Address of H. E. Jón Bjarnason,
Minister for Fisheries and Agriculture of Iceland,
at the 37th Conference of FAO, held in Rome 25 June – 2 July 2011.
Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen
Allow me to begin, on behalf of the Government of Iceland, by congratulating Mr José Graziano da Silva upon his election as the incoming Director General of the FAO. I wish him all the best in his new and challenging occupation. I also like to use this opportunity to convey to Dr Jacques Diouf my Government´s sincere thanks and appreciation.
Iceland welcomes this year´s State of Food and Agriculture report and its theme Women in Agriculture, Closing the Gender Gap for Development. The document shows that enhanced equality between men and women could reduce the number of undernourished people in the world by 12 – 17% or by 100 – 150 million people. We do commend the FAO Gender, Equity and Rural Employment Division and were honored when in May of this year, Iceland was chosen as one of the countries to present the findings of the SOFA-report. Let´s remember that our first agricultural societies where matriarchal, based on the need for security in feeding the family.
The Government of Iceland has put development cooperation and gender equality at the heart of its foreign policy. Iceland´s new Strategic Plan for Development Cooperation 2011 – 2014, has as one of its pillars the sustainable utilization of natural resources, such as fisheries, thus making the FAO, and its Department for Fisheries and Aquaculture, a key partner for us.
There is no simple solution to the many faceted problem of feeding the hungry and in that respect each country has to examine its own capabilities.
My country is a food producing country. We have grass based agriculture but by far our most important food-producing sector is harvesting our plentiful marine resources. It has taken decades for the international community to develop the necessary framework for regulating the use of marine resources as marine life does not respect national borders. Iceland has proudly fully participated in this work over the decades.
As you surely know, in recent years various special interest groups have managed to interrupt the political processes and Agreements we have made, Agreements that are firmly based on the principles of sustainable development and are underpinned by sound science.
For example, there is a lack of recognition by some countries towards the natural sustainable harvest of marine mammals in the North-Atlantic. Products from this area and Iceland included suffer trade measures in various countries. These trade-measures raise serious concerns for the future of international cooperation on responsible management and the understanding of sustainable harvest of renewable natural resources in general.
Iceland wants the FAO and other UN agencies to secure Rule Based Approaches to sustainable use of marine resources, which are agreed upon in a civilized manner, so as to avoid confusion and to avoid derailing the Agreements we already have made.
All food production needs to be ecologically, economically and socially sustainable if it is to benefit our aim of gender equality, interest of the local society as well as the global population. It is our duty to commit all ourselves to this goal.
Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen thank you for your kind attention.