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Director-General  José Graziano da Silva
A statement by FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva
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G7 Health Ministers’ Meeting 

FAO is honored to address this G7 Health Ministerial Meeting, conducted under the Italian Presidency.

Ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all, the Sustainable Development Goal number 3, is a central element of the Agenda 2030.

But to achieve this objective, healthy and adequate nutrition is fundamental. 

Healthy lives are based on healthy diets.

The SDG 3 – good health and well-being - goes hand-in-hand with the SDG number 2 on eradicating hunger and all forms of malnutrition in the world.

And it is our collective responsibility to ensure that every person on this planet has access to food that is safe, sufficient and nutritious.

We face an uphill challenge.

Today, about one in three persons globally suffers from at least one form of malnutrition:
be it hunger, micronutrient deficiencies, or overweight and obesity.

Last month, FAO and its partners WHO, UNICEF, IFAD and WFP launched together the 2017 edition of “The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World”.

The report indicates that the number of chronically undernourished people in the world increased to 815 million in 2016. This is 38 million people more than in 2015 (777 million), the main drivers for this rise are conflict and climate change.

In addition, more than 2 billion people suffered from one or more micronutrient deficiencies.

And at the same time, nearly 1.9 billion adults are overweight, of whom 600 million were obese.

Unless we take urgent and effective action, more than half of the world population will suffer from at least one type of malnutrition by 2030.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The only way to fight malnutrition is to bring together actors from many sectors at global, regional and national levels.

This is why FAO co-organized with WHO the Second International Conference on Nutrition, the ICN2, in November 2014.

The ICN2 had a massive turnout, with the participation of the governments, international organizations, civil society, the private sector, research institutions and academia. 

In April last year, the United Nations General Assembly endorsed the outcomes of the ICN2, and proclaimed 2016-2025 as the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition.

The Nutrition Decade provides a cohesive framework for the implementation of the ICN2 commitments, along with the SDGs.

Excellencies,

Transforming food systems to promote healthy diets means taking action in each step of the food chain, from farm to fork.

This also includes the implementation of clear responsibilities for the advertisement and information of food products.

People must be aware about the pros and cons of what they are eating, and also be encouraged to eat healthy food.

So promoting healthy diets is not only about material things, but also immaterial aspects of a food system, such as consumer behavior and culture.

This is very important nowadays because fast urbanization is stimulating a dietary transition towards more processed food in general.

Fortunately, many cities of the world are becoming more and more aware of the importance of promoting local markets and also local fresh products.

This was one of the main results of the 3rd Mayors` Summit of the Milan Urban Food Police Pact, that took place in Valencia, Spain, just some weeks ago.

The Milan Pact was signed by more than 150 cities aimed the promoting healthy food and healthy diets for their populations.

Unfortunately, I like to say that we have outsourced the responsibility for feeding ourselves.

People in big cities rely too much on packaged and frozen things, for instance.

We have to encourage them to buy fresh food, and check the quality and take responsibly for the food they are eating.

It is a big challenge. But I have seen that more and more people trying to find time to prepare their own food again, like our grandmothers have always did.

Excellencies,

FAO and WHO have also been working together under the banner of the “One Health” approach.

An important focus is combatting the rising threat of animal diseases transmissible to humans, such as avian influenza or Ebola, and also the emergence of antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

Antimicrobial resistance is a critical One Health issue, directly connected to public and animal health, safe production systems and environmental stewardship.

To support action on the ground, FAO has developed a 5-year Action Plan to tackle AMR in food and agriculture.

Ensuring food safety is fundamental in a world that food supply chain has become global.

In fact, any food safety incident nowadays has global negative effects not only on public health, but also on trade and the economy.

The FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius Commission plays a leading role in setting international food standards to protect the health of consumers and ensure fair practices of food trade.

As you all know, there is no food security without food safety, and vice-versa.

Excellencies,

I conclude here my presentation. I thank once more the Italian Presidency of the G7 for the invitation to participate in this meeting today.

Thank you for your attention.

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