10 October 2003, Rome -- Creating an International Alliance Against Hunger will be the core theme of this year's World Food Day on 16 October.

World Food Day marks the anniversary of the founding of FAO on 16 October 1945. It will be celebrated with special events in some 150 countries around the world.

In Rome, Jorge Luis Batlle Ibáñez, the President of Uruguay, will address the main World Food Day ceremony, together with the Italian Agriculture and Forestry Policy Minister, Giovanni Alemanno, and FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf. A message from the Pope will also be read.

Twelve celebrities will meet in Rome to discuss the problem of world hunger.

Expected participants include Magida Al Roumi, Roberto Baggio, Al Bano Carrrisi, Debbie Ferguson, Mory Kanté, Rita Levi Montalcini, Gina Lollobrigida, Miriam Makeba, Youssou N'Dour, Massimo Ranieri, Dionne Warwick and the Italian singers' soccer team. These stars are goodwill Ambassadors for FAO; they will make a special appeal to end hunger in the world.

In the United States of America a World Food Day teleconference will be broadcast live from the studios of George Washington University in Washington D.C. on Thursday, 16 October, at 12:00 EDT.

The topic is, Collaboration or Calamity: Africa in Peril. Dr. Catherine Bertini, former Executive Director of the World Food Programme and recipient of the 2003 World Food Prize, will be on the program. There will also be videotaped remarks from the US Ambassador to FAO, Tony Hall.

Nations need to mobilize political will

"The International Alliance Against Hunger is a way to push aside apathy and indifference and usher in a new era of cooperation and action, to decrease and ultimately eliminate the scourge of hunger," FAO said in a statement.

"In this time of ample world food production it is unacceptable that more than 840 million people remain hungry," the UN agency said. "Too many children die before adulthood, too many adults never reach their full potential, too many nations are stalled on the road to development."

And the progress of reducing the number of hungry by 2015, as agreed by the World Food Summit in 1996, is painfully slow.

"Nations need to mobilize political will and work harder to create the policy environment, provide the funding and implement the programmes to allow people to overcome hunger and poverty. To this end, the international community has resolved to work together within an International Alliance Against Hunger. A global partnership is needed to reduce poverty and to guarantee the basic human right - the right to food."

The Alliance brings together many different groups, including food producers and consumers, international organizations, governments, agribusiness, scientists, academics, private individuals, policy makers, religious groups and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

Civil society organizations will present their anti-hunger and poverty campaigns at a meeting on the afternoon of Thursday 16th at FAO Headquarters in Rome.

The Japan FAO Association will hold a World Food Day Symposium in Tokyo.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva will host a special World Food Day/ Zero Hunger Ceremony in Brasilia.

In Ireland, a World Food Day Seminar will be organized by GORTA, the Irish Freedom from Hunger Campaign.

In South Africa, a national competition to select a Female Farmer of the Year will be held.

In New York, at the United Nations, a World Food Day ceremony will be held on 17 October.

Pierre Antonios
Information Officer, FAO
(+39) 06 570 53473