Call upon G8 head of states to attend World Food Summit

Open letter Mr Jacques Diouf,  Director General, FAO

Dear Sir,

We are in the final stages of preparations for the World Food Summit that will be held from 16-18th of November, 2009). Important exchanges among governments and with Civil Society have taken place over the last months in attempts to make our response to the food crisis more effective. We are receiving signals that seem to indicate that the G8 will not send their heads of state to the Summit. This is a major concern and we call upon the G8 governments: take up your responsability, your economic and political strength gives you a major responsibility on this issue! In October of this year, during the meeting of the governmental FAO Committee in Food Security (CFS) a major step forward was taken: the reform of this Committee was decided by all governments, making it the central space in the UN system for the coordination of food and agricultural policies. La Via Campesina and many other Civil Society organisations have contributed to this process and supported in a very constructive way this necessary reform process. Also the industrialized countries, being part of the CFS, have participated in these discussions and supported the final reform proposal that was approved by the CFS on the 17th of October, 2009.

As Civil Society we have organized ourselves in a short period of time and are heading for a strong parallel Forum that will be held from 13-17 of November, 2009 in Rome. During this Forum we will formulate our contributions to the solution of the food crisis and we expect the full commitment of all our governments on this issue.

It is absolutely crucial that this reform receives the full support of the World Food Summit so that the CSF can start its work with the full support of the member countries. However, at this very moment signals are reaching us that the G8 countries may not be represented at the highest level in the Summit. Given the grave importance of the issue, this is a very worrisome developement.

If the G8 countries fail send their heads of state to this summit, are we forced to conclude that these countries are not really interested in an effective response to the food crisis? That they are not interested in a reformed CFS and an improved functioning of FAO and other UN agencies? We are reluctant to believe that this is the case and that these countries would be opposed to an effective coordination of food and agricultural policies in the UN system among all governments. We will be represented at the highest level and we expect our head of states to be there as well!

Yours Sincerely,

Nettie Wiebe (member of the Steering Committee of the CSO Forum for La Via Campesina)
Henry Saragih (International Coordinator La Via Campesina)

Jakarta- Indonesia/Saskatoon-Canada, November 10th, 2009