Cooperation and Solidarity Key to Millennium Development Goals
By Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser *
Of all the challenges of our time, guaranteeing food security for all is paramount, says the President of the UN General Assembly, Qatari Ambassador Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser.
UNITED NATIONS, NEW YORK, Dec 19 (Tierramérica).- Experience shows that South-South and triangular cooperation, backed by adequate funding, are key tools for tackling the development challenges of our time. But South-South cooperation only complements and does not replace North-South cooperation. All such partnerships are particularly pertinent given the challenges facing our global economy and sustainable development.
Of these challenges, guaranteeing food security for all is paramount. Around the world, almost 925 million people go to bed hungry each night, and most of them are in the South of the planet.
The world community has been able to reduce considerably the overall figures, but there is still much to be done now and in years to come.
Our resolve to look critically at strategies for battling food insecurity demonstrates our solidarity with these vulnerable populations.
United Nations outcomes in sustainable development, including climate change, biodiversity, and desertification, make it clear that we should be more vigilant.
We have to expand the search for innovative and sustainable solutions to food insecurity.
To that end, we can exchange lessons learned and showcase successful Southern strategies and technologies for, among other things:
One, improving agricultural productivity;
Two, increasing social protection and building up the resilience of the most vulnerable;
Three, managing fragile ecosystems;
Four, improving nutrition;
And five, combating diseases.
These approaches should contribute to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
We will also look at renewable energy sources and agribusiness models that are working to put sufficient nutritious food on the table.
Many Southern countries have lifted millions and millions of people out of extreme poverty and hunger.
These countries have at their disposal much knowledge and technical know-how that can be put to further good use through enhanced South-South exchanges of information, experience, and technology with a view to raising agricultural productivity and improving food distribution to benefit more populations.
For example, the Global Dry Land Alliance-Partnering for Food Security aims to strengthen cooperation among dry land nations. It has developed innovative solutions and best practices that can be shared broadly with dry land countries worldwide.
Another example is the African Union's Great Green Wall Initiative, the goal of which is to plant of a wall of trees across Africa, from Senegal in the west to Djibouti in the east, in an effort to tackle both environmental and poverty-related challenges, including land degradation and rising aridity and desertification.
Such initiatives are designed to support and complement efforts to achieve the MDGs, particularly MDG 1 - Eradicating Extreme Poverty and Hunger - and MDG 7, Ensuring Environmental Sustainability.
Through South-South solidarity we can also learn from countries that are reforming customary norms and practices to ensure that women are no longer denied equal access to land and other productive assets that contribute to food security. In doing so, women will be empowered and gain their rightful place in society.
Investment in agricultural research is another important area for South-South cooperation. It can help improve funding for research on tropical crops, on which millions of poor people in the South depend.
Partnerships to engage leading agricultural institutions in the Global South would go a long way towards strengthening the capacity of all Southern countries to feed their citizens, raise production capacities, and gainfully participate in food supply chains created to meet rising food demands in rapidly growing populations.
As President of the United Nations General Assembly, I am committed to promoting South-South and triangular cooperation as an important part of building a united global partnership.
Only such a partnership, based on open dialogue and mutual understanding, can enable efficient collective action in a globalized, interdependent world.
* Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, Ambassador from Qatar, is the current President of the United Nations General Assembly. Copyright IPS.