Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday stressed the need to devise a common strategy to deal with global economic shocks triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic, saying that “we will perish or survive together”.
While delivering a keynote address to the board of directors of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) virtually, the prime minister also spoke of the dangers of global hunger and malnutrition affecting hundreds of millions of people, warning that the world is now facing a crisis “.
He said agriculture was essential for human survival and 600 million people were going hungry even as the world’s population was on the verge of reaching eight billion.
The Covid-19 pandemic is likely to push an additional 100 million people into extreme poverty, the prime minister noted, saying more than 20 countries were food insecure, while the World Food Program had put guard against the danger of famine in some of the poorest countries and of conflict. areas.
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“The world faces multiple challenges in recovering from the pandemic and [the] two first vital Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), no poverty and zero hunger, ”said Imran, adding that there was a lack of funding, a dearth of investments, trade distortions, modes of production and unsustainable consumption, degradation of agricultural land and forests, an imminent situation. water crisis, loss of biodiversity and pollution of rivers and oceans.
“We need a revolution in our vision of our future. The Covid-19 pandemic and the climate crisis should send the message to all rich and poor, weak or powerful that their fates are intertwined. We will perish or will survive together, ”he said. highlighted.
Prime Minister Imran stressed that the concepts of geostrategic adversaries, regional or world domination, the political advantages of foreign intervention and occupation, and the oppression of peoples are “outdated and will soon be considered unsuccessful. relevant “.
“We need a common plan and strategy for global recovery and the survival and prosperity of all mankind in response to the recession triggered by the Covid-19 crisis,” he said , recalling its proposal for a global initiative on debt relief last April.
While the debt suspension announced by the G20 countries and the emergency lending programs of the World Bank, IMF and others have given “some breathing space”, the prime minister said, countries in development needs $ 4.3 trillion to recover from the pandemic and achieve the SDGs. , according to the latest estimates.
Imran reiterated the measures he proposed at a special session of the United Nations General Assembly last December for the generation of early funding to enable developing countries to emerge from the Covid crisis. 19, which included: comprehensive debt relief and restructuring, the creation of $ 500 million in Special Drawing Rights (SDRs), increased concessional financing, and measures to stop and recover illicit financial flows from developing countries to safe-haven destinations and richer countries.
But he said the world “needs[s] go much further “ if it was to end poverty and hunger, for which he proposed the following five-point agenda:
1- We must invest in sustainable agricultural infrastructure to facilitate the transport, production and distribution of agricultural inputs and food products, of which the “greenways” created by China are a good example.
2- Governments must more actively guarantee adequate and fair prices for agricultural and food products. “The so-called market magic must be counterbalanced by a very visible hand of the state. In Pakistan, we have suffered from market manipulation by monopolists and accumulators. Farmers should not be left at the mercy of corporations. at the same time, international agricultural trade must be rationalized. Huge agricultural subsidies granted by some richer economies distort world markets and prevent farmers in developing countries from being competitive, “the Prime Minister said.
3- New and revolutionary agricultural technologies and techniques must be consciously applied to improve food production, ensure efficient use of water and land, and above all improve the quality of seeds. IFAD and FAO can play an important role in this context.
4- The adoption of digital technologies is as vital in agriculture as in other economic sectors. Ensuring Internet and broadband access to rural areas will be essential for their integration into national and global supply chains.
5- We must rethink our modes of food consumption and production. We can eat better, and many of us would do well to eat less. We can produce food with greater respect for nature, we can stop the pollution of our lakes, rivers and oceans. We can produce more with less water and without dangerous chemicals.
Prime Minister Imran further said that a new strategy for sustainable food production and consumption should be considered and adopted at the Food Systems Summit scheduled for next year.
As part of national development efforts, he said his government has given the highest priority to achieving SDG-1 (no poverty) and SDG-2 (zero hunger).
The prime minister said his government provided a relief package of around $ 8 billion during the pandemic “despite our financial difficulties”. Thanks to the Ehsaas program, the poorest families and other vulnerable groups received emergency financial assistance using digital technologies and databases.
He added that the agricultural sector, which had to face the double challenge of Covid-19 and locust attacks, continued to benefit from its “greater attention”, while budget allocations had been multiplied by nearly three and l growth target for the current year. was set at 3.5%.
The government also plans to plant 10 billion trees over the next three years and will set aside eight large areas as national reserves or national parks.
“Within the framework of the Sino-Pakistani economic corridor, the modernization of agriculture has been included as an essential element of our development strategy. This will allow us to fight significantly towards the fight against hunger and poverty,” he said. declared the Prime Minister.
He stressed that the efforts of developing countries like Pakistan to promote sustainable development and eradicate poverty and hunger “can only be successful through international cooperation”.
“We hope for such cooperation with all countries,” he said, appreciating the role played by IFAD in promoting such partnerships.
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