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Events across Europe and Central Asia marked World Food Day 2019

World Food Day, established 40 years ago, is commemorated every year on 16 October – the date on which FAO was founded in 1945. During the month of October, the occasion is used to host a wide variety of popular events around the world.

Word Food Day 2019 continued this tradition with the theme “Our actions are our future,” with the emphasis on the role of healthy diets for a hunger-free world. Here is a selection of some of the events that happened across the Europe and Central Asia region.

Albania

In Tirana, FAO and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development organized a panel discussion entitled "Our actions are our future – healthy diets for a zero hunger world." The UN resident coordinator for Albania, Brian Williams, made opening remarks followed by deputy minister of agriculture and rural development, Ermira Gjeci, and the chairman of the parliamentary committee on health, Enver Roshi. The main topics discussed were climate change and its effects on food sources, the importance of healthy diets and balanced nutrition, the engagement of private sector in nutrition initiatives particularly in schools, as well as legislative efforts to improve the legal framework related to food production, safety controls, and food waste and loss reduction. 

Armenia

Schoolchildren in Lori region of Armenia participated in a healthy cooking competition and other games. Participants learned to make healthy and vitamin-rich salads using raw fruits and vegetables, and eggs. The activity was organized together with the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation. On 22 October in Yerevan, journalists and students were invited to an awareness-raising event on healthy diets and nutrition for journalism students at UN House.

Read the whole article here.

Austria

Vladimir Rakhmanin, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Europe and Central Asia, delivered a well-attended presentation to students entitled “Achieving zero hunger is not only about addressing hunger, but also nourishing people while nurturing the planet.” After the presentation, there was a lively question-and-answer session. The lecture was organized jointly with the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences on the premises of the United Nations Information Service.

Belgium

FAO Brussels expanded its annual celebrations and organized two high-level events engaging the European Parliament, the European Commission, and the Council of the European Union in partnership with the German Agency for International Cooperation and Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. An outreach campaign that included outdoor and train station advertising all over the country, television spots, as well as a photo exhibit in Brussels' most visited shopping arcade, Galerie de la Reine, helped raise the general public’s awareness of this year's theme.

Croatia

The Croatian Agency for Agriculture and Food hosted the “3rd Croatian Food Safety Risk Assessment” conference to mark World Food Day. Gocke Akbalik, an expert in food safety from the FAO office in Budapest, delivered a presentation covering this year's theme. She participated in a panel discussion on “Healthy diet – an ever-increasing challenge” and provided global numbers on obesity and overweightness, the causes and effects of unhealthy diets in the region, and FAO’s actions in the region to enable healthy and sustainable diets for all.

Georgia

The FAO office in Georgia, together with the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture of Georgia, celebrated with government officials, ambassadors, international organizations, non-governmental and private sector groups, and academia. The event focused on traditional Georgian products with Geographical Indications (GIs) – a label that recognizes the clear link between a high-quality product and its place of origin. The National Geographic film Unique Georgian taste was dedicated to traditional agrifood products protected with GI labels. The photo exhibition Taste of home celebrated local culinary traditions and the processes and people that create Georgian cuisine. The exhibition included the 25 best entries of the “Your Shot” competition by National Geographic, with prizes awarded to the three best entries.

Read the whole article here.

Hungary

Events in Hungary started the week before World Food Day itself. On the afternoon of 8 October, FAO's Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia and the Hungarian Ministry of Agriculture invited renowned Austrian and Hungarian experts to present the greatest food challenges of our times and explore solutions for the future, in a lecture hosted by SZIE University in Budapest. Marianne Penker discussed the socio-ecological transformation in food, while Eszter Doma described the Hungarian National Food Chain Safety Office’s experiences. The evening was rounded off by a panel discussion which included FAO food safety and quality officer Mary Kenny.

A record 50 tonnes of donated food products made its way through Budapest toward the city center in a joint event organized by FAO and the Hungarian Foodbank Association. The food was gathered to benefit needy families. The convoy of 20 trucks from several well-known food producers and retailers parked just off Heroes' Square and was welcomed by a press conference and high-level representatives of FAO, the Foodbank, and the Hungarian Ministry of Agriculture.

The FAO Regional Office designed a set of more than a dozen digital stickers on the theme of healthy eating for publishing in collaboration with Viber, the popular instant messaging application. The innovative stickers were released on 15 October with over 300 000 downloads within the first two weeks.

Read the whole article here.

Kazakhstan

FAO in Kazakhstan organized lectures at the Kazakh Agro-Technical University and Nazarbayev University. The head of FAO in Kazakhstan, Kairat Nazhmidenov, along with FAO experts Erlan Syzdykov and Zhanyl Bozayeva, gave presentations on World Food Day key messages, food security and its dimensions, as well as on SDGs where FAO is taking the lead. The audience of students, teachers, agrarian specialists, journalists, and other visitors also had the opportunity to learn about FAO's mission, mandate, and programme of work. 

Kyrgyzstan

The FAO office in Kyrgyzstan co-organized events with several partners throughout October to promote this year's message of healthy eating. Together with the World Food Programme and World Health Organization, informational events in supermarkets explained the importance of and improve people's knowledge on buying the right kind of food attracted keen attention from shoppers. Thematic lectures in various schools and the university brought the message to the younger generation. Events wrapped up on the 25 October with a fair of organic products with key development partners.

North Macedonia

In Skopje, young people took centre stage with a series of activities at Krste Misirkov primary school. The day featured presentations of the FAO children's video animation and activity book. Also included was a presentation of the school garden and its role in growing vegetables and planting fruit trees. The schoolyard was the setting for a healthy food market exhibiting healthy meals prepared by the students, as well as other organic products from local producers. During the event there were dedicated spaces for children to draw their ideas for the World Food Day poster contest. The school kitchen featured a meal preparation workshop where healthy snacks were prepared using fresh produce from the school garden.

Republic of Moldova and Romania

Activities were organized all over Romania and Republic of Moldova. The theme was spread in kindergartens and schools through autumn fairs promoting healthy and home-cooked foods, seasonal and locally produced fruits and vegetables, and food waste reduction methods among children and their parents. 

This year’s message was also shared by the FAO representation in Moldova with UN agencies, the media, and partners from governmental and civil society institutions in libraries, through public discussions, and in open-air markets that brought local producers closer to consumers. Events in hypermarkets measured blood pressure and body weight and determined cholesterol values, raising awareness on the importance of healthy diets. In addition, pro-bono ad placements on the most watched television shows enhanced the media visibility of World Food Day and the poster contest.              

Russian Federation

The FAO liaison office in Moscow teamed up with several organizations to deliver a catalogue of events for all ages. Throughout October and November, a collection of food packages will be donated to Charity Fund Foodbank Rus. Together with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the UN Human Rights, a cooking event was organized between specialists (restaurateurs, chiefs, and gastro-enthusiasts) and disadvantaged people. Those in attendance could learn useful cooking techniques with the final dishes later delivered to those unable to attend. In the British Higher School of Art & Design, a lecture and presentation for 9–13 year olds introduced FAO's children's activity book. Finally, toward the end of the month there will be a masterclass on healthy diets for children of refugees.

Spain

Under the motto "Healthy eating for a zero hunger world," a commemorative event took place in Valencia. María Fernanda Espinosa, outgoing president of the 73rd General Assembly of the United Nations, was the guest of honour. Dignitaries also included the mayor of Valencia, Joan Ribó, High Commissioner of the Government of Spain for the 2030 Agenda, Cristina Gallach, Minister of Agriculture of the Government of Valencia, Nireia Mollá, and director of FAO in Spain, Enrique Yeves.

Read the whole article here.

Switzerland

On 14 October, the FAO liasison office in Geneva kicked off this year's first commemoration activity with an interactive session with Year 6 students of the International School of Geneva at their campus. In her opening speech, FAO Geneva Director Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett spoke on the importance of tackling food waste. The well-attended event included a quiz and tips on healthy and sustainable diets. In Geneva's Cornavin station, FAO, together with the Swiss Federal Office for Agriculture and the Partage Foundation (Geneva Food Bank), hosted a World Food Day exhibition. A photo exhibition in Palais des Nations that ran for two weeks showcased for staff and diplomats existing solutions to reduce all forms of malnutrition and calling for greater global commitment and action to achieve this.

Tajikistan

In Hissor district, FAO staged a healthy diets fair and festival along the theme “healthy diets for all.” Local producers and farmers exhibited their products and shared the positive healthy impacts of their products. Masterclasses taught about healthy and nutritious diets and traditional healthy foods. The event also included a photo zone, a theatrical performance, and quizzes and games for children and adults.

Turkey

Numerous events across Turkey took place throughout the month of October. Events included a joint FAO/WHO symposium held at Fırat University, Elazığ on 4–5 October and the Adana Taste Festival on 5 October. On 10 October, events continued with a joint press conference with WHO at the Grans National Assembly of Turkey, where students of nutrition and dietetics and members of parliament attended. Between 14–18 October, FAO organized panels with provincial directorates of agriculture and forestry, city halls, and chambers of food engineers in Istanbul, Ankara, Bursa, and Kırıkkale provinces. The main event was held on 17 October in Istanbul within the 5th Sustainable Food Summit. The event brought together sector stakeholders, including leading food brands, entrepreneurs, investors, international organizations, and public and civil society. The events concluded on 19 October with the traditional World Food Day Horse Race held at the Turkey Jockey Club.

Read the whole article here.

Ukraine

The celebration started on 10–12 October with the national agroforum “AGROPORT East Kharkiv 2019,” supported by the Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Agriculture and the Kharkiv regional state administration. Special attention was paid to food security and soil health under climate change, as well as implementation of SDGs at the regional level from diversification of the economy at the community level to the social sphere and food safety. On 16 October, the Ministry and FAO organized a press conference. FAO utilized printed media, radio, and TV to increase the visibility of World Food Day and talk about healthy diets, food safety, and food loss and waste. On 23 October, an NGO partner of FAO, ADRA, held a special event on healthy lifestyles and diets for 150 children from the city of Toretsk, located close to the “contact line.”

Uzbekistan

For the first time, World Food Day was commemorated in Uzbekistan. Events kicked off in September with the announcement of the photo contest. More than 450 works were submitted in the categories of healthy food, agricultural production, and agricultural landscape.  

On 16–17 October, Samarkand city hosted an international conference on the national and global challenges of food security. The two-day event was organized by the FAO representation in Uzbekistan and Samarkand State University. Over 200 delegates discussed the current challenges of food and nutritional security, the quality of the food, as well as the encouragement of healthy eating habits among the population.

On 17 October in Tashkent, the FAO representation in Uzbekistan with the Ministry of Agriculture awarded the winners of the photo contest. A photo exhibition on healthy food, agricultural production, and the agricultural landscape was also displayed for public view.

01 November 2019, Budapest, Hungary

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