|# Posted: 29 Nov 2008 18:17
Here is the full report - it was mentioned on the Alan Jones interview 27th Nov. States the importance of providing 'global food security' as a matter of urgency. Parts of the address are possibly relevant to the Save The Farm campaign.
Parts that may be relevant are bolded.
I have not seen any associated 'copyright' statement at the website so assume that the address is fully available for use as it is in the public domain.
Wednesday 19 November 2008
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Tony Burke address to United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, Rome, Italy
Mr Chairman, who I congratulate, Director-General Diouf, ministers and distinguished delegates.
It is my pleasure to address the 35th Special Session of the FAO Conference as Australia’s Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.
Today, the three biggest challenges facing the world are also fundamental to agriculture: climate change, the global food crisis and the global financial crisis.
For agriculture, the long-term challenge is to produce more food while we deal with climate change and increasing water scarcity, and work through the investment and credit challenges of the financial crisis.
There is no easy fix but, in Australia’s view, there are four crucial elements to the response:
• direct assistance
• capacity building
• increased productivity
• better trade flows
Direct assistance to improve global food security is vital as an immediate response. Since May this year the Australian Government has contributed more that $AUS100 million dollars to the international effort. This includes:
• $AUS50 million to the World Bank trust fund
• $AUS30 million to the Emergency Appeal of the World Food Program, and beyond our existing work
• additional assistance to Indonesia ($AUS6.5m), Ethiopia ($AUS10m), Afghanistan ($AUS12m) and North Korea ($AUS3m)
But direct assistance can only go so far. A longer-term solution means that we must also invest in capacity-building to provide countries with the means to lift themselves out of poverty and to come closer to feeding their own populations.
Agencies such as the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research do very important work with developing countries to help them with the technology to generate their own food supply.
We must also do our part domestically to promote increased productivity.
For Australia, any discussion of productivity needs to take account of the increasing challenge posed by climate change.Climate change presents a significant risk to the sustainability of our agricultural production, and this has implications for national and international food supplies.
The productivity of Australian agriculture will be affected by climate change through higher temperatures, longer and deeper droughts, more intense bushfires, reduced water availability, more extreme weather events, and the consequent spread of biosecurity threats.
Australia’s Farming Future is a major initiative which provides a multi-pronged approach to help build adaptable and resilient producers and industries and strengthen their ability to manage climate change while maintaining productivity into the future.
It increases our research and development capacity and uses training programs to get the best new technology from the lab to the farm.
Investment by governments and international partnerships in research and development is another key part of the productivity equation.
Today, we have improved technology – better farming practices, plant breeding and food distribution systems.But we are constrained by limited available agricultural land and shrinking water resources.
Governments must refocus on investment in agricultural research and development to boost productivity within the constraints of land and resource availability.
And we must not be afraid to look at GMOs. Food safety should remain of paramount importance, but we should look at this emerging science on a case-by-case basis and open our minds to the possibility that GMOs can be a piece of the jigsaw puzzle as we face climate change and food security.
Finally, it is not enough to produce more food. We must create an environment in which food can move more freely to where it is needed.
Australia, as a member of the G20, was heartened that G20 leaders this week recognised the critical importance of an open global economy to economic growth and prosperity, to lifting people out of poverty and to raising global living standards.
Leaders committed to strive towards a successful conclusion to the WTO’s Doha Development Agenda with an ambitious and balanced outcome.
Australia strongly believes that a more liberal trading regime can make an important contribution to alleviating the world food crisis.
Concluding the Doha Round will offer improved incentives and opportunities for efficient farmers in developing and developed countries alike to expand their output and supply the global marketplace.
The FAO has done much to raise international awareness about the problems facing countries affected by food shortages.
Today, a high-performing FAO is more necessary than ever.
We come together at this conference precisely because of the high expectations riding on the FAO, as the pre-eminent international agency dedicated to the eradication of world hunger.
Australia has always been a strong supporter of the FAO, and has been an active participant in its important and diverse range of activities.
We acknowledge the pivotal role played by the FAO in adding to the global research and knowledge base for food and agriculture for more than half a century.
Australia sees reform of the FAO as essential in enabling the organisation to continue to support agricultural research, development, and capacity-building into the future.
The FAO will need to be increasingly agile, with the structure and capacity to continually meet new and unforeseen challenges.
This includes the negotiations as we move to a new climate change agreement in Copenhagen. Those who work the land have more at stake than any other part of the economy in successfully responding to climate change. They have a unique interest in ensuring carbon accounting matches the science
A reinvigorated FAO will provide members, and particularly developing country members, with a reliable, fully-functioning global institution for the dissemination of research, skills and knowledge relevant to increasing agricultural productivity.
With prioritised funding and efficient programs, donors can be more confident that their contributions will deliver targeted results, ensuring maximum returns for recipients.
We need to support FAO activities that encourage sustainable, productive and profitable agricultural, fisheries and forestry practices.
A revitalised FAO, equipped with a modern management culture and practices befitting a global, 21st century institution, will be best placed to rise to the challenge of maintaining its role and mandate into the future.
Though much has been achieved, much remains to be done. The Immediate Plan of Action needs to be implemented as a matter of priority.
Australia remains committed to working closely with our fellow FAO members in achieving this goal.
The significance of the work the FAO and its member countries are doing cannot be overstated. The fundamental goal of every individual is to feed themselves and their families. If we get it right, the FAO and its members can do that for the world.
Reform has never been more important.
It is vital to meet the challenges that the world faces.
It is an opportunity we must embrace.