Press Release 97/37

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Press Release 97/37

FAO AND RAI LAUNCH TELEFOOD GLOBAL TELECAST; 60 COUNTRIES TO LINK ON “FOOD FOR ALL” THEME; CELEBRITIES JOIN FAO’S “APPEAL AGAINST WORLD HUNGER”


ROME, September 30 - Television stations in 60 countries are expected to link up on October 19 for the first TeleFood global telecast dedicated to the theme of “Food for All”. Organized by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in collaboration with the Italian broadcasting company RAI, TeleFood aims to involve people everywhere in the fight against hunger.

FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf, who held a press conference today at FAO’s Rome headquarters to discuss the initiative, said: “TeleFood has one major objective: to raise awareness of the scale of the problem and encourage solidarity in the fight against hunger. In addition we will also try to mobilize resources in a few countries for practical projects and programmes to do something about it.

“Having enough to eat is the most basic of human rights. The fight against hunger is not an issue of charity; it is an issue of justice. Through TeleFood, we are looking for global solidarity and support in that fight.”

TeleFood is one of several initiatives by FAO taking place in October to mobilize world public opinion in the war on hunger. Others include concerts and an “Appeal against World Hunger” signed by prominent personalities from the art, entertainment, literary, sports and political worlds. Signatories include: Harrison Ford, Placido Domino, John le Carré, Franco Zeffirelli, Riccardo Muti, Jeremy Irons, Pelé, Ken Follett, Gina Lollobrigida, Isabelle Adjani and many others.

Endorsing the aims of the Appeal and of TeleFood, Brazilian soccer superstar Ronaldo said: “TeleFood is about helping to put enough food in the bellies of more than 800 million people who go to bed hungry every night, many of them kids who should be growing fit and strong. It needs the support of all of us.”

At the heart of TeleFood will be 8.5 hours of broadcasting on the RAI 2 channel which will be available for relay by TV stations around the world via the RAI International satellite. The first part of the programme will include film reports from developing countries on the kind of projects which could benefit from TeleFood, celebrity endorsements of the TeleFood initiative, sport and light entertainment aimed at a younger audience.

The second half of the transmission will be dedicated to a gala concert at the Sala Nervi in the Vatican, with a star cast headed by Italian singer Andrea Bocelli and including a contribution from famed Spanish tenor José Carreras. The concert will be followed by a half-hour discussion programme on food security issues.

“It is important that people at all levels are made aware of the issues underlying food security and how they can contribute to its attainment,” Dr Diouf said. “To achieve this objective, TeleFood needs the broad mobilization of governments, civil society and, not least, professional organizations, business enterprises and commercial firms as well as celebrities, artists and eminent personalities all over the world.”

The TeleFood initiative was launched to coincide with World Food Day as part of FAO’s follow-up to the 1996 World Food Summit in Rome, at which Heads of State and Government and senior officials from 186 countries agreed that today’s total of more than 800 million hungry and malnourished people in the world, 200 million of them children under five, is intolerable and unacceptable. The Summit’s Rome Declaration pledged to cut this total by half by the year 2015.

In addition to the “Appeal against World Hunger”, which was launched at the Cannes Film festival and has now been signed by more than 100 artists and celebrities, other activities include the World Food Day concert organized by Artu under the patronage of FAO and the City of Rome which will take place at the Colosseum and simultaneously in Havana on October 26.

Dr Diouf has pledged that every dollar raised by the TeleFood appeal will go to providing practical support to rural people in developing countries both through FAO’s Special Programme for Food Security or similar grassroots projects designed to help them grow more food and to protect themselves better against the vagaries of nature. No funds will be diverted to the administration of FAO since these costs are covered by the regular budget of the organization and the whole operation will be subjected to independent auditing.

In his message for this year’s World Food Day, which is dedicated to the theme Investing in Food Security, Dr Diouf made clear that TeleFood is not just a one-off event, but is intended to be a long-term endeavour.

Details of events and television programming in individual countries supporting TeleFood can be found on a special TeleFood Internet site linked to FAO’s site: http://www.fao.org/food


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