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Press Release 99/25

FAO ANNOUNCES THEME FOR WORLD FOOD DAY/TELEFOOD 1999:
"YOUTH AGAINST HUNGER"


Rome, 3 May - "Youth against Hunger" will be the theme of this year's World Food Day and TeleFood campaign aimed at raising public awareness and mobilizing civil society in the struggle against world hunger and malnutrition, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) announced today.

This year's World Food Day observance will be held on 15 October at FAO headquarters in Rome. The event will coincide with the main TeleFood '99 events, which will take place in dozens of countries from October through December. The highlight of TeleFood '99 will be a concert in Jamaica, bringing together renowned musicians from the Caribbean, Brazil and Africa. The concert will be broadcast worldwide on 4 December.

The theme of World Food Day/TeleFood was selected to underline the important contributions and potential of young men and women in achieving the objective of the November 1996 World Food Summit -- to reduce by half the present level of more than 800 million chronically undernourished people in the world by the year 2015.

Young people between the ages of 15 and 24 -- numbering more than one billion worldwide -- can make a significant contribution towards reducing, and perhaps even eliminating, hunger and malnutrition, says FAO.

Eighty-five percent of these youths live in developing countries, with 60 percent in Asia. With adequate training, support and access to resources and services, these young men and women can become innovative and productive partners to achieve national goals of food security.

Young people in urban areas and in developed countries can also play a decisive part in the war against hunger by pressuring governments to live up to the commitments made at the World Food Summit and by dedicating part of their energy and imagination to local, national and global efforts to achieve "food for all".

Regardless of differences in their circumstances, says FAO, youth in developed and developing countries share many of the same aspirations and concerns. They also frequently face similar obstacles and problems, including high rates of unemployment and vulnerability to sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies.

Urgent action must be taken, FAO says, to improve young people's access to essential resources and services, such as land, training and credit. Involving youth in programmes for sustainable rural development could serve both to slow the pace of migration to cities and to increase production and availability of food in the areas where it is most needed.

World Food Day marks the founding of FAO on 16 October 1945 in Quebec City, Canada, and has been observed worldwide on or around this date since 1981. Special events and ceremonies are organized in more than 150 countries on this occasion. Observances planned for this year include a teleconference in Washington, D.C. (15 October) and a special ceremony at UN headquarters in New York on 18 October.

Launched in 1997, TeleFood is a global campaign including television shows broadcast by satellite around the world and other cultural, musical and artistic events to raise public awareness of the problem of world hunger. It is also a fund-raising campaign which has generated a global solidarity movement uniting governments, non-governmental organizations, civil society, private business, artists and the media, all committed to a single goal: "Food for all". Every penny donated is being used to fund small grassroots development projects benefiting the rural poor in more than 110 countries.

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Further information on World Food Day/TeleFood is available on the FAO website (www.fao.org) or by calling FAO's media branch (tel.: 0039.06.57052232).


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©FAO, 1999