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Bank On Nature: Commission and EIB sign first loan agreement backed by Natural Capital Financing Facility to support biodiversity

The European Commission and the European Investment Bank (EIB) are announcing today the first loan agreement backed by the Natural Capital Financing Facility (NCFF), a financing partnership between the Commission and the EIB supporting nature and climate adaptation projects through tailored loans and investments, backed by an EU guarantee. Today's agreement will see Rewilding Europe Capital receive a EUR 6 million loan to provide support for over 30 businesses across Europe, focused on restoring and protecting natural areas. This will support and is in line with the upcoming Action Plan of the Commission to improve the implementation of the EU's Habitats and Birds Directives and is expected to create hundreds of new jobs. Karmenu Vella, Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries said, "Nature is essential for our lives, and our economy. The recent successful evaluation of the EU nature directives illustrated this. The Rewilding Europe project will be the first of many that the Bank on Nature initiative, building on the NCFF, will assist in our plans to create rural jobs and protect nature". The rewilding areas concerned are: Western Iberia (Portugal), Velebit Mountains (Croatia), Central Apennines (Italy), Southern Carpathians (Romania), Danube Delta (Romania), Rhodope Mountains (Bulgaria), Oder Delta (Germany/Poland) and Lapland (Sweden). A signing ceremony with Vice-President Katainen, Commissioner Vella and EIB Vice-President Taylor will take place today at 15.00 and can be followed liveon EbS+. A press release will be available at the time here. (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: +32 229 56172; Iris Petsa – Tel.: + 32 229 93321; Enda McNamara – Tel.: +32 229 64976)

 

EU's Official Development Assistance reaches highest level ever, with €75.5 billion in 2016

New figures confirm that the EU and its Member States have consolidated their place as the world's leading aid donor in 2016. With €75.5 billion in 2016, this constitutes an 11% increase compared to 2015 levels. The EU's assistance has increased for the fourth year in a row and reached its highest level to date. In 2016, EU collective ODA represented 0.51% of EU Gross National Income (GNI), having increased from 0.47% in 2015. Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, said: “I am proud thatthe EU remains the world's leading provider of Official Development Assistance – a clear proof of our commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. We call on all development actors to re-double their efforts to do likewise. And we do not stop there. Leveraging private sector investments, helping mobilise domestic resources and intensifying joint efforts with EU Member States, we seek to make the most of all financing sources for development." Read the press release and the fact sheet. (For more information: Carlos Martín Ruiz de Gordejuela – Tel.: + 32 229 65322; Christina Wunder – Tel.: + 32 229 92256)

 

First Vice-President Timmermans announces Commission plans to revise European Citizens' Initiative Regulation

In a speech this morning at the annual European Citizens' Initiative Day, First Vice-President Frans Timmermans announced the Commission's plans to revise the European Citizens' Initiative Regulation and further improve the use of this important tool. The First Vice-President said, "I want to make the ECI more accessible and citizen-friendly. I want the ECI to become a popular and living instrument, one that citizens are familiar with… There are obstacles to a more accessible and citizen-friendly ECI which have their origin in provisions of the ECI Regulation itself. We should take a careful look at those too… This process could culminate in a proposal to revise the ECI Regulation this year." The Commission will make proposals later this year, based on lessons learned in the five years since the Regulation came into force, and drawing on a public consultation to be launched before the summer. European Citizens' Initiatives were introduced by the Lisbon Treaty as a democratic tool in the hands of citizens. If a registered Initiative receives the signatures of one million citizens from at least seven Member States, the Commission must decide whether or not it will take the requested legislative action, and explain the reasons for that choice. In the first five years, the Commission has registered over 40 Initiatives, which have collected over six million signatures. Three Initiatives have reached the College of Commissioners for discussion after passing the one million signature threshold and two of the three have seen concrete policy actions in response, including in the Commission's 2017 Work Programme. More information on European Citizens' Initiatives is available on the dedicated website here. (For more information: Alexander Winterstein - Tel.: +32 229 93265; Tim McPhie – Tel.: +32 229 58602)

 

EU releases humanitarian assistance to Africa as needs grow

With an aid of €47 million, the EU will help support the most vulnerable in the Great Lakes as well as in Southern Africa and Indian Ocean region, who continue to face the consequences of years of conflict and displacement, as well as widespread food insecurity and natural disasters. Of this support, €32 million will go to populations in the Great Lakes region – including the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda, Burundi, and Tanzania, while €15 million will go to the Southern Africa and Indian Ocean region, including Madagascar, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Swaziland, and Lesotho. "We stand in full solidarity with the people of Africa. The assistance announced today will help the millions affected by forced displacement, food insecurity, and natural disasters in the Great Lakes region and in the Southern part of the continent. The EU remains committed to help people in need wherever they are and to leave no one behind," said Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides. Humanitarian partners in Democratic Republic of Congo, where more than 2 million people remain displaced by internal conflict and where malnutrition is high, will receive the main bulk (€22.7 million) of the funding allocated for the Great Lakes region. The regional impact of the Burundi crisis will also be covered. In Southern Africa and Indian Ocean, funds will go towards helping those affected by food insecurity caused by prolonged drought, as well as to strengthening capacities to manage recurrent disasters. The largest part (€6.2 million) of the package to this region will go to respond to the needs of the most vulnerable in Madagascar, which was hit by the tropical cyclone Enawo last month – one of the most powerful cyclones to have affected the country during the last ten years. (For more information: Carlos Martín Ruiz de Gordejuela – Tel.: + 32 229 65322; Daniel Puglisi – Tel.:+32 229 69140)

 

Capital Markets Union: Commission holds public hearing ahead of Mid-term Review 

The Commission is today hosting a public hearing on the progress of the Capital Market Union (CMU) Action Plan and to gather views on the next steps for this flagship project. Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis, responsible for Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union, opened the event in Brussels and Vice-President Jyrki Katainen will give a keynote speech. Panellists will include Members of the European Parliament, representatives from national governments, industry and supervisory authorities, as well as consumer and investor associations. Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis said: "The CMU involves a deep rebalancing of our financial system so we can offer more funding opportunities to our businesses and more investment choices for citizens. We have already delivered more than half of the first batch of 33 actions. We must now build on this solid start and tackle other barriers to cross-border investment. Today's public hearing is a welcome chance to hear views on how best way to achieve our policy goals". Building on the recent public consultation, today's hearing will inform the preparation of the CMU Mid-term Review, scheduled for June 2017. The programme of the conference is available here. The event is web streamed here. (For more information: Annika Breidthardt – Tel: +32 229 56153; Letizia Lupini– Tel: +32 229 51958)

 

Un rapport de la Commission montre comment la politique de Cohésion de l'UE peut aider les régions à faible revenu et à faible croissance

Dans ce rapport sur les régions de l'UE qui accusent un retard en matière de croissance ou de richesse, la Commission définit clairement les voies à suivre afin de soutenir des stratégies de croissance régionale avec l'aide des fonds européens. Le rapport évalue ce qui favorise ou entrave la compétitivité de ces régions et les raisons pour lesquelles elles n'ont pas encore atteint les niveaux de croissance et de revenus escomptés. Il identifie également leurs besoins en matière d'investissement - le capital humain, l'innovation, la qualité des institutions ou encore l'accessibilité - ainsi que les instruments de la politique de cohésion de l'UE susceptibles d'aider ces régions à construire leur avenir. La Commissaire européenne chargée de la politique régionale, Corina Crețu, a déclaré: «Pour chaque obstacle au développement, la politique de cohésion propose une solution. Des stratégies de développement régional sur mesure peuvent rendre ces régions plus attrayantes pour les habitants, les travailleurs et les entreprises. Voilà ce que nous faisons: nous aidons les régions à cerner leurs besoins et leurs atouts concurrentiels et nous leur fournissons les outils qui leur permettront de mettre en place de meilleures politiques». Un communiqué de presse et un mémo sont disponibles en ligne. (Pour plus d'informations: Anna-Kaisa Itkonen – Tel.: +32 229 56186; Sophie Dupin de Saint-Cyr - Tél.: +32 229 56169)

 

Concentrations: la Commission européenne autorise l'acquisition du Groupe Prosol par Ardian

La Commission européenne a approuvé, en vertu du règlement européen sur les concentrations, l'acquisition de Groupe Prosol par Ardian, les deux basées en France. Le Groupe Prosol est un distributeur au détail en France de fruits et légumes frais, de produits de la mer et de produits laitiers. Ardian est une société de capital-investissement. La Commission a conclu que l'opération envisagée ne soulèverait pas de problème de concurrence dans la mesure où les deux entreprises ne sont pas actives sur le même marché ou sur des marchés liés ou complémentaires. La transaction a été examinée dans le cadre de la procédure simplifiée du contrôle des concentrations. De plus amples informations sont disponibles sur le site internet concurrence de la Commission, dans le registre public des affaires sous le numéro d'affaire M.8442. (Pour plus d'informations: Ricardo Cardoso  – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Tsoni - Tel.: +32 229 90526)

 

Mergers: Commission approves acquisition of Hamburg Süd by Maersk Line, subject to conditions

The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of container liner shipping company Hamburg Südamerikanische Dampfschifffahrts-Gesellschaft KG (HSDG) of Germany by Maersk Line A/S of Denmark, subject to conditions. Both Maersk Line and HSDG are active worldwide in container liner shipping. The proposed transaction would lead to the combination of two leading container liner shipping companies. Maersk Line is the largest container shipping company, while HSDG is number nine worldwide. The clearance is conditional upon the withdrawal of HSDG from five consortia (Eurosal 1/SAWC, Eurosal 2/SAWC, EPIC 2, CCWM/MEDANDES and MESA) on trade routes connecting (i) Northern Europe and Central America/Caribbean, (ii) Northern Europe and West Coast South America, (iii) Northern Europe and Middle East, (iv) the Mediterranean and West Coast South America and (v) the Mediterranean and East Coast South America. On these routes, the merged entity would have faced insufficient competition after the transaction. Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: "Competitive shipping services are essential for European companies and for the EU's economy as a whole. The commitments offered by Maersk Line and HSDG will maintain a healthy level of competition to the benefit of the very many EU companies that depend on these container shipping services." A full press release is available online in EN, FR, DE and DA(For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Tsoni - Tel.: +32 229 90526)

 

Concentrations: La Commission autorise l'acquisition du contrôle conjoint de trois parcs photovoltaïques par Engie, Omnes Capital et Prédica

La Commission européenne a approuvé, en vertu du règlement européen sur les concentrations, l'acquisition des sociétés françaises PV Besse et PV Sanguinet par la société française Futures Energies Investissements Holdings contrôlée conjointement par les sociétés françaises Engie, Omnes Capital et Prédica Prévoyance Dialogue du Crédit Agricole ("Prédica"). PV Besse exploite un parc photovoltaïque à Besse-sur-Isole dans la région du Var et PV Sanguinet possède deux parcs photovoltaïques à Sanguinet dans la région des Landes. PV Besse et PV Sanguinet sont actuellement contrôlées par Engie. Engie est active dans les secteurs du gaz, de l'électricité et des services énergétiques. Omnes Capital est une société de gestion d'actifs indépendante. Prédica est active dans le secteur de l'assurance et fait partie du Groupe Crédit Agricole. La Commission a conclu que l'acquisition envisagée ne soulèverait pas de problèmes de concurrence en raison des chevauchements limités entre les activités des entreprises concernées au niveau de la production, de la vente en gros et de la fourniture d'électricité, ainsi que du développement de parcs photovoltaïques. La transaction a été examinée en vertu de la procédure simplifiée du contrôle des concentrations. De plus amples informations sont disponibles sur le site internet concurrence de la Commission, dans le registre public des affaires sous le numéro d'affaire M.8413. (Pour plus d'informations: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Tsoni - Tel.: +32 229 90526)

Mergers: Commission approves energy consulting joint venture between Siemens and Allgäuer Überlandwerk

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the creation of a joint venture between Siemens AG and Allgäuer Überlandwerk GmbH (AÜW), both of Germany. The joint venture is based in Kempten, Germany and operates under the name of egrid applications & consulting GmbH (egrid). egrid is currently solely controlled by AÜW. It will provide energy consulting services on decentralised electricity networks, primarily in Germany. Siemens has worldwide activities in several areas, in particular digitalisation, automatisation and electrification. AÜW is a local energy supplier and operator of a distribution network in Allgäu. The Commission concluded that the proposed transaction would raise no competition concerns due to the limited activities of the joint venture. The transaction was examined under the simplified merger review procedure. More information is available on the Commission's competition website, in the public case register under the case number M.8430.(For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Tsoni - Tel.: +32 229 90526)

 

Eurostat: La production industrielle en baisse de 0,3% dans la zone euro - En baisse de 0,2% dans l'UE28

En février 2017 par rapport à janvier 2017, la production industrielle corrigée des variations saisonnières a diminué de 0,3% dans la zone euro (ZE19) et de 0,2% dans l'UE28, selon les estimations d'Eurostat, l'office statistique de l'Union européenne. En janvier 2016, la production industrielle avait augmenté de 0,3% dans les deux zones. En février 2017 par rapport à février 2016, la production industrielle a progressé de 1,2% dans la zone euro et de 2,1% dans l'UE28. Un communiqué de presse est disponible ici. (Pour plus d'informations:Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Mirna Talko – Tel.: +32 229 87278; Maud Noyon – Tel.: +32 229 80379)

 


ANNOUNCEMENTS

Stakeholder Forum concludes the Commission's consultation on the future shape of the European Solidarity Corps *modified on 11/04/2017 at 19:30

Tomorrow in Brussels, a major Stakeholder Forum will bring together around 500 representatives of volunteering and youth organisations, other civil society actors, public employment services, national authorities and young people, to discuss how to further shape and consolidate the European Solidarity Corps. European Commission President Juncker said: "Every gesture of solidarity makes a positive difference to someone. Yet, if we bring individual acts together in a common European effort, a whole society benefits. This is what the European Solidarity Corps is all about. We have to cater for the different needs of our young people, organisations and communities across Europe. We have to ensure that everyone who wants to can take part. And we have to respect and make the most of the diverse cultures and traditions that make our Union what it is.” The Stakeholder Forum will focus on how to make attractive offers to both young people and organisations, how to ensure the Solidarity Corps functions effectively, supports participants' transition into the labour market and participation in society, and is open to young people with fewer opportunities. The Stakeholder Forum wraps up a broad consultation process involving a public consultation and a series of meetings with key interested parties. The input received will feed into the Commission's legislative proposal on the future of the initiative, to be presented in late spring. Already now the European Solidarity Corps offers volunteering opportunities, traineeships and job placements in solidarity projects across Europe. Since the launch in December more than 27,000 young people have registered. The database opened to organisations in March and the first participants already started their placements. The closing session of the Stakeholder Forum with President Juncker, the President of the European Parliament, Tajani and the President of the European Economic and Social Committee, George Dassis, as well as the opening session with Commissioners Oettinger and Navracsics and the President of the Committee of the Regions, Markkula, can be followed live via web-streaming. (For more information: Johannes Bahrke – Tel.: +32 229 58615; Joseph Waldstein – Tel.: +32 229 56184)

Johannes Hahn in Warsaw tomorrow for the Visegrad group Ministerial meeting on Eastern Partnership

Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, will be in Warsaw, Poland, tomorrow 12 April to participate at the Ministerial Meeting on Eastern Partnership organised by the Visegrad Group (V4). The meeting will bring together Commissioner Hahn, Ministers of Foreign Affairs from EU and from Eastern Partnership countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine). The participants will take stock of the progress on deliverables and will focus their discussions on priority projects, such as connectivity and economic developments.  Ahead of the mission, Commissioner Hahn said: "The success of the Eastern Partnership is based on our shared values. Our partnership aims to deliver tangible and visible results for our citizens; results that contribute to greater stability and resilience of the region. I am looking forward to participate at the Visegrad group Ministerial. In the last year, we have been advancing in priority areas - economic development, strengthening institutions and good governance, mobility and people-to-people contacts, and notably connectivity, but still more needs to be done. In Warsaw, I will stress that Eastern Partnership is and will remain our priority for the future." Videos and photos of the visit will be available on EbS. (For more information: Maja Kocijancic – Tel.: +32 229 86570; Alceo Smerilli – Tel.: +32 229 64887)

Upcoming events of the European Commission (ex-Top News)

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At Economic and Social Council Meeting on Taxes, Keynote Speaker Says Mobilization of Domestic Resources Vital to Transforming Countries

The financing of development expenditures in most developing countries was heavily reliant on taxes, a challenge to those lacking the capacity to collect enough revenue, the Economic and Social Council heard today as it held its annual meeting on taxes.

Patience T. Rubagumya of Uganda’s Revenue Authority, in her keynote address to the Special Meeting on International Cooperation in Tax Matters, said that in her country’s case 70 per cent of the structure of budget financing was collected from domestic resources with the rest coming from grants and loans.

“We are not very comfortable with that and would like to get to the point where we can fund 100 per cent of our budget,” she said, adding that the mobilization of domestic resources was vital to transforming any country.

Some policies were outdated and did not meet most current challenges, she continued, underscoring the need to look at domestic laws where amendments were needed to meet targets.  Treaties, often abused based on how industries were structured, were negotiated “way back” and did not include recent work done by the United Nations and Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

A lack of information about worldwide activities and the operations of multinational entities was also concerning, she said, adding that there was little data and analysis that could be used for transfer pricing.  Some entities had also created cash boxes in preferential tax regimes.  That eroded the tax base of developing countries through the payment of royalties and interest without substantial presence and value creation in those jurisdictions.  In addition, local staff did not have the experience or resources to deal with complex tax matters.

“It takes a lot of years to build expertize of staff who can handle international taxation matters,” she continued, underscoring the need to invest in building up the capacity of staff.

Uganda had just discovered oil and gas which brought with it a number of new challenges it was not used to in the past, she said.  It was important to change laws which were not clear on taxing.  On Internet transactions, she said current laws were unable to target those business entities.  There were still a lot of gaps, she said, calling for increased dialogue between countries and a balance between collecting revenue and creating an environment still attractive to investors.

Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, said today’s deliberations served to bring Member States up to date on the most recent developments in international cooperation in tax matters.  Convened immediately after the last session of the current membership of the Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters, today’s meeting offered an opportunity to reflect on major achievements and to look to future contributions.

The Committee had already reviewed and updated the United Nations Model Double Taxation Convention between Developed and Developing Countries.  To complement that, the Committee had produced a Manual for the Negotiation of Bilateral Tax Treaties between Developed and Developing Countries.  That training tool sought to provide guidance to tax treaty negotiators in developing countries, in particular those who negotiate based on the United Nations model.  It also dealt with all the basic aspects of tax treaty negotiation and focused on the realities and stages of capacity development of developing countries.

Taxation of natural resource extraction had a strong effect on countries’ ability to mobilize domestic resources, he continued, adding that the Handbook on Taxation of the Extractive Industries in Developing Countries, containing guidelines, would be launched in October.  The Handbook would continue to serve the purpose of correcting the asymmetry in specialist information and expertise between multinational companies and developing countries.

National tax authorities and ministries of finance in developing countries must develop more effective and efficient tax systems, he continued.  The United Nations programme of capacity development was carried out through the collaborative engagement of tax officials from developing countries, members of the Committee, other world-renowned experts, and relevant organizations and regional organizations.  It featured training courses, publications and other capacity development tools, with the focus on three main areas:  double tax treaties; transfer pricing; and tax base protection for developing countries.

Frederick Musiiwa Makamure Shava (Zimbabwe), President of the Economic and Social Council, recalled that the Addis Ababa Action Agenda provided a holistic and coherent framework for financing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  It had acknowledged that taxation was among the most important ways in which developing countries could mobilize resources for investment in sustainable development and recognized the globalized nature of business and finance.  There were limits to what countries could do on their own through domestic policies, so the Addis Agenda also emphasized the importance of international tax cooperation and the need to combat illicit financial flows.

Taxation was one of the most important ways in which developing countries could mobilize resources for investment in sustainable development and meet the ambition of the 2030 Agenda.  However, while strong development-oriented tax policies, modernized tax systems and efficient tax collection procedure were essential at the national level, they must be strengthened through international tax cooperation and efforts to combat illicit financial flows.

The Economic and Social Council and the Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters also held five interactive dialogues including:  “United Nations Model Double Taxation Convention between Developed and Developing Countries”; “United Nations Practical Manual on Transfer Pricing for Developing Countries”; “Handbook on the taxation of extractive industries in developing countries”; Promotion of international cooperation to combat illicit financial flows to foster sustainable development”; and “Strengthening Tax Capacity in Developing Countries”.

During a general discussion, speakers highlighted national and international projects and made suggestions for further improvements, including efforts to combat tax evasion, mobilizing domestic resources, ensuring developing countries’ participation in tax-related initiatives and a need for continued dialogue on tax matters.

Initiatives to eliminate financial havens to stem tax evasion and illicit financial flows would target those and related actions that were negatively affecting development, said María Carola Iñiguez Zambrano (Ecuador), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China.  Calling upon States, organizations and other stakeholders to contribute to those efforts, she said mobilizing domestic resources could help countries to achieve the 2030 Agenda.

Indeed, there was a need for informed discussions on tax matters in the context of sustainable development, said Lois Michele Young (Belize), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).  Her region boasted well-regulated financial centres and was committed to participating in tax-related initiatives.  However, much work remained to be done to assist developing countries so they could participate in those endeavours.

In every initiative, said Stefanie Ulrike Schmid-Luebbert (Germany), speaking on behalf of the European Union, all countries must have an equal voice.  Welcoming recent proposed initiatives, she provided a summary of the bloc’s efforts and the holistic approaches it was taking to tackle tax evasion and other matters.

Echoing a common thread, Ephraim Leshala Mminele (South Africa) expressed appreciation for the 2016 Council decision to hold such meetings on tax matters with a view to developing an intergovernmental mechanism.  However, he said, it was disappointing that obstacles that had appeared during the implementation of related initiatives had not been met effectively.  With regard to Africa, the estimated annual $50 billion of illicit financial flows could better be used for advancing development, he said, underlining the importance of closing loopholes and ending tax evasion.  When focusing on implementing the 2030 Agenda and the Addis Ababa Agenda, there was a clear need to swiftly update relevant policies and systems.

Also delivering statements were representatives of Egypt, Mexico, Paraguay, Brazil, United Kingdom and India.

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108 million people in food crisis countries face severe acute food insecurity – situation worsening

Photo: ©FAO/Albert Gonzalez Farran

A family compound in Terekeka, South Sudan.

31 March 2017, Brussels—Despite international efforts to address food insecurity, around 108 million people living in 48 food-crisis countries were at high risk of or already facing severe acute food insecurity in 2016, a dramatic increase compared with 80 million in 2015, according to a new global report on food crises released in Brussels today.

The report, whose compilation required integrating several measurement methodologies, represents a new and politically innovative collaboration between the European Union and USAID/FEWSNET, regional food security institutions together with UN agencies including the Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Food Programme and Unicef.

The dramatic increase reflects the trouble people have in producing and accessing food due to  conflict, record-high food prices in local markets in affected countries and extreme weather conditions such drought and erratic rainfall caused by El Niño.  

Civil conflict is the driving factor in nine of the 10 worst humanitarian crises, underscoring the strong linkage between peace and food security, says the Global Report on Food Crises 2017 report.

By joining forces to deliver neutral analytical insights drawn from multiple institutions, the report – to be issued annually - enables better-informed planning decisions to respond to food crises in a more timely, global and coordinated way.

"This report highlights the critical need for prompt and targeted action to effectively respond to the food crises and to address their root causes. The EU has taken leadership in this response. In 2016, we allocated €550 million already, followed by another €165 million that we have just mobilized to assist the people affected by famine and drought in the Horn of Africa," said Neven Mimica, Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development.

"The report is the outcome of a joint effort and a concrete follow-up to the commitments the EU made at the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, which identified the urgent need for transparent, independent but consensus-based analysis of crises. I hope this document will be a strong tool for the whole international community to improve the coordination of our responses to crises," added Christos Stylianides, Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management.

Most critical situations are worsening

This year, the demand for humanitarian and resilience building assistance will further escalate as four countries are at risk of famine: South Sudan, Somalia, Yemen and northeast Nigeria.

Other countries that require massive levels of assistance because of widespread food insecurity are Iraq, Syria (including refugees in neighbouring countries) Malawi and |Zimbabwe. In the absence of immediate and substantive action not only to save people’s lives, but also to pull them back from the brink of famine, the food security situation in these countries will continue to worsen in coming months, according to the new report.

“The cost in human and resource terms only increases if we let situations deteriorate,” said FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva. “We can prevent people dying from famine but if we do not scale up our efforts to save, protect and invest in rural livelihoods, tens of millions will remain severely food insecure.”

 “The numbers tell a deeply worrying story with more than 100 million people severely food-insecure, a level of suffering which is driven by conflict and climate change. Hunger exacerbates crisis, creating ever greater instability and insecurity. What is a food security challenge today becomes tomorrow’s security challenge,” said Ertharin Cousin, Executive Director of the World Food Programme. “It is a race against time – the world must act now to save the lives and livelihoods of the millions at the brink of starvation.”

 The 108 million people reported to be facing severe food insecurity in 2016 represent those suffering from higher-than-usual acute malnutrition and a broad lack of minimally adequate food even with external assistance. This includes households that can cope with their minimum food needs only by depleting seeds, livestock and agricultural assets needed to produce food in the future.

Without robust and sustained action, people struggling with severe food insecurity risk slipping into an even worse situation and eventual starvation.

Read More

108 million people in food crisis countries face severe acute food insecurity – situation worsening

Photo: ©FAO/Albert Gonzalez Farran

A family compound in Terekeka, South Sudan.

31 March 2017, Brussels—Despite international efforts to address food insecurity, around 108 million people living in 48 food-crisis countries were at high risk of or already facing severe acute food insecurity in 2016, a dramatic increase compared with 80 million in 2015, according to a new global report on food crises released in Brussels today.

The report, whose compilation required integrating several measurement methodologies, represents a new and politically innovative collaboration between the European Union and USAID/FEWSNET, regional food security institutions together with UN agencies including the Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Food Programme and Unicef.

The dramatic increase reflects the trouble people have in producing and accessing food due to  conflict, record-high food prices in local markets in affected countries and extreme weather conditions such drought and erratic rainfall caused by El Niño.  

Civil conflict is the driving factor in nine of the 10 worst humanitarian crises, underscoring the strong linkage between peace and food security, says the Global Report on Food Crises 2017 report.

By joining forces to deliver neutral analytical insights drawn from multiple institutions, the report – to be issued annually - enables better-informed planning decisions to respond to food crises in a more timely, global and coordinated way.

"This report highlights the critical need for prompt and targeted action to effectively respond to the food crises and to address their root causes. The EU has taken leadership in this response. In 2016, we allocated €550 million already, followed by another €165 million that we have just mobilized to assist the people affected by famine and drought in the Horn of Africa," said Neven Mimica, Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development.

"The report is the outcome of a joint effort and a concrete follow-up to the commitments the EU made at the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, which identified the urgent need for transparent, independent but consensus-based analysis of crises. I hope this document will be a strong tool for the whole international community to improve the coordination of our responses to crises," added Christos Stylianides, Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management.

Most critical situations are worsening

This year, the demand for humanitarian and resilience building assistance will further escalate as four countries are at risk of famine: South Sudan, Somalia, Yemen and northeast Nigeria.

Other countries that require massive levels of assistance because of widespread food insecurity are Iraq, Syria (including refugees in neighbouring countries) Malawi and |Zimbabwe. In the absence of immediate and substantive action not only to save people’s lives, but also to pull them back from the brink of famine, the food security situation in these countries will continue to worsen in coming months, according to the new report.

“The cost in human and resource terms only increases if we let situations deteriorate,” said FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva. “We can prevent people dying from famine but if we do not scale up our efforts to save, protect and invest in rural livelihoods, tens of millions will remain severely food insecure.”

 “The numbers tell a deeply worrying story with more than 100 million people severely food-insecure, a level of suffering which is driven by conflict and climate change. Hunger exacerbates crisis, creating ever greater instability and insecurity. What is a food security challenge today becomes tomorrow’s security challenge,” said Ertharin Cousin, Executive Director of the World Food Programme. “It is a race against time – the world must act now to save the lives and livelihoods of the millions at the brink of starvation.”

 The 108 million people reported to be facing severe food insecurity in 2016 represent those suffering from higher-than-usual acute malnutrition and a broad lack of minimally adequate food even with external assistance. This includes households that can cope with their minimum food needs only by depleting seeds, livestock and agricultural assets needed to produce food in the future.

Without robust and sustained action, people struggling with severe food insecurity risk slipping into an even worse situation and eventual starvation.

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Poorest Countries Leading Way in Combating Climate Change, Keynote Speaker Tells Economic and Social Council Forum, Saying Days of ‘Business as Usual Are Over’

The “clock is ticking” with no time to waste in forging strong public-private partnerships to stave off grave climate change consequences by using innovative solutions to build resilient communities and reach those most in need, the Economic and Social Council heard today.

Under the theme “Partnerships for promoting opportunities, increased prosperity and sustainable development for all”, the day-long Economic and Social Council Partnership Forum focused on addressing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Sustainable Development Goal 9 — building resilient infrastructure, promoting sustainable industrialization and fostering innovation.  Central to discussions was promoting infrastructure development, particularly in Africa, the least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing States, which faced the largest gaps in that sector.

The days of conducting business as usual were over, said Mary Robinson, President, Mary Robinson Foundation — Climate Justice, delivering a keynote address.  As world leaders had come to realize that climate change could not be tackled alone, it was in fact some of the poorest countries that were leading the way.  Inspired by their call for a new era for development, addressing climate change and leaving no one behind, she said the question now was whether countries had a choice between economic growth and sustainable alternatives in, for example, building infrastructure.  To answer that query, a new wave of infrastructure investment must provide a guide to supporting sustainable development.

However, she said, not all action that was good for the planet was good for people and climate justice needed to prevail.  Local communities must be consulted, she said, providing examples of renewable energy projects that had infringed upon rights.  To do so, partners from civil society could play a role.

She went on to say that strong partnerships could also help to meet the goals of the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement on climate change if they involved States, civil society and the private sector.

Amina Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, in a video message, stressed the urgency of the task.  “The clock is ticking and we have no time to waste,” she said, describing multiple global trends such as climate change, rapid urbanization and mass movements of people that were affecting communities around the world.  In fostering partnerships to address those and other concerns, critical elements included delivering results on the ground, providing effective financing and garnering significant private-sector investment.

Frederick Musiiwa Makamure Shava (Zimbabwe), Economic and Social Council President, said the fight for a healthier planet could only be achieved by joining forces.  “To achieve sustainable development for all, we are going to need strategic partnerships that will deliver strong results,” he said, underlining the importance of transparency and accountability.

Agreeing, General Assembly President Peter Thomson (Fiji) said securing a sustainable future would require letting go of old grievances and scepticism in favour of working together through new and inclusive ways of thinking, financing and delivering results.  “We must embrace partnerships as a fundamental part of the solution,” he said, adding that it was critical to explore ways to bring together stakeholders from Governments at all levels, the United Nations, international financial institutions, civil society, the private sector, academic and scientific communities, technology leaders and innovators, philanthropic institutions and grass-roots organizations.

During the day-long meeting, round-table discussions were held on “Innovative Partnerships for resilient infrastructure, including in countries in special situations” and on “Principles and guidelines governing United Nations-associated partnerships”.

Opening Remarks

FREDERICK MUSIIWA MAKAMURE SHAVA (Zimbabwe), President of the Economic and Social Council, said the fight for a healthier planet — one in which all people lived better lives — could only be achieved by joining forces.  Recalling that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development recognized the catalytic role of partnerships, he said the collective effort of all stakeholders would be critical in addressing the greatest challenges.  “I am of the view that to achieve sustainable development for all, we are going to need strategic partnerships that will deliver strong results,” he said, adding that transparency and accountability would be key.  Describing today’s Partnership Forum as a unique gathering of Governments, the private sector, philanthropy and civil society, he said he looked forward to a dialogue that would generate fresh ideas.

PETER THOMSON (Fiji), President of the General Assembly, emphasized the need for collaborative, multi-stakeholder partnerships to achieve the 2030 Agenda, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and the Paris Agreement on climate change.  It was critical to explore ways to bring together stakeholders from Governments at all levels, the United Nations, international financial institutions, civil society, the private sector, academic and scientific communities, technology leaders and innovators, philanthropic institutions and grass-roots organizations.  Drawing attention to several high-level events he had convened to drive implementation of the 2030 Agenda, he said the Ocean Conference, to be held at Headquarters on 5‑9 June, would be organized around seven partnership dialogues.  Securing a sustainable future would require letting go of old grievances and scepticism in favour of joining forces through new and inclusive ways of thinking, partnering, financing and delivering on the group, he said.  “Strategic and innovative partners hold the key,” he added. “We must embrace partnerships as a fundamental part of the solution.”

AMINA MOHAMMED, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, in a video message, said “the clock is ticking and we have no time to waste” amid climate change, rapid urbanization, mass movements of people and other global trends affecting communities and financing worldwide.  The 2030 Agenda had set the bar high and partnerships were key to supporting the Sustainable Development Goals and ensuring their success.  In fostering partnerships, critical elements included delivering results on the ground, providing effective financing and garnering significant private-sector investment.

Yet, she said, how those investments were directed would affect results such as job creation and addressing climate change.  Local, national and regional partnerships were equally important and young people needed to be empowered to become part of those widespread changes.  Promoting effective partnerships would entail including innovation and finding new ways to move forward.  “We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity and we can’t afford to fail,” she said, “but nothing is impossible when we work together in partnership.”

Keynote Address

MARY ROBINSON, President of the Mary Robinson Foundation — Climate Justice, said “we cannot just continue with business as usual” as a range of current situations were untenable.  Elaborating on some of those challenges, she said the Elders, an independent group of global leaders working for peace and human rights, had issued a strong message about famine affecting four African countries.  “Any country facing famine in the twenty-first century is an indictment against all of us and we should hang our heads in shame,” she said.  Also disgraceful was the ongoing war in Syria.  In addition, addressing the existential threat of climate change was another colossal challenge.

In 2015, she said, world leaders had, with the 2030 Agenda, demonstrated a clear understanding that no one country alone could protect its citizens from climate change and, with the Paris Agreement, had committed to adopting new approaches.  A new paradigm must be created to replace the current silo landscape to foster a global solidarity to reach the world’s most vulnerable people.  Recent waves of populism had been seen in many countries, but it was clear that taking climate action now was imperative.  The 2030 Agenda focused on reaching those most in need.  Some of the world’s poorest countries were leading climate action.  Inspired by their call for a new era for development, addressing climate change and leaving no one behind, she said climate justice was the antithesis of short-term thinking.  More carbon emissions were detrimental on many levels.  The question now was whether countries had a choice between economic growth and sustainable alternatives in, for example, building infrastructure.  To answer that question, a new wave of infrastructure investment must provide a guide to supporting sustainability.

However, she said, not all action that was good for the planet was good for people and climate justice needed to prevail.  Local communities must be consulted, she said, providing examples of renewable energy projects that had infringed upon rights.  Civil society was a key player in that regard.  Going forward, there was a risk that States could withdraw from commitments they had made and choose to work alone.  The same spirit that had been seen after the Second World War was needed now, she said.  A new level of consciousness was needed to rise above the challenges of the time and reach a common ground pursuing shared values.

Round Table I

The Council then held a round-table discussion titled “Innovative Partnerships for resilient infrastructure, including in countries in special situations”.  Moderated by Rajesh Mirchandani, Vice-President of Communications and Outreach, Centre for Global Development, it featured presentations by Moira Feil, Senior Policy Officer, Group of 20, German Federal Ministry for Economic Development and Cooperation; Symerre Grey-Johnson, Head of Partnerships, Regional Integration, Infrastructure and Trade Division, New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD); Marie-José Nadeau, Honorary Chair, World Energy Council; Zhao Huxiang, President of the International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations, Vice Chairman of China Merchants Group and Chairman of the Board of SINOTRANS; Cheryl Martin, Head of Industries and Member of the Managing Board, World Economic Forum; and Mahmoud Mohieldin, Senior Vice-President for the 2030 Development Agenda, World Bank.

Trevor Davies, Global Lead, International Development Assistance Services, KPMG, and Elliott Harris, Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) New York Office, spoke as respondents.

Mr. MIRCHANDANI said the discussion would focus on the unique challenges faced by countries in special situations in achieving Sustainable Development Goal 9 regarding infrastructure, industrialization and innovation, as well as the role of private-public partnerships in that regard.

Ms. FEIL described the Group of 20 as a partnership between a diverse group of countries, representing almost two thirds of the world’s population and 75 per cent of global trade.  Infrastructure had been a major part of its agenda for many years, with much discussion on such aspects as project preparation facilities, she said.  Genuine private-public partnerships required a balanced and good approach to risk sharing with all partners making informed decisions.  For smaller countries, regional approaches could be attractive, lowering transaction costs.  Within the Group of 20, consideration had been given to ways of narrowing the infrastructure investment gap and how multilateral development banks could optimize their balance sheets and make more funding available, she said.

Mr. GREY-JOHNSON said Africa had seen a number of private-public partnership success stories, notably in South Africa and Senegal.  There had not been so much success in regional projects, however, and that was where NEPAD came in.  Recalling the outcome of a financing summit hosted by Senegal in 2014, he said the private sector was only interested in properly prepared projects.  “Money will chase good projects and well-prepared projects,” he said.  With regard to gender mainstreaming, he said NEPAD had established a capacity-building fund that helped ensure that project design included a gender element from the outset.

Ms. NADEAU said private-public partnerships worked in large infrastructure projects when there was a revenue flow, fair sharing of risk and rewards between parties, in countries where the rule of law prevailed, with a pipeline of bankable projects, as well as the skillset required to design, build, operate and maintain projects.  With regard to gender, she noted a growing number of well-trained women in emerging economies and developing countries, as well as the need for social responsibility, training and mentorship programmes designed for women.

Mr. ZHAO said his company had a lot of experience with regard to private-public partnerships and promoting infrastructure, having committed big amounts to projects in African countries and developing a business model for ports and free-trade zones.  It felt quite positive about that.  In some countries, he continued, the public sector was more optimistic about projects than the private sector.  He also emphasized the importance of transparency as a way to build trust, and to think of projects in a more strategic way.

Ms. MARTIN said a true partnership meant understanding, trust and learning from each other.  If well done, it was a virtuous circle that would lead to conversations on such topics as gender diversity.  Projects, if done well, would benefit women.

Mr. MOHIELDIN spoke of addressing private-public partnerships from two perspectives — the wider approach, as a new way of doing business, and the narrow approach, meaning an investment modality.  Private-public partnership was not a panacea nor was it the sole solution in all cases.  With regard to the gender perspective, he said the World Bank used to treat gender separately, but now it was incorporated into project preparation, in line with a code of standards.  He described the Bank’s Global Infrastructure Facility and its Global Infrastructure Forum.  He added that, in Africa, perceived risk was much higher than real risk, but that many of the continent’s countries lacked transparency.  If there were better data, there would be more projects and better projects.

Mr. DAVIES said today’s discussion had been quite general and did not look enough at the impact on landlocked developing countries and small-island developing States.  He also noted a lack of urgency in addressing the effects of demographic change in Africa, where 140 cities the size of New York would be needed to accommodate a growing urban population.

Mr. HARRIS said the discussion seemed to focus on large-scale investment, which did not reflect the entire reality of infrastructure in the developing world.  In Bangladesh, for example, electricity was being introduced to 6.5 million households, one solar panel at a time.  Unlike a big energy project, that small-scale investment effort was getting clear and renewable energy to the people, consistent with the 2030 Agenda.

In the ensuing discussion, the representative of Japan asked the panel for their thoughts about using new technology for capacity-building as an alternative to dispatching experts to developing countries.

A representative of the International Road Transport Union drew attention to the absence of a commonly agreed definition of green finance.

The representative of Zambia, speaking on behalf of the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, said States faced a number of development challenges, including lack of access to seaports and high trade and transportation costs.  Resilient infrastructure had been recognized as fundamental to sustainable development, she said, adding that such infrastructure could support market access and poverty reduction while bringing countries into regional transport networks and global value chains.

Responding, Mr. MOHIELDIN said small was not necessarily beautiful when it came to infrastructure projects.  Noting how countries within a given group could have both many things in common and nothing in common, he called for more a country-specific understanding of requirements.

Mr. GREY-JOHNSON contrasted the sale and installation of solar panels with the need to ensure that everyone was on an electrical grid.  He also underscored the need to look at megaprojects with a transboundary reach and requiring private-public partnerships.

The representative of China drew attention to South-South cooperation, as well as his country’s One Belt, One Road initiative, which served to promote African and Asian infrastructure.

The representative of South Africa said North-South cooperation was still at the core of the global partnership for sustainable development.  The need for continued and increased official development assistance (ODA) was relevant and critical.

The representative of Maldives, speaking on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States, said small-island developing States needed resilient infrastructure and green industrialization that were in alignment with their national plans, policies and priorities.  She added that the public sector in such countries must be able to enhance and monitor private-public partnerships.

The representative of Nauru, speaking on behalf of Pacific small-island developing States, said access to infrastructure development resources was a constant challenge for countries in a region that faced rising sea levels and extreme weather events.  Appropriate follow-up and review mechanisms needed to be in place, he said, looking forward to the Ocean Conference and the partnerships that would be made there.

Representatives of Morocco, Republic of Korea, United Arab Emirates and Algeria, as well as the European Union and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), also spoke.

Round Table II

In the afternoon, the Council held a round-table discussion titled “Principles and guidelines governing United Nations-associated partnerships”.  Moderated by Gavin Power, Deputy Director of the United Nations Global Compact, it featured presentations by Craig Mokhiber, Chief of the Development and Economic and Social Issues Branch, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR); Vinicius Carvalho Pinheiro, Special Representative of the International Labour Organization (ILO) to the United Nations, New York; Olav Kjörven, Director of Public Partnerships, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF); Geoffrey Hamilton, Chief of Public-Private Partnerships Programme, Economic Commission for Europe; and Nancy Aburi, Lead of the Partnership Development and Network Support Private Sector Partnerships, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Speaking as respondents were Laura Petrella, of United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), Louise Kantrow, Permanent Observer of the International Chamber of Commerce to the United Nations, New York, and Pietro Bertazzi, Deputy Director of Policy and Global Affairs, Global Reporting Initiative.

Mr. POWER asked the panellists a range of questions, including explanations of how the 2030 Agenda had influenced partnership guidelines, how principles and guidelines were connected to impact evaluations and their plans for future endeavours.

Mr. MOKHIBER said the 2030 Agenda had shaken up the way things operated.  “This is not your grandmother’s agenda,” he said, emphasizing that the development framework mirrored human rights, with issues such as personal security and the administration of justice.  Such an ambitious agenda could not be successfully implemented without effective partnerships.  Evaluating impact through a human rights lens occurred at every step of the process, from selecting partners to examining components in the partnership’s structure, including gender equality.  That process went beyond reporting issues, but was about tracking responses and communicating about findings.

Mr. PINHEIRO agreed, saying ILO was a partnership in itself, promoting policies in favour of agreed upon outcomes in areas such as child labour and human trafficking.  Other partnerships included projects conducted with Governments on decent work, jobs for youth and other initiatives.  The 2030 Agenda also offered the opportunity to revisit and assess partnerships.  A general impact assessment should go beyond the core guidelines.  For instance, an ILO labour partnership had been assessed on specific projects by using tailored methodology.

Mr. KJÖRVEN said UNICEF was now assessing its partnerships, with multi-stakeholder ventures being favoured as a way to move forward.  A focus was also on public-private and civil society partnerships and how they could achieve results on the ground.  Yet, partnerships were not enough to achieve all the Sustainable Development Goals.  Using food as an example, he said reversing the current situation where children were obese from eating junk food, were developing diabetes and getting sick, partners needed to include farmers, those responsible for what went on the market and how waste was managed.  Equally important was a willingness to change, which was key to fostering effective multi-stakeholder partnerships and making progress on the Goals.  Whatever accountability that was built around partnerships must keep the Goals in mind.  “It was important to keep our eye on the ball,” he said.

Mr. HAMILTON said public-private partnerships had never formally been part of the development system.  Sensitizing the private sector was the starting point in building partnerships aimed at driving forward progress on achieving the Goals.  He said that he would appreciate it if the Organization could develop guidelines for external partners as “one United Nations”.  Development assistance was important in leveraging public-private partnerships and should be examined to improve results.

Ms. ABURI said that to deliver a successful comprehensive refugee response, partnership guidelines had been revised.  Currently, some partnership guidelines centred on fundraising.  In the 2030 Agenda, work needed to be done with new partners.  From a private-sector perspective, the UNHCR board could consider guidelines during the partner review process.  Furthermore, it must be easier to adapt existing guidelines.

Ms. PETRELLA said partnerships varied across many sectors.  Urban development was a multi-stakeholder endeavour that could include efforts such as urban planning, private sector and local governmental authorities.

Ms. KANTROW said the roles of the private sector and partnerships were beginning to gain attention in the development arena.  The 2030 Agenda and the General Assembly resolution on a global partnership for development had recognized that and, moving forward, efforts should centre on fully engaging the private sector.  The United Nations had guidelines using a principle-based approach and businesses had also developed their own.  Going forward, all guidelines should be reviewed towards achieving successful results.

Mr. BERTAZZI said principles and guidelines on collaboration of partnerships should include a number of elements.  Among them were a focus on impact, using a holistic approach that emphasized the connectivity between the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, and on transparency and reporting.

In the ensuing discussion, delegates shared suggestions and concerns about ways to create and enhance partnerships.  Some suggested that bolstering technology transfer initiatives would level the playing field for landlocked developing countries and others in special situations.  Others gave national examples of how partnerships had achieved progress in a number of fields.

The representative of Ecuador, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, underlined the importance of robust, effective and transparent public-private partnerships to advance progress on the Goals.  Welcoming progress that had been made to date, he said South-South cooperation projects should be bolstered.  Yet, South-South cooperation was a complement to and not a substitute for North-South cooperation.  Countries in vulnerable situations should be able to access technology transfers in a non-discriminatory way.  Coordination in engaging partners was important, he said.

The representative of El Salvador, speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), highlighted the significance of finding new ways of interactions between Governments, academia and the private sector in fostering the development of science, technology, innovation and technology transfers.  Developed countries must meet their ODA commitments, which could leverage and sustain financing for developing States.

The representative of Bangladesh, speaking on behalf of the Group of Least Developed Countries, said a robust, effective global partnership was needed.  However, partnerships should consider national situations, policies and priorities.

The representative of Morocco said the Goals required extended partnerships, with States being the “centre of gravity”.  A common vision was needed with a view to achieving the Goals.  Ensuring the effectiveness of partnerships was essential, as was improving existing mechanisms, bringing in new actors and accelerating dialogue between State, public and private stakeholders.

The representative of the Republic of Korea, speaking on behalf of a number of countries, said the United Nations was well positioned to assist the international community in realizing common goals.  In examining how to improve the current system, efforts should aim at streamlining processes in ways that better reflected realities on the ground.  Also important was using information technology and considering input from civil society.

The representative of Belarus said vulnerable groups must not be left behind.  For its part, Belarus had worked with partners to tackle human trafficking and organized crime, with one practical outcome being the creation of a trust fund for victims.

The representative of Denmark said existing partnership guidelines, such as those being used by the Global Compact, should be used and built upon while using caution to avoid adding layers of bureaucracy.

Also participating in the discussion were representatives of Maldives, Tajikistan, Grenada (on behalf of the Caribbean Community), Indonesia, Dominican Republic and the European Union, as well as United Nations Volunteers, non-governmental organizations and civil society.

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New Global Report Indicates that 108 Million People in the World Face Severe Food Insecurity

Despite international efforts to address food insecurity, around 108 million people in the world were severely food insecure in 2016, a dramatic increase compared with 80 million in 2015, according to a new global report on food crises released in Brussels today.

The report represents a new and politically innovative collaboration between the European Union and the USAID/FEWSNET, regional food security institutions together with UN agencies including the Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Food Programme and Unicef.

The dramatic increase reflects the trouble people have in producing and accessing food due to  conflict, record-high food prices in local markets and extreme weather conditions such drought and erratic rainfall caused by El Nino.  

Civil conflict is the driving factor in nine of the 10 worst humanitarian crises, underscoring the strong link between peace and food security, says the Global Report on Food Crises 2017 report.

By drawing insights drawn from multiple institutions, the report – to be issued annually - enables a more timely, global and coordinated response to food crises. 

The EU has committed around €8.8 billion to food, nutrition security and agriculture for the period 2014-2020. Of this amount, €525 million will be put aside to address food crisis.

In the last five years, the European Commission's budget for humanitarian food and nutrition assistance was on average around €540 million, peaking in 2016, at over €620 million.

Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides affirmed that, "This report is the fruit of a joint effort and a concrete follow-up to the commitments the EU took at the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, which identified the urgent need for transparent, independent but consensus-based analysis of crises. I hope this document will serve the whole international community, as we strive to improve the coordination of our responses to crises."

"This report highlights the critical need for prompt and targeted action to effectively respond to the food crises and to address their root causes. The EU has taken leadership in this response. In 2016, we allocated €550 million already, followed by another €165 million that we have just mobilized to assist the people affected by famine and drought in the Horn of Africa." said Neven Mimica, Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development.

Most critical situations are worsening

This year, the demand for humanitarian and resilience building assistance will further escalate as four countries are at risk of famine: South Sudan, Somalia, Yemen and northeast Nigeria. Other countries that require massive levels of assistance because of widespread food insecurity are Iraq, Syria (including refugees in neighbouring countries), Malawi and Zimbabwe. In the absence of immediate and substantive action, the food security situation in these countries will continue to worsen in coming months, according to the new report.

The cost in human and resource terms only increases if we let situations deteriorate,” said FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva.We can prevent people dying from famine but if we do not scale up our efforts to save, protect and invest in rural livelihoods, tens of millions will remain severely food insecure.

The numbers tell a deeply worrying story with more than 100 million people severely food-insecure, a level of suffering which is driven by conflict and climate change. Hunger exacerbates crisis, creating ever greater instability and insecurity. What is a food security challenge today becomes tomorrow’s security challenge,” said Ertharin Cousin, Executive Director of the World Food Programme. “It is a race against time – the world must act now to save the lives and livelihoods of the millions at the brink of starvation.

The 108 million people reported to be facing severe food insecurity in 2016 represent those suffering from higher-than-usual acute malnutrition and a broad lack of minimally adequate food even with external assistance. This includes households that can cope with their minimum food needs only by depleting seeds, livestock and agricultural assets needed to produce food in the future. Without robust and sustained action, people struggling with severe food insecurity risk slipping into an even worse situation and eventual starvation.

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UN, partners warn 108 million people face severe food insecurity worldwide

31 March 2017 &#150 Despite international efforts to address food insecurity, around 108 million people worldwide were severely food insecure in 2016, a dramatic increase compared with 80 million in 2015, according to a United Nations-backed report on food crises that offers benchmark for action needed to avoid catastrophe.

“The cost in human and resource terms only increases if we let situations deteriorate,” said UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Director-General José Graziano da Silva, in a news release on the Global Report on Food Crises 2017.

“We can prevent people dying from famine but if we do not scale up our efforts to save, protect and invest in rural livelihoods, tens of millions will remain severely food insecure,” he added.

Civil conflict is the driving factor in nine of the 10 worst humanitarian crises, underscoring the strong linkage between peace and food security, says the report.

The report represents a new and politically innovative collaboration between the European Union and USAID/FEWSNET, regional food security institutions together with UN agencies including the FAO, the World Food Programme and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

“Hunger exacerbates crisis, creating ever greater instability and insecurity. What is a food security challenge today becomes tomorrow’s security challenge,” said WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin. “It is a race against time – the world must act now to save the lives and livelihoods of the millions at the brink of starvation.”

"This report highlights the critical need for prompt and targeted action to effectively respond to the food crises and to address their root causes,” said Neven Mimica, Commissioner for EU’s International Cooperation and Development, noting that in 2016, the EU allocated €550 million already, followed by another €165 million that we have just mobilized to assist the people affected by famine and drought in the Horn of Africa.

This year, the demand for humanitarian and resilience building assistance will further escalate as four countries are at risk of famine: South Sudan, Somalia, Yemen and north-east Nigeria.

Other countries that require massive levels of assistance because of widespread food insecurity are Iraq, Syria (including refugees in neighbouring countries) Malawi and Zimbabwe. In the absence of immediate and substantive action, the food security situation in these countries will continue to worsen in coming months, according to the new report.

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