ROME, Nov. 16 (UPI) -- A comprehensive plan to combat threats to global food security was presented Monday during a U.N.-sponsored food security summit in Rome.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said global food shortages were aggravated by climate change and population growth that will see 2 billion more mouths to feed in 2050 -- 9.1 billion in all, the United Nations said in a release.
The World Summit on Food Security is being conducted at the Rome headquarters of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization. More than 60 heads of state, including Pope Benedict XVI, are attending the summit, but some of the larger countries, including the United States, are absent, Italian news agency ANSA reported.
Ban outlined steps ranging from immediate needs such as food aid, safety nets and social protection, to long-term goals achieved through more investments in agricultural development, better market access and fairer trade for smaller farm operations, the United Nations said.
"These smallholder farmers are the heart and soul of food security and poverty reduction," Ban said. "We must resist protectionism and end subsidies that distort markets. This, ladies and gentlemen, lies at the core of food security. Our job is not just to feed the hungry, but to empower the hungry to feed themselves."
FAO leader Jacques Diouf said he hopes wealthier countries will commit to spending $44 billion a year to assist poorer countries' agricultural systems develop and adapt.
Ban also spoke of the relationship between the food and global warming crises, advocating that countries reach agreement at December's climate change summit in Copenhagen, Denmark, on curbing greenhouse gas emissions to keep the average temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius.
"Today's event is critical. So is the climate change conference in Copenhagen next month. There can be no food security without climate security," Ban said.