Media Center

Press Release

OAS Holds Policy Roundtable on “Food Security with Sovereignty,” Central Theme of the General Assembly

  April 30, 2012

The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, highlighted the “particular importance for the hemisphere” of the central theme of the upcoming General Assembly of the OAS, to be held June 3 to 5 in Bolivia, “Food Security with Sovereignty in the Americas,” during the opening of the Roundtable held today on the subject at the headquarters of the organization in Washington, DC.

In his welcoming remarks, Secretary General Insulza recalled that “eradicating extreme poverty and hunger are the first of the Millennium Development Goals, whose goal by 2015 is to reduce by half the proportion of people earning less than one dollar a day, and reduce by half the percentage of people suffering from hunger.” He also remembered that the definition of food security laid out by the United Nations is that “all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient food to meet their needs and preferences, in order to maintain an active and healthy life.”

The chief representative of the hemispheric organization stressed that “to progress toward a more just, egalitarian and inclusive food framework, we need to promote and strengthen public policies designed to promote increased investment in agriculture, strengthen agricultural markets, integrate small producers’ markets, promote fair trade, control volatility in food prices, develop more programs to help vulnerable populations access food, as well as educational programs in food and nutritional security.”

The Permanent Representative of Bolivia to the OAS, Diego Pary, thanked the experts present for their participation, and said his country chose to focus the Assembly on food security following a wide debate with civil society and “with the purpose of being able to build a common vision in the hemisphere” on the subject.

“Food security,” added the Bolivian representative, “is not a traditional subject in our organization, but the new crises, among them the food crisis, put before us the challenge” of debating the subject.

The Roundtable included the participation of a panel of experts including Diego Pacheco, an expert from Bolivia in food security; James French, Director of Technical Cooperation of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA); Florence Rolle, Officer in Charge, Liaison Office for North America of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO); Gemmos Lodesani, Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean of the World Food Programme (WFP); and Gina Tambini, Area Manager of Family and Community Health of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).

Diego Pacheco, who is also part of the Bolivian team negotiating the Declaration of Cochabamba, pointed out that food security in many countries of the region depends on external actors, and is not under the control of the states. The Bolivian expert emphasized that “human beings do not live alone, human beings live, and must live, in harmony with ourselves first, with society, with our communities, and also in harmony with nature.”

The Director of Technical Cooperation of IICA, James French recalled that the subject of food security is not a new one, but is one that presents interconnected challenges. In order to fight the problem of access to good food, for example, requires “improving the efficiency of the markets inside the countries themselves.”

Florence Rolle of the FAO underlined the importance not just of access to sufficient quantity of food, but also to food of good quality. She called for greater investment in agriculture in the region, and pointed to “the importance of linking this investment in agriculture with social protection systems like ‘food for work’ which enable poor and vulnerable people to set up risk management strategies and invest in productive activity.”

For his part, Gemmo Lodesani of the WFP said nutrition is a fundamental issue in socio-economic development, and one of the most basic human rights. “The lack of access to food is one of the greatest problems in food security in the region,” he said.

The Area Manager for Family and Community Health of the PAHO, Gina Tambini, pointed out that there have been recent successes in food security, for example the case of children under five years old in Peru. Among her conclusions, she said malnutrition in the Americas is the result of “the unequal distribution and access to food and to basic services.”

A gallery of photos of the event is available here.

A video of the event is available here.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-148/12