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Permanent Mission of the Republic of the Philippines to the United Nations
As this is the first time my delegation will intervene at this session, allow me to thank you for the kind hospitality and excellent preparations arranged by the government of Namibia. Your statement at the Gala Dinner last night about sparing no effort to make this Ministerial Conference a success is quite evident from the conduct of our meetings thus far.
I would also like to take this opportunity to express our appreciation to the members of your Bureau, our keynote speakers, moderators, discussants and conference secretariat for the quality of work that we have seen today.
The Philippines considers the issue of the global food crisis as a top national priority. Our government has been actively involved in national and international efforts to find solutions to rising food prices that are seen to affect almost all countries for quite some time to come.
At the national level, the Philippines now has a Rice Self-Sufficiency Plan 2009-2010 that would increase the country’s rice output to 19.8 million metric tons by 2010. In order to achieve this, thirty billion pesos is being sourced to spend on research and development, agricultural infrastructure, sustainable integrated farming systems, rice biotechnology, and education. Bilateral assistance has been sought, and already a US $ 216.5 million food security agreement has been signed with the United States. The World Bank has also indicated that the Philippines would be eligible under the US $ 1.2 billion global food program.
At the global level, during the Rome summit called by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, the Philippines proposed the creation of a global grains reserve to protect both importing and exporting countries from sharply fluctuating prices. The Philippines also encouraged countries that are to embark on a biofuels program, to do so using non-food sources so as not to affect food security. Furthermore, in support of increased funding for global research and development, the Philippines strongly sought support for the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) which is based in the Philippines.
While these efforts describe what an individual country must do to address the problem, the question before us at this conference today, however, is how can MICs cooperate with each other to deal with this food crisis?
It is clear that the gravity of this crisis has forced all countries to come together to seek a coordinated and timely action at several levels. The United Nations has led the way in acting on the problem by first bringing attention to the crisis at the highest political levels and forming a Task Force on the Food and Energy Crisis. After a relatively short period, a Comprehensive Framework of Action has been finalized for implementation by all stakeholders, and it is up to each individual nation to see how the short, medium and long-term recommendations apply to their national situation. Of course, the international organizations involved have their roles to play, however, MICs can take an active part in cooperating with these organizations and with each other to seek more effective and speedy solutions that may benefit from geographical proximity and from trade and transport access.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has identified the food crisis as one of its main priorities this year, and we can be sure that at a regional level efforts will be made to consider the Comprehensive Framework of Action and see how this may be applied in context. It is through examples like this that MICs can come together at a regional level and benefit from synergies and sharing of best practices.
Another example of broad international cooperation that deals specifically with developing countries as a whole is of course, the Group of 77 and China and its approach to South-South cooperation. At the Twelfth Session of the Intergovernmental Follow-up and Coordination Committee on Economic Cooperation among Developing Countries or IFCC XII, the Group endorsed a comprehensive Development Platform for the South, which is an illustrative guide to issues of common concern. Chapter 3 of this document lists short, medium and long-term proposed measures aimed at finding and maximizing the potential of South-South cooperation to achieve stated goals. One of these goals called for the Group to “Develop urgently a long-term response to address the unprecedented global food crisis.”
As MICs, many of the delegations here today would do well to study the Development Platform for the South and consider discussing this at regional levels in order to fulfill the recommendations on South-South cooperation that similarly came out of the ECOSOC Special High-Level meeting with the Bretton Woods Institutions, the WTO and the UNCTAD held last 24 April 2008 in New York. In particular the Roundtable on ‘Supporting the development efforts of middle-income countries’ cited the need to strengthen South-South cooperation in the areas of trade, finance and technology.
This approach of finding common ground and applying comprehensive and coordinated action to solve shared problems can be applied to other situations and problems that MICs have and should be the subject of our discussions over the course of the next two days.
Like others in this room, the Philippines remains committed to supporting the cause of seeking due recognition for the particular needs of MICs, and similar to the government of Namibia in hosting this important conference, we will likewise spare no effort to ensure the success of our worthy goal.
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