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Food Security Meeting in Rome highlights plight of World's Hungry

Ireland and the United States are joining forces at the FAO in Rome today to highlight the problem of child undernutrition.  In an event hosted by the ambassadors of the two countries at the Committee on World Food Security (CFS), Ireland and the USA will emphasise their commitment to building a partnership which will focus on nutrition in the vital first 1,000 days of life, from pregnancy to second birthday, and to supporting the Scaling up Nutrition (SUN) Initiative of the UN Secretary General.

Welcoming the event, Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Brendan Smith TD said "it is vital that we redouble our efforts to ensure that food and nutrition are at the top of the international agenda and that real progress is made in reducing hunger in line with the Millennium Development Goals.  Today more than 900 million people - 1 in 7 of the world's population - are hungry. Such high levels of world hunger are morally unjustifiable and compromise social and economic development, posing a threat to global peace and security."

The Minister said that the Irish Government was continuing to take every opportunity to place maternal and infant nutrition, and the vital role of smallholder farmers in food production in developing countries, at the forefront of the debate on international development.

The vision of the recently reformed Committee on World food Security (CFS) is to be the most inclusive international and intergovernmental platform for all stakeholders to work together to ensure food security and nutrition for all. The structure of the CFS now includes a High Level Panel of Experts, whose goal is to ensure the regular inclusion of advice based on scientific evidence and knowledge.  Ireland has traditionally been a strong supporter of the work of the CFS, including its recent reform.

Representatives from two Government Departments (Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and Irish Aid, Department of Foreign Affairs) as well as the Irish Ambassador in Rome, are in attendance at the CFS this week.

Ireland, in conjunction with the United States, will participate in a CFS event today to highlight the key issue of nutrition, particularly in the first 1000 days of a persons life.  This follows up on the initiative launched by Minister Micheal Martin and Secretary of state Hilary Clinton at the Millenium Development Goal Summit in New York last month.

These initiatives are focussed on the Millennium Development Goal to reduce by half the proportion of people who suffer from hunger no later than 2015. They underscore both Governments' determination to translate political dialogue into concrete programming to support highest burden countries in their efforts to address the problem of malnutrition. Key components of these initiatives include increased partnerships between governments, civil society, business leaders and the international community at large as well as the need to set clear targets and benchmarks through which progress can be measured. These initiatives demonstrate the conviction of both administrations that it is possible, in the five years remaining, to deliver significant and measurable progress on commitments to reducing the number of undernourished people to half their level, no later than 2015.

Date Released: 14 October 2010