The United Nations and FAO Celebrate World Food Day Today
By admin October 16, 2015


The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) celebrates World Food Day each October 16th, in remembrance of the organization’s founding in 1945. This year, the FAO will hold an official World Food Day / 70th anniversary for the FAO ceremony at Expo Milano. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, Director General of FAO Jose Graziano da Silva, the President of the Republic of Italy Sergio Mattarella, Italian Minister for Agriculture, Food & Forestry Maurizio Martina and Italian Minister for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini will attend. The theme of this World Food Day is “Social Protection and Agriculture: Breaking the Cycle of Rural Poverty,” which works well with the UN’s Expo theme of “The Zero Hunger Challenge: United for a Sustainable World.”

According to the UN, hunger results in more deaths per year than malaria, AIDS and tuberculosis combined. FAO head da Silva has called for youth today to become “the Zero Hunger Generation” – completely eliminating all hunger through policy integration and streamlined food systems.

Two projects that will address this initiative are the Milan Charter and the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact, both of which will be officially presented at the Expo. The Milan Charter is a protocol aimed at addressing several food-related paradoxes. The first of these paradoxes is food waste: every year, enough food is thrown away to adequately feed the 795 million people categorized as undernourished. The second is the use of agriculture to feed livestock (which also draw large amounts of water) and to create biofuels. The third is the fact that, even while millions are undernourished, more than 2.1 billion are obese or overweight; this stems from global income inequality. Signatories to the protocol will pledge to reduce food waste by 50% by 2020; promote sustainable agriculture and limit land use for animal feed and biofuels; help provide equal land access and land property rights to all people; provide everyone with year-round access to nutritious food; stamp out undernutrition; improve economic equity; and stop the rise in obesity by 2025 through a “culture of prevention” and physical activity.

The Milan Urban Food Policy Pact will also be presented at the Expo. This document represents a promise by mayors and governments of cities around the world to create sustainable food systems that are integrated into local government policies. Signatories are encouraged to use the Urban Food Policy Framework for Action to guide development of these systems. This framework suggests improving collaboration among government agencies, creating food plans, promoting sustainable diets, addressing obesity and safe drinking water, using cash and food transfers to help vulnerable people, update school food programs, support urban food production, use good land planning and provide for rights, review food flows, and address food waste. Forty-five cities are expected to sign on World Food Day. The program is driven by Food Smart Cities for Development, a project funded by the European Commission’s Development Education and Awareness Raising (DEAR) program.

Today marks the 35th observance of World Food Day. It certainly promises to be a watershed year for sustainable agriculture and worldwide food policies beginning with the Milan Charter and Milan Urban Food Policy Pact.

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