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Press Release 01/68


Rome, 12 October, 2001 - Singers Magida Al Roumi of Lebanon, Gilberto Gil of Brazil, Mory Kanté of Guinea, and Al Bano Carrisi of Italy will be nominated as Ambassadors of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the food agency announced today. The singers will participate in the 2001 World Food Day Ceremony on Tuesday, October 16, at FAO Headquarters in Rome. The event marks the anniversary of the founding of FAO in Quebec City, Canada in 1945.

FAO Ambassadors express support for FAO's fight against hunger in the world and call upon the public to help poor people around the world "break out of the vicious circle of chronic hunger and undernourishment."

The President of Germany, Johannes Rau, Italian Minister of Agriculture Gianni Alemanno and FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf will address the October 16 ceremony. The Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See to FAO, Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, will deliver a message from Pope John Paul II. Queen Fabiola of Belgium will be awarded with the FAO Ceres Medal.

This year marks the launch of the first North American World Food Day/TeleFood campaign to heighten awareness about the plight of some 800 million hungry people in developing countries.

The North American campaign, Groundwork 2001,* consists of a week long series of concerts and community events in Seattle, Washington from 14-22 October. Renowned musicians R.E.M., Michael Franti & Spearhead, Pearl jam, Alanis Morissette, Dave Mathews, Femi Kuti, Emmylou Harris, Mana, Blind Boys of Alabama, Daniel Lanois, Ann and Nancy Wilson - Heart, Artis the Spoonman and many others are scheduled to perform.

This year's World Food Day theme, "Fight Hunger to Reduce Poverty," gives voice to increasing economic evidence contained in recent FAO studies that the single most effective way to reduce poverty is to end hunger.

FAO will issue the third edition of its hunger report, "The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2001," on World Food Day. The report documents progress in the fight against hunger.

A Round Table discussion, with participants from civil society organizations will look at the Right to Food, food sovereignty, agricultural production models and access to resources.

In his World Food Day message, Dr. Diouf said, "Almost 800 million people in the developing world remain locked in a desperate cycle of hunger and poverty. To reduce those numbers I believe we must acknowledge the intricate connection between the two problems. While hunger is a consequence of poverty, the opposite is also true: Hunger causes poverty."

World Food Day was first observed by FAO in 1981 to raise public awareness of the urgent need to find a lasting solution to the problem of global hunger and malnutrition. This year, more than 150 countries have planned a variety of events to mark World Food Day and Telefood, including a global TeleConference from Washington, DC, and a high-level Seminar with the Crown Princess of Thailand, Maha Chakri Sirindhorn in Bangkok.

More than 30 countries will participate in a global teach in to encourage children and youth to get actively involved in creating a world free from hunger and malnutrition. Feeding Minds, Fighting Hunger, developed by an international coalition of partners, including FAO, UNESCO, the World Bank and Newsweek, will launch a global education campaign providing model lesson plans and resource materials on such topics as What are Hunger and Malnutrition? Who is Malnourished? Why is there Hunger and What Can We Do To Help End Hunger?**


* Groundwork is made possible with the generous support of Adobe Systems Incorporated. For more information on concerts and related events please visit
** The Feeding Minds Fighting Hunger teaching materials are available in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Italian and Spanish on the internet at The lessons are also available in some languages on CD-Rom and in print.

The World Food Day Ceremony is open for coverage by the media.
When: Ceremony begins at 10h30, Tuesday 16 October 2001
Where: Plenary Hall at FAO Headquarters, Viale delle Terme di Caracalla

Two News Conferences will follow the Ceremony as part of World Food Day activities.

News Conference 1:
Hartwig de Haen, Assistant Director-General, Economic and Social Department, will hold a news conference on the just released State of Food Insecurity in the World 2001 (SOFI 2001).
Time and Place: 12h30 Iran Room, building B, FAO HQ
Language interpretation: Arabic, English, French, Spanish and Italian

News Conference 2:
FAO Ambassadors, singers Magida Al Roumi of Lebanon, Gilberto Gil of Brazil, Mory Kanté of Guinea, and Al Bano Carrisi of Italy will meet the media.
Time land Place: 14h30 Iran Room, building B, FAO HQ
Language interpretation: Arabic, English, French Spanish and Italian.

For further information on World Food Day please contact the FAO Media Relations Office at telephone number: +39 065705 3625, or the FAO web site at:

Message of the Director-General on World Food Day 2001
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