The number of hungry people in the world has increased since 2015, reversing 25 years of progress.
The Director-General of Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), José Graziano da Silva told member states at the opening of the agency’s biennial conference, the organization’s highest governing body which reviews and votes on the program of work and budget and discusses priority areas related to food and agriculture.
Graziano da Silva stressed that almost 60 percent of the people suffering from hunger in the world live in countries affected by conflict and climate change.
“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 to continue producing their own food. Vulnerable rural people cannot be left behind, especially youth and women.”
Pope Francis expressed strong support for FAO’s agenda, emphasizing 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 pontiff also announced he will visit FAO in person on the occasion of World Food Day on the 16th of October.
FAO currently identifies 19 countries in a protracted crisis situation, often also facing extreme climatic events such as droughts and floods.
It has signaled high risk of famine in northeast Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen with 20 million people severely affected
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.
Some 1,100 participants are attending the meeting, including one head of state, one prime minister, 82 ministers and numerous representatives from international organizations, the private sector and civil society.