Page last updated at 11:50 GMT, Monday, 16 November 2009

UN chief urges unity over hunger

Ban Ki-moon: "There can be no food security without climate security"

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called for a "single global vision" from world leaders to address the problems of world hunger and pollution.

Mr Ban's comments came at the start of a UN conference in Rome aimed at stabilising world food prices.

He said the summit needed to co-ordinate closely with the UN climate meeting at Copenhagen in December.

The UN says one billion people are hungry and that food production must increase to feed a growing population.

The World Summit on Food Security comes a year after major rises in food prices caused chaos in many countries.

Mr Ban said both the Rome and Copenhagen summits "must craft a single global vision to produce real results for people in real need".

He called for a more co-ordinated approach to the issues, saying there "can be no food security without climate security".

"The food crisis of today is a wake-up call for tomorrow," said Mr Ban.

Rice farmers in Ahero, Kenya
A growing population means world food output must increase, says the UN

"By 2050, our planet may be the home of 9.1 billion people. By 2050 we know we will need to grow 70% more food, yet weather is becoming more extreme and more unpredictable," AFP news agency quoted him as saying.

"We must make significant changes to feed ourselves, and most especially to safeguard the poorest and most vulnerable."

The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has warned that if more land is not used for food production now, 370 million people could be facing famine by 2050.

'End greed'

FAO head Jacques Diouf told the summit that developing countries had made some progress in reversing the decline in investment in agriculture since prices hit record highs at the end of 2007.

But he said much of the money had not yet materialised and that amounts promised were not at the level needed.

Mr Diouf said the $44bn (£26.4bn) required for developing countries was far less that the $365bn (£219bn) that developed countries spend each year on subsidising their farmers.

He recommended that developing countries dedicate 10% of their expenditure to agriculture.

Pope Benedict XVI also addressed the opening of the summit, calling for an end to the "greed" of financial speculation on food prices.

He said hunger in the poorest countries should not be considered "a matter of resigned regret" and criticised unsustainable food production methods and aid practises which damage agriculture.

Graph showing how many people are hungry in the world

Critics say the summit may fail to set ambitious goals and have questioned whether it will be effective, as most of the leaders of the world's richest nations are not attending.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is the only leader from one of the G8 leading industrialised countries to take part.

Francisco Sarmento, of campaign group ActionAid, told AFP that the absence of other G8 leaders "doesn't signal they are serious about finding global solutions to hunger".

The BBC's David Loyn in Rome says the leaders attending the summit will try to keep the world focused on the consequences of the massive rise in food prices last year, which hit the poor hardest.

However, he says the summit is likely to be big on rhetoric but small on concrete actions.

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