The Rome Summit declaration a disappointment – all talk but not much action.

The Rome summit convened to address ” world food security and the challenges of bioenergy and climate change” has failed to reach any meaningful consensus. As a document, the declaration is stunning in what it does NOT say. (download the Pdf and read the final declaration at this link.)

The declaration posited that “It is essential to address the challenges and opportunities posed by biofuels, in view of the world’s food security, energy and sustainable development needs,” restating what we hoped was being discussed. So what was the positive outcome of all the debate into the biofuel problem?:

“In-depth studies are necessary to ensure that production and use of biofuels is sustainable.”

Yes, more looking at the problem into the future was the only mention of the the biofuel debate with no actual ways to tackle the problem beyond the “in-depth studies.” So much for the sense of a a global response beyond the self interest we had expected.

So much of the wording was about treating the symptoms rather than the root cause which was neatly side-stepped:

“We call upon all donors and the United Nations System to increase their assistance for developing countries, in particular least developed countries and those that are most negatively affected by high food prices”

“The first line of action is to respond urgently to requests for assistance from affected countries.”

“The second line of action is immediate support for agricultural production and trade. “

All very admirable but is this really “urgent and coordinated action” or just a very small and tentative step towards the real review and investment processes necessary to go any way toward alleviating world hunger, especially given the reduction in aid over the last six months.

The overall thrust was toward improving aid and agriculture and avoiding the contentious issue of the diversion of arable land toward biofuel production at the expense of food security.

In view of all the tiptoeing around the sensibilities of nations like the US and Brazil over biofuel production, the final statements seem rather hollow and lacking in any actual measures to tackle either “the challenges of bioenergy” or of “climate change”:

“We firmly resolve to use all means to alleviate the suffering caused by the current crisis, to stimulate food production and to increase investment in agriculture, to address obstacles to food access and to use the planet’s resources sustainably, for present and future generations. We commit to eliminating hunger and to securing food for all today and tomorrow.

Rome, 5 June 2008”

We still don’t know how. Disappointingly very little to show for all the talk.


A crabeater seal lounges on an ice floe near the Antarctic Peninsula. Crabeaters are the most numerous seals in the world, with a population over 15 million. While they do not eat crabs, they do eat krill and other crustaceans. They will reach a length of over 8 feet and a weight of 500 pounds.

Seal on ice

Photograph by: Jeffrey Kietzmann, National Science Foundation. Date Taken: September 2002.


~ by abstraktbiblos on Monday, 9 June, 2008.

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