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European Commissioner for Development
EU at the forefront of the fight against hunger
High-level event to launch Cooperation Frameworks for Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast and Mozambique / New York
27 September 2012
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The EU is and will remain at the forefront of fight against food and nutrition insecurity.
In recent years our commitment has been particularly strong, with the EU now the world's largest grant donor for food security, spending around 1 billion euro every year on food security, agriculture and nutrition. And now we intend to cement that leading role. We have recently updated our development policy through our "Agenda for Change", which places great emphasis on agriculture as an engine for growth in developing countries and recognises the vital role to be played by the private sector.
Furthermore, ever quick to respond to changing circumstances, we have recently strengthened our action in the Sahel and the Horn of Africa to foster resilience in those fragile regions through the SHARE and AGIR initiatives.
From the very beginning, the European Commission has been very supportive of the G8 New Alliance for Food and Nutrition Security. Why? Because The New Alliance and the European Agenda for Change are very similar because they are based on the following elements:
1/ We need commitments from both sides. This is fundamental because ownership is key for success. The choice of agriculture and food security as priority areas cannot be imposed from the donors. I am therefore particularly pleased to see the level of commitments taken by the pilot countries themselves. Similarly I am very pleased to see that the African Union and the three Rome-based agencies are fully on board. When you see such a level of commitment, it makes it very hard for donors not to match – as a minimum – the levels of commitments.
2/ We need a whole-chain approach. Investments must be made at each step, from access to seeds to infrastructures, from storage facilities to transport facilities, from training to safety nets, etc. Investing in one sector without investing in the other is a non-sense.
3/ We need the private sector. In development in general – in food security in particular – donors alone cannot succeed. We need a strong domestic private sector and a supportive international private sector. Opposing one versus the other is a non-sense since we need both to succeed.
4/ We need rules for responsible investments to ensure that smallholders, pastoralists and women benefit fully from investments, whether publicly or privately funded.
The EU has promised to strongly support the New Alliance and we will do so in two ways. Firstly, we have been very active in the six pilot countries; support to these countries in the area of food security since 2007 already exceeds 500 million US dollars. We will significantly step up our efforts in the coming 18 months so that total support for food security in the six pilot countries exceeds 1 billion US dollars by the end of 2013. Secondly, the EU has pledged 125 million US dollars in support of the New Alliance's enabling actions and we have already started mobilising these funds.
I am pleased to confirm that the EU has already been able to make good on the commitments it has taken in the framework of the New Alliance – so far we have taken a decision on a first contribution towards the implementation of the Voluntary Guidelines on Land Tenure and funding to the SUN movement should be ready by the end of the year. We are now identifying which actions should be funded by the end of 2013 for the rest of the amount. With regard to the Voluntary Guidelines, the EU has been closely involved in their development and negotiation – we have supported the process both politically and financially and we see implementation of these guidelines as a major step to improving equitable access to land by the poor.
The EU is also very pleased that it has been able to be of assistance to the Ivory Coast in preparing the Country Cooperation Framework. I would like to congratulate all those involved for completing this exercise and producing a document of such extremely high quality and ambition within such a short timeframe. You have done a tremendous job. Indeed, the work that has been carried out in all three countries demonstrates the strong interest that the New Alliance has generated among businesses across Africa and beyond. Moreover, it shows that governments are willing to work to create an environment conducive to investments – investments that will have a direct and profound effect on the food security and nutritional status of millions.
The Country Cooperation Framework itself includes ambitious, but realistic, commitments from government that, when in place will significantly boost the attractiveness of the business environment. This also seems to be the view of the many companies which have signalled their intentions to invest in the agriculture sector. EU commitments are not lagging behind either – between ongoing and planned programmes, EU support to agriculture, food and nutrition security is almost € 120 million since 2007.
Taking the particular example of bananas, the Commission has only last week approved the Country Strategy for the banana sector. We focus on improved competitiveness, sustainable management, village scale production and the development of local and regional markets. € 44.7 million will be devoted to the sector between 2012 and 2016. In Ivory Coast, this sector employs, directly or indirectly, around 30,000 people and we pay particular attention to promoting social and environmental issues, for example through improving housing and water supply for workers and forest regeneration.