Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in the next two years, among others priorities, will focus on promoting sustainable agriculture, climate change mitigation and adaptation, poverty reduction, water scarcity, and migration.
According to FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva the number of hungry people in the world has increased since 2015, reversing years of progress. He stressed that almost 60 percent of the people suffering from hunger in the world live in countries affected by conflict and climate change. FAO currently has identified 19 countries in a protracted crisis situation, often also facing extreme climatic events such as droughts and floods.
FAO has signalled high risk of famine in northeast Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen with 20 million people severely affected. The livelihoods of these mostly rural people have been disrupted and “many of them have found no option other than increasing the statistics of distress migration”, Graziano da Silva said.
“Strong political commitment to eradicate hunger is fundamental, but it is not enough. Hunger will only be defeated if countries translate their pledges into action, especially at national and local levels. Peace is of course the key to ending these crises, but we cannot wait for peace to take action” and FAO, the World Food Program and the International Fund for Agricultural Development are all working hard to assist vulnerable people, he said. “It is extremely important to ensure that these people have the conditions vulnerable rural people cannot be left behind, especially youth and women”, he pointed out.
He was addressed the FAO Conference (Rome, 3-8 July), the organisation’s highest governing body which reviews and votes on the program of work and budget and discusses priority areas related to food and agriculture. Some 1,100 participants attended the meeting, including 82 ministers and numerous representatives from international organizations, the private sector and civil society.
FAO’s top priorities for the next two years include promoting sustainable agriculture, climate change mitigation and adaptation, poverty reduction, water scarcity, migration and the support of conflict-affected rural livelihoods as well as ongoing work on nutrition, fisheries, forestry and Antimicrobial Resistance.
Pope Francis expressed strong support for FAO’s agenda, emphasising the need for solidarity and recognition of human rights. “We are all conscious that the intention to assure all their daily bread is not enough – it is imperative that we recognize that everyone has the right to food”, the pontiff said in remarks delivered by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s Secretary of State.
The Pope continued, “I would like to make a symbolic contribution to the FAO programme that provides seeds to rural families in areas affected by the combined effects of conflicts and drought. This gesture is offered in addition to the work that the Church continues to carry out, in accordance with her vocation to stand at the side of the earth’s poor and to accompany the effective commitment of all on their behalf”.
“This commitment is asked of us today by the 2030 Development Agenda, when it restates the idea that food security is a goal that can no longer be put off. Yet only an effort inspired by authentic solidarity will be capable of eliminating the great number of persons who are undernourished and deprived of the necessities of life. This is a very great challenge for FAO and for all the Institutions of the international community. It is also a challenge that the Church is committed to on the front lines”.
The pontiff also announced he will visit FAO in person on the occasion of World Food Day on the 16th of October.