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. UN to press G8 on food crisis, climate change, poverty

by Staff Writers
United Nations (AFP) June 26, 2008
UN chief Ban Ki-moon said Thursday he would press Group of Eight (G8) leaders at their summit in Japan next month to tackle the world food crisis, climate change and the flagging fight against global poverty.

On the eve of his departure on a two-week, three-nation Asian tour, the secretary general said the July 7-9 summit in the northern Japanese resort town of Toyako must face the three inter-related crises which demand "our immediate action."

He said that before departing, he would write to each of the G8 leaders to lay out his concerns about the global food crisis, the need "to act now" on climate change if a deal to cut greenhouse gases is to be reached by the end of next year, and the emergency of development.

"If ever there were a time to act, together as one, it is now," he told a press conference.

Ban said he would appeal to world leaders in Toyako "to deliver on the measures agreed to in Rome earlier this month to end the current food crisis and prevent a recurrence".

These measures include a commitment by nations to remove export restrictions and levies on food commodities and cut agricultural subsidies, particularly in developed countries.

Ban said he would also propose tripling the proportion of Official Development Assistance (ODA) from wealthy nations to developing countries for farm production and rural development.

"To overcome this crisis, we need nothing less than a second, green revolution," he said.

And noting that the international community was falling behind in its goal of achieving the poverty-reduction Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015, he said: "If we are to deliver on this promised future, we must take steps today."

On climate change, the UN chief urged stepped-up bargaining to reach a new, historic deal in Copenhagen next year.

The treaty due to be hammered out in the Danish capital in December 2009 is meant to provide an action plan after the Kyoto Protocol's obligations to cut greenhouse gas emissions expire at the end of 2012.

The United States, which snubbed Kyoto, and developing nations, which have no obligations under it, agreed at a conference in December in Bali, Indonesia, to negotiate to craft the next treaty.

Ban said he would press the G8 leaders to agree "short- and medium-term targets" for reducing greenhouse gases.

He added that a fully funded and operational adaptation fund to help the world's most vulnerable nations cope with global warming must be in place by the end of this year.

The UN chief also warned that the combined impact of climate change and of the global food crisis were slowing and in some cases reversing progress made towards achieving the MDGs.

"In Hokkaido (the G8 summit) we must deliver on our commitments," he said.

"I will also seek increased funding for specific programs relating to infant and maternal health, community health projects and disease control, HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and neglected tropical diseases."

The G8 is made up of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States.

Ban's Asian tour will first take him to Japan from Saturday to Tuesday for talks with Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda and Emperor Akihito.

It will be Ban's first visit to Japan since he took over as secretary general early last year.

The UN chief, a former South Korean foreign minister, is then to visit China and South Korea before attending the G8 summit in Hokkaido.

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