FAO Leads Celebrations on World Food Day

FAO Director-General confers World Food Day Medal on H.E. Suzanne Mubarak 16 October 2008: World Food Day 2008 (WFD), which was celebrated on 16 October, was marked by events around the world addressing the theme “World Food Security: the Challenges of Climate Change and Bioenergy.” The main ceremony was held at UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) headquarters in Rome, Italy, including a statement by FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf (see related story), a message from Pope Benedict XVI, and a keynote speech by Egypt's First Lady Suzanne Mubarak.

The papal message emphasized that “a lasting solution to hunger in the world lays in the promotion of an international order based on social justice.” Suzanne Mubarak, who received the World Food Day Medal, underscored that climate change is a serious threat to sustainable development that undermines “hard won” gains against hunger and poverty, and called for efforts to address the world food crisis “on par with the international response to the financial and credit

crisis.” FAO also launched an e-newsletter on Climate Change and Food Security on the day. A regional WFD observance for Asia and the Pacific was held in Bangkok, Thailand, during which Thailand's Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn presented FAO awards to model farmers for their achievements in organic agriculture, rural biogas development, cooperative farming and integrated agriculture. In the US, a teleconference was held on the theme “choices for a warm planet,” which examined the issues affected, the challenges posed, and diversity of approaches that will be required to respond to climate change as a human development challenge. The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) released the third edition of the Global Hunger Index.

Presenting the report, IFPRI Director General Joachim von Braun stated that, while population and income growth, high energy prices, biofuels, science and technology, climate change, globalization and urbanization are drastically changing the food system, the current financial crisis adds a further obstacle to overcoming the crisis. He urged governments to correct previous failures and called for a strong global governance architecture for agriculture, food and nutrition. WFD events will continue throughout the coming week, including: a run for food to be held in Rome and Milan, Italy, on 19 October; a world-wide candlelight vigil on 21 October 2008; a ceremony at UN Headquarters on 23 October; and a classical concert on 25 October in Tirana, Albania. [WFD webpage] [FAO Press Release] [FAO

Asia and Pacific News Site] [World Food Day USA] [IFPRI Press Release]