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Rome, October 16, 2000 . - "We have no time to waste if we are to make the vision of a world free from hunger become a reality," the UN Food and Agriculture Organization's Director-General, Dr. Jacques Diouf, said today during a ceremony at FAO's headquarters on the occasion of World Food Day.

"It is time to begin aggressively pursuing the objectives set by the World Food Summit. This will require the determination of governments, working alongside intergovernmental institutions, the private sector, NGOs and civil society," Dr Diouf underlined.

At the World Food Summit (Rome-November 1996), leaders of 186 countries committed themselves to cutting the number of undernourished by at least half by 2015.

"However, we know that the current rate of progress in reducing the number of undernourished is not sufficient to meet the World Food Summit goal," the UN agency chief said, adding that "the elimination of hunger and malnutrition must be adopted as a primary goal of national social and economic development."

At the same ceremony, the keynote speaker, Prime Minister of Barbados Owen Seymour Arthur, urged FAO Member States to seriously bear in mind the need to follow up the commitments made at the World Food Summit in 1996 and called on all concerned to accelerate the annual reduction in the number of hungry people worldwide from 8 million to 20 million in order to cut by half the number of undernourished by 2015.

Italian Minister of Agriculture and Forests Alfonso Pecoraro Scanio also emphasized the need for more efforts aimed at ending the vicious circle of hunger and poverty. A message from Pope John Paul II, read by Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, also stressed the need to put an end to hunger and poverty early in the new millenium.

The Pope's message was followed by a report by Ms. Carleen Gardner, FAO's Assistant Director-General, General Affairs and Information Department, on major World Food Day/Telefood events in FAO's host country, Italy, and in several other Member States.

Ms Gardner declared: "The heart of the World Food Day operation continues to be found in the numerous and varied activities organized in some 150 countries each year at the national and grasroots levels, through a network of World Food Day and Telefood national commitees and focal points." She mentioned, among various activities, national ceremonies, numerous round tables, dozens of exhibits and fairs and information and awareness building campaigns.

Telefood is an annual campaign of broadcasts, concerts and other events dedicated to reducing the number of hungry people in the world. It harnesses the power of individuals, including renowned actors, singers and athletes, to get FAO's message out to the public.

To mark this year's World Food Day, FAO named famous Chinese actress Gong Li and popular Senegalese singer Youssou N'Dour Ambassadors of the Organization. The newly-appointed Ambassadors expressed public support for FAO's efforts in its fight against world hunger and pledged to make personal appeals through public appearances and radio/TV spots in support of FAO's field projects, including Telefood micro-projects.

Gong Li embodies a new generation of Chinese women, brought up amid old traditions but reaching towards feminist values and, in spite of her young age, her name is already becoming a legend.

Youssou N'Dour has devoted countless hours to humanitarian activities, for which he has earned the love and admiration of people all over the world. Among others, he has been associated with UNESCO, the International Red Cross and the UN anti-mine programme. He is Chevalier de l'Ordre national du mérite du Sénégal and was designated the best African artist of the century.

Gong Li and Youssou N'Dour join the four Ambassadors appointed last year, for the first time, by FAO. These are Nobel Laureate Rita Levi Montalcini, South African singer Miriam Makeba, American jazz singer Dee Dee Bridgewater and Italian actress Gina Lollobrigida.

This year's World Food Day theme, "A Millenium free from Hunger", is meant to focus attention on the need for urgent action to free the world from chronic hunger and undernutrition. According to FAO, 826 million people around the world still do not get enough to eat in a time of unprecedented plenty.

Coinciding with World Food Day, FAO today launched in London, Washington, Nairobi, Bangkok, Berlin, Dublin, Rome and several other cities its annual report The State of Food Insecurity in the World (SOFI 2000) in which the UN specialized agency stresses that unless extra efforts are made to accelerate progress, the World Food Summit goal of cutting the number of undernourished to 400 million by 2015 will not be achieved before 2030 - i.e.15 years late.

After the World Food Day ceremony, Italian Agriculture and Forests Minister Pecoraro Scanio opened an international round table with participants from civil society, focusing on the theme: "Food security: A challenge for Family Farming."


For further information on World Food Day and Telefood, please consult FAO's website; . Highlights of the World Food Day ceremony at FAO's headquarters are also available on the internet via a webcast that can be accessed on:


1. On 16 October, as the FAO's Member countries around the world were observing the World Food Day, at FAO Headquarters in Rome, FAO Director-General, Dr. Jacques Diouf renewed his appeal to the world community for accelerating the reduction by half of the number of hungry people by 2015. The following is an excerpt from his statement.(Duration:1min14sec)

In Mp 3(Broadcast quality, 576Kb to be downloaded)

In Realaudio(Instant play, 153Kb)

2. Prime Minister of Barbados, Owen Seymour Arthur, was the guest of honour of the Rome ceremony and in his keynote address, he reaffirmed the Caribbean Community's moral engagement to ensure Food Security. (Duration: 1min23sec)

In Mp 3(Broadcast quality, 649Kb to be downloaded)

In Realaudio (Instant play, 173 Kb)

3. At a World Food Day ceremony, in Rome, Chinese actress Gong Li and Youssou N'Dour have been nominated new ambassadors of the Organization. Like Miriam Makeba, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Gina Lollobrigida and Rita Levi Montalcini, since a year ago, they will help spreading a message of solidarity with the rural poor and call for urgent action to eradicate hunger in the world.

Listen now to:

-Gong Li (40sec in Chinese with English translation)

In mp3 (Broadcast quality, 313 Kb to be downloaded)

In realaudio (Instant play, 85 Kb)

-Dee Dee Bridgewater( 1min25sec with a song's excerpt)

In mp3 (Broadcast quality, 665Kb to be downloaded)

In realaudio (Instant play, 221Kb)

-Miriam Makeba (36sec.)

In mp3 (Broadcast quality, 273Kb to be downloaded)

In Realaudio (Instant play, 75Kb)

Instructions for listening to audio files:

To play the RealAudio files requires the RealPlayer software, see (RealPlayer 8 Basic is free)

To play the mp3 files requires any mp3 player software: Winamp, Windows
Media player, Quicktime 4.0;RealplayerG2, etc...

All free on the Web:; ;

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