Diouf: FAO must adapt to change
Several heads of state at FAO 60th anniversary celebration
17 October 2005, Rome -FAO "must adapt to the changes of the last 60 years if it is to rise to new challenges and profit from emerging opportunities," said FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf during an official ceremony marking the 60th anniversary of FAO.
President Luis Iñacio Lula da Silva of Brazil, President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi of Italy, several other heads of state and the Secretary of State of the Holy See Cardinal Angelo Sodano were among high-level personalities attending the ceremony.
Founded in 1945 in Quebec City to free humanity from hunger, the UN food and agriculture agency has played an active role in increasing food production to meet the needs of a global population that has tripled since its creation.
Dr Diouf said that he was seeking approval from FAO Member States to implement a programme that "will enable the Organization to play an increasing effective role in hunger eradication, in the development of sustainable agriculture, in food safety, in the control of transboundary plant and animal pests and diseases, and in the negotiation of a more equitable regime of trade for agricultural commodities."
"The Millennium Summit last month reaffirmed the common interest of the world's nations in putting an end to poverty and hunger and in conserving the earth's natural resources for future generations," Dr Diouf said.
Commenting on the main achievements of the Organization, the FAO Director-General said that "since 1960, the proportion of the world's population that is undernourished has fallen from 35 percent to 13 percent."
He mentioned other achievements, particularly the approval of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture in 2003 and he stressed the importance of FAO as "a neutral forum in which nations come together to address food and agricultural issues."
However, Dr Diouf said that FAO and its members have to admit to failing to attain the Organization founders' expectations in two highly critical areas: First, some 852 million people remain hungry in a world of plenty; and second, some of the intensive agricultural systems that have permitted such growth are not sustainable and have negative environmental, economic, social and cultural consequences.
Looking towards the future, he went on to say: "FAO must address two central issues as the 21st century unfolds. First, it must increase the effectiveness of its work with its members towards eradicating hunger, as reflected in the first Millennium Development Goal. Second, it must foster the satisfaction of future global needs for food and forest products without compromising the sustainability of the earth's fragile natural resources or its climate."
During the 60th anniversary ceremony, Dr Diouf awarded FAO's Agricola Medal to President Lula da Silva and a message from Pope Benedict XVI was read by the Secretary of State of the Holy See.
The ceremony was also addressed by the Presidents of Brazil, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Italy, Paraguay, Slovenia, Venezuela and Zimbabwe.
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