G8 Agriculture Ministers admit failure on hunger

Political leaders have admitted that they will probably fail to deliver on promises to halve world hunger by 2015, said international agency Oxfam at the close of a G8 Meeting on Agriculture in Italy today.

"G8 Ministers have made an extraordinary admission of collective failure. This would be a sack-able offence in any other arena," said Chris Leather, Oxfam International’s Senior Food Advisor. “The G8 has failed the world’s one billion hungry people.”

It now falls to Development Ministers, who are meeting at the end of April, to come up with concrete proposals to tackle the food crisis. These proposals must be agreed by Heads of State when they meet in July. “When leaders of the world’s richest countries meet in July they must put an end to the grandstanding and take concrete action to end hunger," said Leather.

The final communiqué from the G8 Agriculture Ministers meeting says the world is ‘very far from reaching’ the United Nations goal of halving the number of people facing chronic hunger by 2015. This is the closest Ministers have come to admitting they will not deliver on the Millennium Development Goal – one of the eight international development goals that 192 United Nations member states agreed to achieve by the year 2015.

An extra 150 million people have become chronically hungry in the last year as a consequence of high food prices, making the world total near to one billion people. Without urgent action the number will increase rapidly due to the global economic crisis and in the face of climate change.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture agency has called on world leaders to take action in order to eradicate world hunger by 2025. However setting a new goal will achieve little if rich countries fail to deliver on their promises.

Oxfam is calling for G8 leaders to commit to a legally binding international convention that aims to eradicate hunger. There is currently no way of holding governments to account for their failure to deliver on promises to tackle hunger. A legally binding commitment would enable civil society to hold governments to account for their failure to prevent people dying from hunger in a world where we have the means to prevent it.

Oxfam welcomes the G8’s commitment to agriculture and the need to boost food production by poor farmers in developing countries. However it is also calling for G8 countries to commit to favor and support the establishment of ambitious food and agriculture policies in poor countries that will increase food production and protect people in chronic poverty against shocks such as drought, floods, and market volatility.

Notes to editors

Contact information