Firstly, let me thank the Federal Minister of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection, Dr. Hans-Peter Friedrich, for the invitation and for the opportunity to discuss food security and the future of the agricultural sector with colleagues from so many countries.
In a world where the population will be 9 billion in 2050, we face unprecedented challenges regarding food security. An increasing demand for food must be met while at the same time reducing the pressure on a scarce natural resource base for food and agriculture.
In order to address the goals of increasing production while maintaining the natural resource base, agriculture must optimize the use of resources. We need a transition towards a more optimal and renewable use of biological resources in primary production and throughout the food value chain. There is a great potential for efficiency gains and value creation. Norway sees it as an important task to promote research and innovation in this field.
Food safety is an equally important aspect of food security. If the food industry is to provide the consumer with safe food with optimal quality, competence is needed in many areas. I recently had the honour to open new and unique pathogen pilot plant facilities in Norway. These facilities will be available for international cooperation among R&D institutions, universities and industry. This kind of research cooperation is key.
On a global level, Norway is committed to engage in cooperation that promotes adaptation to climate change and increased productivity in agriculture.
A well developed system of management of genetic resources is an important contribution to the eradication of hunger and to environmental sustainability. This is why Norway in 2013 donated extra- budgetary resources to both the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources and to the Global Crop Diversity Trust. The global gene pool must be supported both by in situ conservation in farmers fields and ex situ conservation in gene banks. Ensuring that breeders and farmers have access to the raw material for developing new plant varieties is crucial. We will need plant varieties that are high yielding, pest and disease resistant, that have high water use efficiency and that are able to withstand the effects of drought and high temperatures.
As pointed out by many of my colleagues today, the potential of sustainable agricultural growth is not fully exploited. Dealing with scarcity and instability in the agricultural sector will require investments. Farmers are themselves the most important investors, but are dependent on an enabling environment. A rights-based approach is key to ensure poverty eradication and responsible investments in the agricultural sector, particularly for small-scale farmers. The ongoing work of the Committe of Food Security to develop principles for responsible agricultural investments is an important contribution in this regard.
Furthermore, I would like to underline that a strong, open, rules based international trading system is vital for development, food security and the resilience of global production and distribution of food. I warmly welcome the positive outcome of the WTO ministerial conference at Bali in December. We have shown that the WTO can deliver results. We now have to build on this and take further steps, including on agriculture.
Finally, let me underline that our discussions are taking place at a time when future goals for food security are being planned. Food security is an important part of the current discussions in the UN on the post -2015 agenda. For this reason, the policy recommendations presented today are timely, and should be valuable contributions to the post 2015- process.