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Development scene

Development Scene

- World Food Summit: German NGOs demand changes
- European Union imports more "fair products"
- German NGOs found a "Development Policy Association"

World Food Summit: German NGOs demand changes

Bonn/Rome -German NGOs have sharply criticised the upcoming World Food Summit, attacking both the content of the conference and the lack of involvement of NGOs. The summit, organised by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), will be held in Rome from 13-17 November.

The draft document already presented by the FAO shows that, to tackle world hunger, the organisation is still "primarily in favour of an increase in production - this is the wrong approach" says Jochen Donner of the German Agro Action, representing the German "NGO coordination for the World Food Summit" in a press release. The main concern of this alliance of around 50 German NGOs from the areas of agriculture, development, environment and consumer protection is that the FAO is still focussed on the development of technology.

At the meeting of the Commission on World Food Security which took place at the end of January in Rome, the NGOs managed at least to achieve some changes in the policy statement, according to Rainer Engels of German Watch, speaking for the NGO alliance. The national delegations in Rome also introduced many improvements to the document, which is meant to be adopted at the World Food Summit in November.

Rainer Engels was satisfied about the "fair involvement" of NGOs in the national delegations, if not in the framework of the FAO sub-committee meetings. There, the NGOs are only allowed to present short statements, but may not participate in the discussions. For the transition period until the next meeting of the Commission in September, an open working group was set up, which will develop the recommendations of the last meeting before the actual conference. "There is still the opportunity to develop the document further", Rainer Engels said.

The speaker of the NGO alliance emphasised to gate that it is important to develop different approaches towards the fight against famine. This mainly includes the "active participation of farmers" in all programmes on rural development and adopting forms of agriculture which are suitable to their location and resource-saving. Food security means that endangered groups have, or will gain, access to productive resources such as soil, credit, jobs and other sources of income. In general, food security must have priority over the opening up of world markets: "Governments must have the right to regulate imports in a way that they do not endanger their food security, but support it". At the same time, industrialised countries must stop to subsidise their export of agricultural products.

The NGO alliance will make "big efforts" in the run-up to the FAO conference in order to inform the German public about the precarious world food situation and the ongoing existence of hunger in the world. It will be made clear that "responsiblity must be taken by our society for the causes of the forthcoming world food crisis and for the solution to these problems".

There will be five regional FAO preparation conferences between March and May in which there will be further refinements of these debates. The NGOs, through their national delegations will try to prevent the World Food "Summit becoming a talking shop between high-level "government representatives which will bring no real results. "So far a follow up is not even planned" says Rainer "Engels: "There are no financial resources for this, there is no timetable and no obligation to report back".

Yvonne Mabille

European Union imports more "fair products"

Brussels -More than 0.01% of the imports into the European Union consist of "fair products". This amounted to products worth around 100 million DM in 1994.

According to the Fair Trade Yearbook 1995 which is published by EFTA, the umbrella organisation of fair-trade associations, there are now 45,000 points of sale for fair trade products, including individual retailers and chain stores. The products range from Max-Havelaar coffee to honey, as well as textiles and wooden articles with the fair trade trademark. In Switzerland fair trade coffee amounted to five percent of sales, honey up to eight per cent of overall sales.

Since these products are now being offered in supermarkets, the "fair trade shops" have experienced a fall in sales: The shopping behaviour of consumers has evidently changed.

German NGOs found a "Development Policy Association"

Bonn -In Germany, 58 development NGOs have founded a new umbrella organisation. The "Development Policy Association" is aimed at improving the effectiveness of lobbying on the basis of the interests and positions of the member organisations vis-a-vis national and international decision-making bodies.

The Association's work is divided into three areas: "Development policy in the North" which includes education and media work, marketing, policy evaluation and lobbying, "development policy in the South" which means partnerships, projects, co-financing etc., and "development international" which deals with topics in the framework of the UN system, international financial institutions and European development policy.

The association, which will be financed by membership fees and grants, will start working this spring.