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Director-General  José Graziano da Silva
A statement by FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva
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My dear friends from the CIHEAM, from the International Foundation of the Mediterranean Diet, from the Union for the Mediterranean,

Ladies and gentlemen,

I am delighted with this opportunity to address this important event.

I am happy that this is organized also with the technical collaboration of FAO.

As you know, after a decade of progress in the fight for food security, world hunger is on the rise again.

The number of undernourished people have increased from 804 million in 2016 to 821 million in 2017 mainly due to conflicts and to the impacts of climate change, especially prolonged droughts.

But the world is no longer concerned only with hunger.

We are now experiencing a form of malnutrition that is even more worrisome: the epidemics of obesity.

While around one person out of every nine in the world is hungry, more than 672 million adults are obese which means more than one out of ten people.

Unfortunately, according to some projections, if we keep business-as-usual half of humanity will be obese or overweight in 2030 - the deadline for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

Poor and unhealthy food are increasingly being associated as major causes of chronic diseases and death.

At the same time, climate change, biodiversity loss and the deterioration of natural resources are seriously undermining our ability to feed and nourish an ever-growing global population.

In this context, the Mediterranean Diet is recognized as a healthy dietary pattern linked to better health outcomes.

This is due to its diversity and to the intensive use of vegetables fruits and fish.

Besides, UNESCO has declared the Mediterranean Diet as one of the world’s intangible cultural heritage.

It is a model that holds environmental, social and economic benefits.

The Mediterranean Diet is more than a reference nutritional model.

It is also the expression of the culture and lifestyle of the Mediterranean people carried out by centuries.  

From the field to the plate, the Mediterranean diet offers extraordinary economic opportunities and provides sustainable jobs respectful of people and ecosystems.

In fact, the rich food culture and culinary heritage in the Mediterranean region opens immense opportunities for us.

It enables knowledge sharing and development of innovative approaches on healthy diets and sustainable food systems.

It can be a powerful lever for sustainable rural development.

I am confident that FAO, CIHEAM and all our other partners will seize those opportunities through positive dialogue and partnerships.

I wish you a great success in the Conference.

Thank you for your attention.