UN chief tells Africa to capitalize on new climate change talks

Sirte- Libya (PANA) -- African countries must capitalize on the ongoing discussio ns on a new climate change agreement to negotiate for new funding commitments to fight climate change, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said in a mes s age to the opening session of the African Union (AU) Summit here on Wednesday.
In the message, read by the UN Deputy Secretary General, Asha Rose Migiro, the U N chief said Africa stood a chance of negotiating for new funding commitments to finance its agricultural needs while asking for the fulfilment of past pledges.
His sentiments were shared by the AU Commission Chairperson, Jean Ping, who said Africa suffered the most from climate change, yet was least responsible for the green house gas emissions blamed for worsening the effects of climate change.
Ban said the world was gripped by the most severe economic crisis in 60 years wi th food and fuel prices continuing to rise.
He said fighting climate change was key to increasing agricultural production, a dding that escalating food prices was a result of poor agricultural policies and the lack of appropriate policies.
He said progress toward the Millennium Development Goals remained too slow and t he scourge of non-constitutional change of government had returned to Africa.
He noted that coups in Africa were a thing of the past and that violent conflict s continued to affect lives of millions.
Ban noted that these challenges demand r esolute action from African leaders.
He also called for African leaders’ collective action to fight poverty on the co ntinent and use the summit to mobilize action to protect the poorest and vulnera b le and prevent more from joining their ranks.
According to him, the benefit of investing in agricultural are clear because agr iculture has been the cornerstone of development in every region and African liv i ng in urban areas has doubled since 1965 and 70 per cent of African still live i n rural surrounding depend on agriculture for their livelihoods, most at subsiste n ce levels.
He also said that agricultural investment created jobs and it could make economi c growth more durable and increase food and nutritional security, saying that ag r icultural investment could also have profound impacts on social equality by impr o ving the situation of women, who account for the bulk of smallholder farmers in A frica.
He pointed out that empowering the women smallholder farmer should be part of a broader commitment to ensure that women played leadership roles across the econo m ic, political, and social development fields.
The UN official noted that by some estimates, a dollar invested in agriculture i n Africa had a two or three time greater impact on poverty than the same amount i nvested in other sectors, saying that until recently, agriculture had often been neglected in national development strategies.
“About 265 million people in sub-Saharan Africa currently go hungry -- an increa se of almost 12 per cent over last year.
Children in sub-Sahara African are unde r weight for their age.
Malnutrition permanently stunt their prospects for surviva l , growth and long-term development, “ Ban said.
He said the already appalling situation was expected to get worse and the United Nations had projected that the rate of economic growth in Africa would be only 0 .
9 per cent in 2009, down from 4.
9 per cent in 2008.
Poverty as a whole will rise by 1.
2 per cent in 2009 compared to 2008.

01 july 2009 16:36:00




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