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Diplomacy in Action

Remarks at Roundtable on Responsible Agricultural Investment

Esther Brimmer
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of International Organization Affairs
Washington, DC
April 25, 2010


Remarks as Prepared

Good afternoon. I want to thank everyone for participating in this important roundtable discussion. I especially want to highlight and thank the Government of Japan and the African Union Commission for joining with the United States to co-host this event.

As you know, the international community endorsed five core principles at the World Summit on Food Security in Rome. Included among these principles are a commitment to country-owned plans; an emphasis on coordination at all levels; and assurance of a strong role for the multilateral system. Events like the one we are holding today in Washington, and the announcement on Thursday of the new Global Agriculture and Food Security Program, show that we are committed to these core principals.

We are all aware of the enormous challenges ahead as we seek to eradicate hunger from the face of the earth. This collective approach focusing on country-owned plans is critical if we are to strengthen strategic cooperation, ensure coordination at the local, national, regional and global levels and meet our commitments to global food security.

Toward that end, it is encouraging, that over five months after the Summit, we see this distinguished group of international, multilateral and UN partners working together toward a common goal. It is also telling that we have foundations, civil society and private sector representatives in this room – you are essential participants and partners in this process.

As you know, in an effort to address global hunger, the G8 at L’Aquila committed $20 billion, including a U.S. pledge of at least $3.5 billion over three years, to promote agricultural development in developing countries. This figure was increased by the G20 at Pittsburgh to $22 billion.

The G8 and G20 commitments are critical to promoting agriculture in developing countries. We have to be honest – even with these extraordinary commitments by donor countries, there is nowhere near enough official development assistance (ODA) available to meet agricultural needs in developing countries in the short and long term. Therefore, in addition to domestic capital and ODA, foreign and domestic agricultural investment, especially from the private sector, is absolutely necessary to help developing countries reach their national food security goals and targets.

I want to touch briefly on several points that we believe are critical components to the goal of food security, and tie into our discussion today on responsible agricultural investment:
  • First, we need to ensure a comprehensive approach to Food Security, meaning investment in programs that achieve sustainable agricultural productivity, improve market access, increase incomes so the poor can purchase food, reduce under-nutrition and increase effectiveness of emergency humanitarian assistance by strengthening the capacity of countries to anticipate and prevent hunger related emergencies.

  • Second, we need to invest in country-owned plans, aligning our efforts with country-owned investment plans and strategies, reflecting broad-based stakeholder engagement and ownership and supporting results-based programs and long-term sustainable outcomes.

  • Third, and this is pertinent to our discussion today, we believe that large-scale foreign and domestic investment in agriculture must be carried out in an environmentally, financially, socially, and culturally-responsible manner. We need to be conscious and sensitive to those individuals with traditional rights to land and those individuals who work on it as well.

Before closing, there are many key stakeholders locally, nationally and internationally who work daily on global food security and are committed to the core principles adopted at the World Summit on Food Security. You all deserve enormous credit for your dedication and effort – especially as we discuss responsible agricultural investment.

Thank you again for this opportunity, we look forward to hearing from all of you, to hear about shared experiences, learn best practices and discuss new ideas. This event will serve to inform key stakeholders, particularly the U.S., UN and international community, NGO’s and private sector, as we work together to address the underlying causes of global hunger and under-nutrition.

It is now my pleasure to welcome Director-General Jacques Diouf of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.

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