Page last updated at 23:22 GMT, Wednesday, 2 April 2008 00:22 UK

Bank urges 'new deal' on hunger

World Bank President Robert Zoellick (file pic)
Mr Zoellick said emergency aid alone was not enough

The World Bank has called on the international community to co-ordinate its efforts in a "new deal" to fight global hunger and malnutrition.

A move was needed because of soaring global food and energy prices, said the bank's president, Robert Zoellick.

Mr Zoellick said the top priority was to give the UN World Food Programme an extra $500m for emergency food aid.

The World Bank estimates 33 countries face potential social unrest because of rising food and energy prices.

As well as urging the US, the EU, Japan and other developed countries to provide the World Food Programme with extra funds for emergency aid, Mr Zoellick said the new deal required a shift towards a broader concept of food and nutrition assistance.

'Green revolution'

Funds to help build local food markets and boost agricultural productivity could create a "green revolution" for sub-Saharan Africa, he said.

Mr Zoellick also outlined a plan to encourage sovereign wealth funds from emerging economies like China, India and Brazil to invest in Africa, in what he called a "one percent solution".

The poor need lower food prices now. But the world's agricultural trading system is stuck in the past
Robert Zoellick

"Today, sovereign wealth funds hold an estimated $3 trillion in assets," he said.

"If the World Bank Group can help create the platforms and benchmarks, the investment of even 1% of their assets would draw $30bn to African growth, development and opportunity."

Mr Zoellick said trade was also key to lowering food prices, and that a fairer and more open trade system would encourage farmers in developing countries to expand production.

He criticised what he described as "protectionism" and "isolationism" including by his own country, the US.

"The poor need lower food prices now. But the world's agricultural trading system is stuck in the past," he said.

"If ever there was a time to cut distorting agricultural subsidies and open markets for food imports it must be now."

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