Rome Declaration on Hunger
|Adopted by The
World Food Day Colloquium held in Rome, Italy in October 1982|
We, the participants in the World Food Day Colloquium held in Rome in October 1982,
have assessed food problems and prospects in the context of the world economic situation
and adopted the following Declaration.
We believe that it is indeed possible to end world hunger by the year 2000. More than
ever before, humanity possesses the resources, capital, technology and knowledge
to promote development and to feed all people, both now and in the foreseeable
future. By the year 2000 the entire world population can be fed and nourished.
Only a modest expenditure is needed each year – a tiny fraction of total military expenditure,
which amounts to about $650 billion a year. What is required is the political
will to put first things first and to give absolute priority to freedom from
hunger. This is the challenge which faces peoples and their governments. We call
upon them to meet the challenge and to start now.
While recognizing the complexities and difficulties of the task, we emphasize that
hope can replace despair and positive action replace negative pessimism.
We are aware that the international scene is characterized by deep recession, mounting
unemployment and increasing tensions. While we do not underestimate the seriousness of difficulties facing industrialized
countries, the plight of most developing countries is even more dramatic.
Stagnation or decline in growth rates, falling commodity prices, adverse terms of
trade, high interest rates and growing external debt aggravate the problems of
poverty and hunger.
There has been a dangerous decline in international cooperation for development,
precisely at the time when such cooperation is most needed. Retreat from multilateral
development cooperation and strong trends towards bilateralism or even unilateral action accentuate the division on
the world, a phenomenon which has led to major world conflicts in the past.
Against this sombre background we took stock of the food situation of developing
countries. While some have succeeded in increasing food production faster than
population, many more have not been able to do so and hunger and malnutrition
continue to afflict hundreds of millions of men, women and children.
The central importance of food stands endorsed on many occasions, most categorically
and emphatically in Article 11 of the Covenant of Economic, Social and Cultural
Rights which states that: "Parties to the present Covenant, recognizing the fundamental
right of everyone to be free from hunger, shall take, individually and through
international cooperation, the measures, including specific programmes, which are
needed to improve methods of production, conservation and distribution of food...".
We are convinced by the evidence assembled by FAO in its valuable study "Agriculture:
Toward 2000" and by other authoritative studies that a continuation of present
policies and attitudes could prolong the shame of chronic and widespread hunger
into the twenty-first century. That is why this challenge must be met.
The prospect of persistent and ever-growing inequality between and within nations,
of which hunger is one manifestation, can lead to violence and political destabilization,
as evidenced by recent experience.
The objective solemnly declared in 1974 by the World Food Conference of eradicating
hunger and malnutrition by 1985 is far from being achieved. We feel that
even the more modest objective adopted in 1980 by the UN General Assembly for
the Third United Nations Development Decade of eliminating hunger and malnutrition
"as soon as possible and certainly by the end of this century" may not be
realised if present trends continue.
We note with satisfaction that international agreement exists as to the priority character
and huge dimensions of the world food problem and that basic guidelines for national
and international action have been accepted by the international community.
What is needed now is action in line with commitments and pledges made or reiterated
at successive high-level conferences.
The serious hunger problem in South and Southeast Asia and the dramatically deteriorating
food situation in sub-Saharan Africa deserve the urgent and substantial support of the international community.
We are convinced that a major and concerted global effort to accelerate growth
in developing countries, especially the less developed among them is urgently
needed. A much higher priority to food production, as well as sustained efforts towards
greater equity, is in the common interest of all people and all nations and is
the only long-term solution.
Resumption of the momentum of growth in the industrialized world through appropriate
policies is urgently needed. We are persuaded that accelerated growth in developing
countries must play an important role in support of sound expansionary policies
of the world economy.
We urge, as an overall target, that food production in developing countries should
be at least doubled over the next two decades so as to make them self-reliant in basic
foods. Their Governments should define or review existing food policy goals, assign
high priority to food and agriculture and, in order to meet growing demands
and redress imbalances, allocate sufficient resources to the sector.
Farming should be progressively modernized and intensified on the basis of sustained
research efforts – national, regional and inter national – focussing on the productivity
of food crops. Adequate incentives, including appropriate pricing policies,
must be provided. Particular stress must be laid on efficient water use and
expansion of irrigation as a basis for stabilizing and increasing food production. This
must be undertaken in ways which conserve natural resources in agriculture, forestry
and fisheries and avoid ecological damage which cannot be made good except
at very great cost.
Food and agricultural development cannot and should not be looked upon in isolation
from the whole process of social and economic development. Even high rates
of growth in developing countries have not solved the problems of hunger and malnutrition.
The growth process needs a new orientation to attack the social problems
of those people who have been benefiting only little in recent years from general
Hunger, unemployment and poverty go together. The rural landless and the urban
jobless should be provided with opportunities for productive employment through
higher rates of investment. The purchasing power of the poor must be increased,
for instance, by subsidies and direct food distribution schemes.
Other essential requirements include equitable access to land, water and other
natural resources; people's participation including integration of women in rural development;
access to inputs, markets, services and education, training and extension;
expansion of income and employment opportunities through rural work programmes
and non-farm activities to counter the prevalence of hunger in rural areas.
We strongly urge that the Declaration of Principles and the Programme of Action
adopted by the World Conference on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development
of July 1979 should be implemented with vigour by developing countries supported
fully by industrialised countries.
Not all countries can be self-sufficient in food. Through sub-regional, regional and
inter-regional cooperation developing countries can achieve the objective of collective
The elimination of hunger and malnutrition is an essential and integral part of the
New International Economic Order. We earnestly hope, therefore, that negotiations
will be successfully concluded at the present session of the General Assembly
of the United Nations on a resolution to launch Global Negotiations on International
This will give added impetus to the search for a long-term solution to the problems
of hunger and malnutrition in the world in the context of overall development.
These issues, however, are so vital and urgent as to brook no delay both as regards
the implementation of agreed commitments and the pursuance of ongoing negotiations
in other fora.
We have noted with great concern that summit pronouncements in favour of the
elimination of protection which particularly affects agricultural exports of developing
countries have not been borne out in practice. We urge that negotiations aimed at
concerted phasing out to tariff and non-tariff barriers to agricultural exports of
developing countries be undertaken. We strongly recommend that the forthcoming
GATT Ministerial Meeting make a significant beginning in this direction.
We note with regret that agreements reached under the UNCTAD Integrated Programme of Commodities have not been
followed up by successful negotiations. However, we consider that the stabilization
of prices at remunerative levels is essential for the success of a food and agricultural
strategy. To this end, we urge intensification of efforts to negotiate commodity
Efforts to conclude an International Grains Arrangement, which includes adequate
food security provisions, should be resumed with a view to reaching agreement
as soon as possible. National food security reserves and infrastructure in developing
countries, which are an essential component of world food security, should
be built up with international assistance. The international community should help
developing countries to take advantage of currently abundant world grain supplies
to build-up national, regional or sub regional stocks. More food aid should be
provided, on a stable and predictable basis, particularly through international
channels, not just to meet emergencies, but to promote development, care being taken
to avoid disincentives to domestic food production.
We urge developed countries and others in a position to do so to increase massively
their contribution to general development assistance and especially to provide increased
assistance to food and agriculture. Governments should take into account
FAO's estimate that external assistance requirements for food and agriculture will
increase four-fold in real terms by the end of the century.
We emphasize the need for an increasing share of external assistance to be provided
through multilateral institutions. International financial institutions, in their assistance
to food and agriculture, should cover more of the local and recurring costs. They
should also refrain from imposing conditions on pricing, tax and subsidy policies,
which would aggravate poverty and hunger and lead to political instability.
The ultimate purpose of development is the human being. Hence human development
is both a means and an end of the struggle to increase food production and
We commend non-governmental organizations, which have consistently drawn
attention to the problems of hunger and poverty and urge them to intensify their
efforts to promote solutions along the lines indicated in the present Declaration.
We recognize the particular responsibilities and lead role of FAO in the fight against
hunger. We are confident that FAO and other concerned organizations will be able
to respond effectively to the tasks that lie ahead. We accordingly invite the director-general of FAO to draw the attention
of FAO's governing bodies and the heads of other international organizations and
policy makers at national and international levels to the present Declaration.
We hope that policy makers and all people to whom this Declaration is addressed will
rise to the challenge and display the necessary vision, courage and determination.