Biodiversity for Food Security around the world
Each year on 16 October, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations celebrates World Food Day in commemoration of its founding on that day in 1945 at Quebec City, Canada.
The theme for World Food Day and TeleFood campaign for 2004 is "Biodiversity for Food Security". It highlights biodiversity's role in ensuring that people have sustainable access to enough high-quality food to lead active and healthy lives. Biological diversity is fundamental to agriculture and food production. People rely on the variety of food, shelter, and goods for their livelihood.
Reports received from countries indicate the amount and level of enthusiasm and creativity generated by the theme and the remarkable mobilization of governments and all sectors of civil society wanting to have their voices heard on World Food Day.
A variety of events on the WFD theme were held at FAO in the week leading up to World Food Day. These included, inter alia, a training workshop organized by the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS); a Youth Forum involving students, youth, young professionals and other organized groups; a photo and art exhibit and a piano recital, organized by the FAO Staff Coop. There was a WFD Exhibit on the theme, as well as an exhibit on the International Year of the Rice.
Two flagship activities were the World Food Day observance at FAO Headquarters in Rome on 15 October and the other was the World Food Day special ceremony at the United Nations in New York.
WFD Ceremony at FAO Headquarters
This year's ceremony in Rome saw as keynote speaker, President of the Republic of Hungary, His Excellency Ferenc Màdl. The FAO Director-General opened the ceremony with his traditional WFD address. Dignitaries participating to the ceremony included Honourable Terensio Delfino Under-Secretary of State, Ministry for Agricultural and Forestry Policies of Italian Republic and the Most Reverend Monsignor Renato Volante, the Permanent Observer of the Holy See to FAO who read a message from His Holiness, Pope John Paul II and the statement by a Farmer Leader, Mr. Mamadou Cissokho, Honorary President of the Network of Peasant Organizations and Producers of West Africa and of the National Council of Senegal for Dialogue and Rural Cooperation. The Director-General awarded a special FAO Medal to Mr. Edouard Saouma, former FAO Director-General and the World Food Day 2004 medals to the winners of the WFD poster contest of the United Nations Women's Guild.
During the same ceremony, Dr. Diouf introduced the newly appointed FAO Goodwill Ambassador, the Italian world-renowned classic dancer, Carla Fracci, Director of the Balletto dell'Opera of Rome.
A musical presentation took place at the end of the Plenary Hall ceremony. The internationally-renowned Albanian violinist Anyla Kraja performed in a masterpiece of the classic repertoire "Schindler's list" by J. Williams, while Angolan singer and dancer Tasha Rodrigues and her musical group performed two songs from her latest compact disc "Kyra Kyra".
Farmers and Civil Society Organizations Speak
Immediately after the above ceremony, a Farmers' Event to Celebrate Biodiversity and Food Security was held in the FAO Atrium, organized by the Inter-departmental Working Group on Biodiversity and with the cooperation of the NGO "Slow Food". The facilitator was Mr. Matthew Fort, Food and Drink Editor of The Guardian (United Kingdom). The speakers were: Mamadou Moctar Sow, Guinea, who spoke about saving the néré tree and generating income for Peulh women; Sae Bong Ryu, Republic of Korea, who mentioned the upholding of the historic jukbang technique of anchovy fishing and making available a competitive, environmentally-responsible and highly-valued produce; Pablo Jara, Chile who elaborated on revitalizing quinoa as a recovery of the identity of the Mapuche ethnic group; Jesùs Garzòn, Spain who explained about conserving the mountain environment, transhumance and traditions; and Fabio Brugnoli, Italy, who spoke about using the ecosystem approach for organic vineyards.
A Civil Society forum was held on 15 October at 15.00 hrs on the topic, "What Policies for Biodiversity and Food Sovereignty: Civil Society Views Opportunities and Threats". The speakers were: Mamadou Cissokho, Sergio Marini, Vice-President, Coldiretti, Italy; Maryam Rahmanian, CENESTA-Centre for Sustainable Development & Environment, Iran; Jean Marc Von der Weid, Assessoria e Serviços em Agricultura Alternativa - ASPTA, Brazil; Sarogeni Renjam from Malaysia for the People's Caravan for Food Sovereignty, Asia;Alvaro Mendez, as a spokesperson for the Youth Forum.
WFD Exhibit and the International Alliance Against Hunger
The leading partners of the International Alliance against Hunger participated in a two-week exhibit set up in the FAO Atrium. The opening of the Exhibit was held on 12 October moderated by Ms. Eva Clayton, Assistant Director-General/Special Adviser on World Food Summit Follow-Up, with the following speakers: Mr. David Harcharik Deputy Director-General, FAO; Dr. Emile Frison, Director-General, IPGRI; Ms. Karen Serres, President of the Committee of Women Farmers of the IFAP; Mr. Allan Jury, Director of External Affairs of WFP; and Mr. Phrang Roy, Assistant President for External Affairs of IFAD.
WFD Observance at the United Nations
The WFD observance at the United Nations in New York was held on 18 October 2004. The main speakers included: the President of the Fifty-Ninth Session of the General Assembly, H.E. Mr. Jean Ping, the President of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), H.E. Ms. Marjatta Rasi. Ms. Louise Frechette, UN Deputy Secretary-General; and the statement by the FAO Director-General, Dr. Jacques Diouf.
Young students participated in the ceremony through a Video Conference with Mexican students, hosted in Mexico by the University of Guadalajara, with children from New York and Pennsylvania who discussed the results of their school garden activities through the "Growing Connection Pilot Project"). The ceremony ended with a musical performance by a band, "Dan Zanes & Friends". All guests were invited to the unveiling of an Exhibit on the work of FAO and the CGIAR Centers on "Food Security and Biodiversity" at the Public Lobby at United Nations Headquarters.
World Food Day Observances around the world
In addition to the celebrations in Rome and New York, country-level activities around the world commemorate World Food Day each year. Some countries have just started to observe WFD such as the Ukraine and Micronesia.
Many FAO national committees from the newly emerging economies in Eastern Europe made a special effort to undertake a series of activities involving a wide range of actors from the governmental and non-governmental sectors. The Croatian Parliament provided patronage for an event organized by the Ministry of Science, Education and Sport while in Georgia, children from an Orphanage participated in a performance in Tbilisi.
A whole range of diverse WFD activities in Bolivia and Peru were organized by government and civil society organizations. Peruvian universities organized seminars and expositions on local products. In Bolivia, a major Exposition on the theme was organized with more than 2000 visitors. In Brazil, the FAO Director-General participated together with President Lula in the launch of over 50 events for the week of WFD. In the Dominican Republic, a joint celebration for WFD and the International Year of Rice was organized. In Cuba, a major farmers' mobilization effort was launched together with a food exposition and a concert.
In Western Europe, the Swedish National FAO Committee organized a WFD seminar for parliamentarians, NGOs and the media and a technical meeting was held in the agricultural university. In Germany, a Photo Exhibition by GTZ in Berlin provided an insight into biodiversity and food security. In Italy, the national WFD committee coordinated a series of symposia and events involving public and private institutions such as those organized with the Ministry of the Interior, the Universities of Bologna and Perugia and the National NGO Association.
In Mali, a high-level ceremony involving the Prime Minister was organized with the participation of FAO Goodwill Ambassador Oumou Sangaré. In Nigeria, a major Exhibition was held displaying agricultural inputs, In Ethiopia, sixteen outstanding farmers and fifteen extension workers from sixteen districts in East Harerge zone were awarded prizes and certificates for their best performance in their respective wordesa. In South Africa, women farmer producers were recognized during the WFD event.
In Egypt, a technical workshop on the theme was held for WFD and distinguished scientists and others were awarded WFD medals. In Jordan, children who won prizes for the drawing contest received prizes during the WFD Celebration.
In India, there was an Essay competition and an Elocution contest while in Fiji some 1300 students and their teachers participated in the WFD national celebration which included, speeches, songs, a poem on the theme, multi-cultural and island dances, and a fruit-eating competition. In the Philippines, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, awarded prizes and certificates to the winners of the WFD poster contest, the outstanding nutrition awardees and the outstanding agricultural producer at the Malacanang Presidential Palace.
The 21st WFD Teleconference was broadcast live from Washington DC, USA. Dr. Jacques Diouf, Director-General said in his speech at Howard University School of Law on 19 October 2004, that biodiversity is an inevitable component of food security in a world where the population is estimated to increase by 50 percent in the next 50 years, from six billion to nine billion people. He emphasized that "the pressure is on us to find ways to feed the population, and to increase agricultural production without further depleting the earth's natural resources." This reminder that Biodiversity is a key ally in fighting hunger and malnutrition has been fully illustrated in this year's WFD activities at both grassroots and global levels.
Other examples and more information on WFD country activities are provided through the WFD News and Events Management System (tab above: Country activities).