10 June 2002

Africa: Mbeki Encourages Committed North-South Partnership

Pretoria — President Thabo Mbeki says countries of the North and the South should work together in solving problems to effect the necessary changes, as represented by the continent's recovery plan, the New Partnership for Africa's Development (Nepad).

The President was addressing delegates at the World Food Summit in Rome, Italy, today.

'The premise of this partnership must be an unambiguous commitment to solving problems together, in a spirit of joint responsibility among governments and between them and the private sector and civil society,' he said.

President Mbeki commended the United's Nation's Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) for its cooperation with Nepad's institutions.

'The partnership provided technical support to help elaborate the programme of action with regard to African agriculture,' he said.

He said Africa had established a framework through Nepad within which the World Food Summit plan of action would be implemented.

'Nepad,' President Mbeki said, 'identifies agriculture as a priority sector.' The move would ensure that the area is extended under sustainable land management and reliable water control systems, increased levels of investment in agricultural research and increased food supply while reducing hunger.

One other aspect includes improving rural agriculture and market access.

Complimentary to this, all issues blocking access into the markets of the developed world had to be addressed, the President noted.

'Speedy movements on this matter would yield early dividends with regard to the achievement of the goal of sustainable food security.' The three-day Summit, which kicked off today, will see President Mbeki holding bilateral talks with UN secretary-general Kofi Annan.

It will focus on reviewing advances made since the last summit held in the same venue, six years ago.

It also coincides with the envisaged food shortage in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region.

Last week, the UN warned of starvation in six SADC countries, including Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique, Malawi and Swaziland.

President Mbeki said the continent was convinced that the world had capital, technology and the human skills to achieve the critically important goals set in the 1996 summit and the 2000 Millennium Declaration.

'What is called for is bold leadership, informed by the noble principle of human solidarity,' said President Mbeki.

Moreover, he urged that what was agreed upon at this year's summit must strengthen the Johannesburg Declaration and Plan of Action of the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) to be held in Johannesburg from 26 August to 4 September.

'The Johannesburg Summit should affirm the centrality of agriculture and food security to the objective of sustainable development in a meaningful way,' Mr Mbeki said.

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