries. That's how development is supposed to work."
A new framework involving at least 45 companies pledging more than $3 billion, along with efforts to speed up developments in innovation will be part of the process, Obama said.
"But this is just the beginning. … We'll welcome other countries that are committed to making tough reforms," he said. "We'll welcome more companies that are willing to invest. We're going to hold ourselves accountable; we'll measure results."
He added, "And we'll stay focused on clear goals: boosting farmers' incomes, and over the next decade, helping 50 million men, women and children lift themselves out of poverty."
by RTT Staff Writer
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