Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was awarded the George McGovern Leadership Award for advancing the international community's efforts to address global hunger at the World Food Program USA's 9th annual awards ceremony and reception. Former Senator and Goodwill Ambassador to the World Food Program George McGovern presented the award to Secretary Clinton. Executive Director of the World Food Program Josette Sheeran and President and CEO of WFP USA Richard Leach also participated in the event.
Secretary Clinton said, "[W]e are at the State Department really on a mission when it comes to hunger. But it's a slightly more expanded and somewhat different approach that we are taking. We know very well that hunger is a drain on economic development. It is a threat to the stability of governments, as the food riots have shown over the last two years, and it certainly it deprives us of the talents and energy of nearly a billion people worldwide.
"So how do we tackle it? Because we know that fighting hunger is a priority for us and it demands our highest levels of patience and commitment. We are aware of our historic achievements like the Green Revolution because, as George pointed out, the huge shipment of food from the United States to India was soon replaced by India becoming self-sufficient, thanks to American technology and know-how being transferred to India. And it is important that we focus on science and research again, that we put a lot of effort and commitment behind looking for ways to bring about the widespread distribution of micro-nutrients, for example, the integration of nutrition into HIV and AIDS programs, the development of heartier nutrient-rich crops like beans, bread, to contain more iron. These are now being field tested in Rwanda to address anemia, a leading cause of deaths of mothers and children and of cognitive delay among children.
"We've seen a growing consensus among world leaders that demands action. That consensus is enshrined in the Millennium Development Goal on poverty and hunger. It was carried forward in the last year by the G-8 and the G-20, which together pledged $22 billion to support agricultural development in impoverished countries.
"And as Josette said last week at the United National General Assembly, ministers from six countries came together with leaders of the European Union, UNICEF, the World Health Organization, the World Bank, civil society, the private sector and, of course, the World Food Program to launch the 1,000 Days campaign. The goal being to improve nutrition starting with conception all the way through a child's second birthday. And creating a consensus around this and a plan, so that people understand what they can do to contribute, was hardly imaginable two years ago. We now have to implement, but at least we have arrived at an agreement about the way forward.
"So I think we have reached a shared understanding of the need for a sustainable, comprehensive approach, where there really is a role for everyone to play. We need the science and the tools that science and technology bring to help us carry that out. We need the political leadership that is sustainable. We certainly need a better understanding of how to deliver food and not interrupt, disrupt, and destroy markets in the host countries... We understand that agricultural development in many parts of the world is primarily a women's issue because in most places in the developing world 60 to 70 percent of the small farmers are women, and they are very often denied access to the best seeds and fertilizer and other assets that will contribute to increasing their yield. We know that it does very little good to increase yield in a region of a country where there are no roads to get the excess produced to market in any timely way. We know that in the absence of storage facilities, including cold storage that can be shared either because of the private sector building them or government programs that incentivize the building of them, we're still going to lose about 40 percent of the harvest in many countries.
"So we have a much broader understanding of what it will take in this fight against hunger. And as we press ahead with the Feed the Future Initiative, we need your involvement. We need your guidance, your feedback, your support, because we have to be ready to take this on for the long run."
Read Secretary Clinton's full remarks here.