World Food Day 2022: Call to leave no one behind comes at critical juncture for global food security
World Food Day 2022 celebrations were held in Rome today (14 October 2022) under the rallying cry "leave no one behind," amid a deteriorating global food security crisis and all-time high numbers of people at risk of experiencing serious levels of hunger in Asia and Africa.
The annual event commemorates the founding in 1945 of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). A global ceremony at FAO’s headquarters in Rome featured messages from, among others, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Pope Francis and Italian President Sergio Mattarella.
This year's edition takes place at a time when global food security is facing threats from multiple directions, with soaring food, energy and fertilizer prices adding to traditional drivers such as the climate crisis and long-standing conflicts. Meanwhile, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have knock-on effect, highlighting how interconnected our economies and lives are.
On top of the 970 000 people at risk of famine in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen, the number of people facing hunger worldwide is on the rise (as much as 828 million in 2021, according to FAO’s latest The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World report) and 3.1 billion people still cannot afford a healthy diet.
As is so often the case, it is the most vulnerable who are hit the hardest: Women, youth, Indigenous Peoples and rural farmers. They are often the ones who struggle the most to gain access to training, finance, innovation and technologies.
Pope Francis, in a message, read on his behalf by Monsignor Fernando Chica Arellano, Holy See Permanent Observer at FAO, urged the audience not to lose sight of the fact that people “are not just numbers, data or endless statistics.”
SOUNDBITE (Spanish) Monsignor Fernando Chica Arellano, Holy See Permanent Observer at FAO: “The objectives that are set are ambitious and seem to be unattainable. How could we get them?
First of all, not losing sight of the fact that the axis of any strategy is the people, with specific stories and faces, who live in a given place; they are not numbers, data or endless statistics. Also introducing "the category of love" in the language of international cooperation, to give international relations humanity and solidarity, while pursuing the common good.”
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said in a video message that World Food Day 2022 was taking place “at a challenging moment for global food security” and urged stakeholders to act together in order to move “from despair to hope and action.”
SOUNDBITE (English) Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary-General: “Governments, scientists, the private sector and civil society need to work together to make nutritious diets available and affordable for all. Financial institutions need to increase their support to developing countries, so they can help their people and invest in food systems. Together, we must move from despair to hope and action.”
SOUNDBITE (English) QU Dongyu, FAO Director-General: “In the face of a looming global food crisis, we need to harness the power of solidarity and collective momentum to build a better future where everyone has regular access to enough nutritious food.”
Executive Director of the World Food Programme, David Beasley, highlighted the grim outlook for the coming months as a result of the possible worsening of the global food crisis and asked global leaders for more collaboration.
SOUNDBITE (English) David Beasley, Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP): “Unprecedented calamity, unprecedented catastrophes, unprecedented perfect storms coming together are going to require unprecedented collaboration and cooperation. But we have the resources to get it done. But we don't have enough to carry it forward”.
While Alvaro Lario, President of the UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) appealed for long-term investment to break the cycle of poverty and hunger.
SOUNDBITE (English) Alvaro Lario, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD): “This year, more than ever, World Food Day should be a call to ramp up action to help those who supply food to their communities and countries, through crisis after crisis, despite inequality, vulnerability, and poverty”.
In a message read by Bruno Archi, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Italy to FAO, Italian President Sergio Mattarella said that without equitable access to food, it is impossible to guarantee a healthy life, quality education, and opportunities for social and economic development for millions of our planet’s inhabitants, especially those living in its poorest countries.
SOUNDBITE (Italian) Bruno Archi, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Italy to FAO: “To seek adequate solutions to today's crises and to address long-term goals, we need to work to make food systems more resilient and sustainable. Only effective multilateralism will enable us to reach such a complex and ambitious goal.”
Earlier in the day, European Space Agency astronaut and FAO Goodwill Ambassador Thomas Pesquet and Lebanese media professional and FAO Regional Goodwill Ambassador for the Near East and North Africa, Darine El Khatib visited the corns planted in FAO from seeds that Thomas Pesquet took with him to the International Space Station.