World Food Day 2021 celebrations began on October 15 2021, with a global event where participants noted that while the challenges of global hunger, climate crisis and COVID-19 remain formidable, there is also a new momentum and energy behind efforts to transform our agri-food systems, making them more fit for purpose.
A UN Food Systems Summit last month mapped out the broad outlines of how the world needs to move forward to reshape the structures under which our food is produced, distributed and consumed.
QU Dongyu, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations said in his address to the FAO-hosted World Food Day celebration. He also pointed to the contribution made by the ground-breaking World Food Forum convened earlier this month in Rome - a global movement that seeks to harnesses the energy and creativity of young people to shape a better future for our food.
QU noted that this year’s World Food Day finds the world at a critical moment.
SOUNDBITE (English) QU Donguy, FAO Director-General: “Global food insecurity has not been this severe for years! Yet, over the past year, we have also witnessed the resilience and the strength within each of us. We survived, we prevailed. On this World Food Day, we pay tribute to all our Food Heroes around the world who continued to work against all the odds to ensure we had food to eat.”
Even before COVID-19, hundreds of millions of people worldwide were afflicted by hunger and that number has increased in the last year to 811 million. That’s despite the world producing sufficient food to feed everyone. He also noted that 14 percent of food is lost, and 17 percent is wasted.
The momentous challenges humanity faces was also highlighted by a message from Pope Francis to the World Food Day event read by Monsignor Fernando Chica Arellano, Holy See Permanent Observer at FAO.
SOUNDBITE (Spanish) Monsignor Fernando Chica Arellano, Holy See Permanent Observer at FAO: “We are currently witnessing a real paradox in terms of access to food: on the one hand, more than three billion people do not have access to a nutritious diet, while on the other hand, almost two billion are overweight or obese due to a poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle.”
Italy’s president, Sergio Mattarella sent a message that was read by Vincenza Lomonaco, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Italy to FAO.
SOUNDBITE (Italian) Vincenza Lomonaco, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Italy to FAO: “The state of global food security has significantly worsened. The international community needs to make sure we follow through properly on the recommendations of the recent Food Systems Summit, making use of the natural synergies of the UN system and the competencies of the Rome-based UN agencies.”
His call was echoed by the heads of the two other UN food agencies based in Rome: International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP).
SOUNDBITE (English) Gilbert F. Houngbo, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD): “We need broad-based partnerships that ensure small-scale farmers are fairly rewarded for their labour. Major priorities are pricing systems that reflect the full and true cost of production, and deploying more finance to neglected and vulnerable rural communities”.
In his pre-recorded message, David Beasley, Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP) highlighted the current unprecedented challenges to global food security.
SOUNDBITE (English) David Beasley, Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP): “We’ll only succeed in ending hunger if we ensure our global food systems are fit for the twenty-first century. That’s why, at WFP, we’re working to strengthen food systems so they support healthy diets for everyone – especially the most vulnerable communities.”
The theme of this year’s World Food Day, “Our actions are our future,” calls on everyone to be a food hero contributing to the transformation of agri-food systems for Better Production, Better Nutrition, a Better Environment and a Better Life, leaving no one behind.
World Food Day is celebrated on 16 October every year to commemorate FAO’s founding on that day in 1945.
This year’s celebrations were officially launched with the hybrid event today in Rome. The celebrations also included a special lecture by the Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum Professor Klaus Schwab, and a Dialogue on Tea and Coffee, exploring the traditions behind these beverages. Events marking World Food Day are held in around 150 countries, including at the Expo Dubai. In addition, there will be a multi-platform campaign celebrating our Food Heroes, the farmers, producers and others who provide food to their communities.