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Press Release 00/41

FAO ANNOUNCES THEME FOR WORLD FOOD DAY 2000:
"A MILLENNIUM FREE FROM HUNGER"
THE UN AGENCY CALLS FOR URGENT ACTION TO ELIMINATE UNDERLYING CAUSES OF HUNGER


Rome, 13 July 2000.-"A Millennium Free from Hunger" will be the theme of this year's World Food Day to be observed on October 16, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) announced today.

The agency called for immediate action to eliminate the underlying causes of chronic hunger, a global problem that now affects about 800 million people worldwide.

The theme of World Food Day 2000 invokes both a vision and a challenge. The vision is to achieve the objective of ensuring food for all during the new millennium. The challenge is to make the vision a reality.

To free the new millennium from hunger, urgent action must be taken on many fronts not just to provide food for the hungry but to permanently eliminate the problem. According to FAO, ending hunger will require, among other things, increasing agricultural productivity, raising the incomes of rural communities, improving access to food and ensuring that developing countries participate fairly in global trade.

Hunger not only cuts short the lives and hopes of individuals but the peace and prosperity of nations. Studies suggest that hunger and micronutrient deficiencies decrease children's learning capacity by up to 10 per cent and cost developing countries up to US$ 128 billion per year in productivity losses alone, according to FAO.

The latest figures show that the number of hungry people was reduced by 8 million per year during the first half of the 1990's. This is less than half the rate needed to reach the goal set by the 1996 World Food Summit of reducing the number of hungry people by half by the year 2015. If this trend persists, nearly 700 million people will still suffer from chronic hunger in the year 2015, FAO underlined.

Each year on World Food Day, FAO focuses its efforts to promote broader public awareness of the global problem of hunger and malnutrition. World Food Day 2000 will be marked by a traditional ceremony at FAO headquarters while awareness-raising events will be organized in some 150 countries. At the Rome ceremony, a key-note address focusing on progress in combating hunger and malnutrition will be delivered by a prominent personality. A special World Food Day ceremony will also be held at the United Nations in New York.

On the same day, a number of new "FAO Ambassadors" will be nominated to participate in the Telefood campaign against world hunger. The Ambassadors, chosen from among celebrities from the worlds of science, sports and the arts, will express public support for FAO's fight to break the vicious circle of chronic hunger and undernourishment.

Last year, for the first time, FAO nominated four Ambassadors. These were: Nobel Prize laureate Rita Levi Montalcini, Italian actress Gina Lollobrigida, American jazz singer Dee Dee Bridgewater and South African singer Miriam Makeba.

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For further information on World Food Day, please contact FAO's media relations branch (tel. 0039.06.57052232) or consult: http://www.fao.org/wfd/wfd2000-e.htm


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