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26 March – Panama is setting up a network to promote corporate responsibility modelled on an initiative championed by United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan to challenge businesses around the world to act upon a set of universally recognized principles.

Forty-six businesses in Panama have signed on to form a network that seeks to incorporate principles upholding human rights, labour rights and environmental standards as outlined in the Global Compact initiative – a UN inter-agency initiative led by Mr. Annan.

“Enterprises need to adapt their activities to support social development and the well being of the community,” said UN Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative, Elizabeth Fong. UNDP is funding, for six months, the technical secretariat that supports the Global Compact Network-Panama.

Ms. Fong noted that the initiative has already made progress, including recruiting more companies, holding provincial forums and launching an awareness campaign targeting the media. The network’s main challenge will be to promote a change in Panama’s business culture, she added.

The Global Compact Network-Panama plans to complete several major projects this year, including Panama’s first study on corporate social responsibility and a partnership with the University of the Pacific in Lima, Peru, to incorporate the concept of corporate social responsibility in university curricula.

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FAO

26 March – A senior United Nations food official called on governments and the private sector today to join forces to ensure continued agricultural production and eliminate hunger by preventing the depletion of nutrient stocks in the soil.

Opening “Global Food Security and the Role of Sustainable Fertilization”, a high-level conference in Rome jointly organized by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Fertilizer Industry Association (IFA), FAO Deputy Director-General David Harcharik said the campaign to eradicate poverty and hunger, and to increase agricultural production while making sustainable use of natural resources, was a joint effort shared by both public and private institutions.

Mr. Harcharik noted that many developing countries need to apply more plant nutrients to meet agricultural development goals. He stated that integrated plant nutrition management provided by judicious use of both mineral and organic fertilizers as necessary for sustainable agricultural development.

The depletion of nutrient stocks in the soil, which is occurring in many developing countries, is a major but often hidden form of land degradation, making agricultural production unsustainable, according to FAO.

Major topics to be discussed include the challenges for successfully managing fertilizers in commercial farming systems in both developed and developing countries as well as under subsistence conditions. With an emphasis on future actions, the conference also will cover emerging technologies and knowledge about crop nutrient management, links between fertilizer use and human nutrition and the contribution of various sectors, including the fertilizer industry, international organizations, governments and researchers.

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________________________________________________________________________________________

DAILY PRESS BRIEFING BY THE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

          Following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Fred Eckhard, Spokesman for the

    Secretary-General.

          Good Afternoon.

          **Secretary-General on Iraq

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