The day that has been flagged as the most important day at Expo Milano 2015 is getting closer. In exactly a month the World Exposition in Milan will host the official World Food Day celebrations. The UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, will attend the World Food Day celebrations, as will the President of the Republic of Italy, Sergio Mattarella, who visited Expo 2015 earlier this year on 5 June.
Joining them on the Expo 2015 Auditorium stage will be the man in charge of World Food Day, the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), José Graziano da Silva. The day itself was created to commemorate the founding of the organization on this very date in 1945.
The theme of the official World Food Day ceremony will be “Social Protection and Agriculture: Breaking the Cycle of Rural Poverty”, and how this links with the UN theme for Expo 2015, “The Zero Hunger Challenge · United for a sustainable world”. Among the most symbolic moments of this ceremony will be the official presentation of the Milan Charter to the UN Secretary-General and the “Urban Food Policy Pact”, the two political legacies of Expo Milano 2015.
This year’s celebrations could not have been held anywhere but at Expo Milano 2015, the global event on nutrition and sustainable food production, making it a high point for the World Exposition. There are other events that make this day particularly significant: 16 October marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of FAO and is poised between the World Summit of the United Nations in September, during which the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda will be adopted, and the United Nations Conference on Climate Change in December, where a binding universal agreement on climate change is expected to be reached.
Since the UN System’s participation at Expo Milano 2015 was announced in 2011, the importance of this year as a turning point for both the UN and the global community has been highlighted repeatedly: the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are coming to an end and the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for the coming 15 years will be launched. The second of these new goals –to eradicate hunger, achieve food security, improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture – fully embodies the Zero Hunger Challenge, an initiative created by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in 2012, and later adopted by the UN System as the theme for their participation at Expo Milano 2015.
The protagonists in the days leading up to the World Food Day will be students: with the start of the school year, field trips will bring students of all ages and grade levels to crowd Expo Milano 2015 and in particular Pavilion Zero, one of the fundamental stops on the UN Itinerary.
The youth of today will also be protagonists of World Food Day: the generation that is frequently termed the Zero Hunger Generation will receive a strong message to involve them in the challenge of eliminating hunger and poverty in the next 15 years.