Wednesday, July 02, 2008

In From The Cold?: World Bank President Robert Zoellick Calls Upon Rich Nations, Including Russian Federation, To Help Solve Man-Made Food-Fuel Crisis

"World Bank Group President Robert B. Zoellick has called on leaders of the G8 as well as the major oil producers to act now to deal with surging food and energy prices, warning that the world is now “entering a danger zone.”

Mr. Zoellick’s call is contained in a letter to the head of the upcoming G8 summit in Japan, in which the Bank, World Food Program (WFP) and International Monetary Fund estimate that about $10 billion is needed to meet short term needs of people hit hardest by the crisis.

“What we are witnessing is not a natural disaster -- a silent tsunami or a perfect storm: It is a man-made catastrophe, and as such must be fixed by people,“ Mr. Zoellick said.

“I urge the Group of Eight countries, in concert with major oil producers [the Russian Federation is a member of both groups], to act now to address this crisis." ...

World Bank "G8 Must Act Now as 'World Entering a Danger Zone,' Zoellick Says" July 2, 2008



A New Deal for Global Food Policy: A 10-Point Plan

Support immediate needs and dampen the worst effects of the crisis on vulnerable populations:

1. Continue to fully fund the World Food Program’s emerging needs, increase the flexibility of use of these funds (removing earmarked and tied aid), and support its drive to purchase food locally. Consider a partial UN assessment to meet ongoing increases in WFP requirements.

2. Support the expansion of social protection programs such as school feeding, food for work, and conditional cash transfer programs focused on the most vulnerable groups. Increase and/or front-load budget support to most vulnerable countries.
Provide financial and technical support to stimulate an agricultural supply response.

3. Ensure immediate provision of seeds and fertilizer for the most affected countries for the upcoming planting season; reform fertilizer policies to promote a mix that better matches soil conditions; provide technical support to improve production incentives. Launch a new commitment to agriculture in developing countries.

4. Double total aid to agriculture to support investments in rural infrastructure, water and irrigation services, agricultural extension services, and post-harvest management. Increase funding going to global agricultural research and development.

5. Create an enabling environment to stimulate private sector led-investment in agri-business across the entire value chain.

6. Encourage innovative instruments for risk management such as crop insurance for small farmers. Commit to re-examine policies towards bio-fuels in the G8 countries.

7. Agree on action in the US and Europe to ease subsidies, mandates and tariffs on bio-fuels that are derived from maize and oilseeds; accelerate the development of second generation cellulosic products. Take leadership at the highest political levels to coordinate across major exporters and importing countries and break the price spiral.

8. Call for the immediate elimination of taxation or restrictions on humanitarian food aid (certainly for WFP purchases); end export restrictions by key producers on shipments to the least developed countries and those in fragile situations; increase Japanese rice donations and exports; initiate discussions with China to increase its rice exports, or donations, to 2-3 million tons. Build a well-functioning international trading system that avoids the recurrence of such types of crises in the future.

9. Move swiftly with an ambitious Doha round with sharp reduction of producer subsidies and import tariffs.

10. Explore institutional options to monitor and share information on national stocks and global prices and determinants; explore agreement among the G8 and key developing countries to hold virtual ‘global goods’ stocks, perhaps for humanitarian purposes.

Source: World Bank July 2, 2008

Header Photo: Children in Somalia, Africa.

Photo credit: (c) With thanks.


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