G-8 summit: show of arrogance or chance to end global food crisis?


The United Nations secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, has said the ongoing Group of Eight (G-8) summit in Hokkaido, Japan, is a chance to end the global food crisis.

In a statement released yesterday, the UN chief described the G-8 as an “unprecedented opportunity for global leadership to tackle the global food crisis that is plunging millions around the world into hunger.”

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, “We need the G-8 leaders’ commitment and political will. We need them to join a Partnership for Food, and take the political, financial, and economic steps needed to stop the global food crisis from deepening,” speaking in front of Hokkaido University students and faculty during the university’s “Sustainability Weeks,” which bring together activities on environmental issues to coincide with the G-8 summit.

To ensure that vulnerable populations are not left without urgent help in the midst of the crisis, Secretary-General Ban Ki called for scaling up food assistance and other nutrition interventions, increasing predictable financial support for food aid, reducing restrictions on donor contributions, exempting purchases of humanitarian relief food from export restrictions and added export taxes. “We may also need to establish a global reserve system for humanitarian food,” he added.

According to the UN chief, the Hokkaido summit is a potential turning point – an opportunity to initiate actions and policy shifts on food security, and ensure the focus stays on global food security over the next two G-8 presidencies.

Some of the G-8 leaders are on record for urging the reduction of an unnecessary demand for food. Ironically, their words may have contradicted their actions. It has been widely reported that on the first day of the summit, the G-8 leaders and their respective entourages consumed 24 dishes, with the dinner alone consisting of 18 dishes in eight courses including caviar, smoked salmon, Kyoto beef and a “G8 fantasy dessert.”