Your Majesty, Queen Fabiola of Belgium,
Your Excellency Johannes Rau, President of the Federal Republic of Germany
Your Excellency Gianni Alemanno, Italian Minister of Agricultural and Forestry Policies
Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to FAO
Mr Director-General, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
World Food Day is the anniversary of the founding of FAO. On this day, people in more than 150 countries join together to recognize the important mandate given to our Organization 56 years ago.
This year, with the theme of fight hunger to reduce poverty, we reflect on the progress made in reducing hunger and malnutrion; and the further work to be done to eradicate them from the planet. We also join in solidarity with the international community in the fight against the scourge of poverty.
Here in Italy, FAO celebrates the 50th Anniversary with the Government of Italy as our host. Under the leadership of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the
Ministry of Agriculture of Italy and other institutions, a wide range of activities has been organized. For example, in Florence, there will be a photo exhibit and in Rome there will be a Roundtable discussion on: Problems of Food and Nutrition in Developing Countries.
A nation-wide campaign in schools throughout Italy is underway to enable Italian children to learn more about FAO and its work. For the Italian public, the World
Food Day message will be carried on telephone cards; and a new stamp will be issued carrying the message:
Fight hunger to reduce poverty.
And at FAO, the FAO Staff Coop has organized cultural events and an exposition of international foods.
Later this afternoon, our own FAO Ambassadors will graciously perform at a concert in the Atrium.
Because FAO accords the highest importance to disseminating agricultural information to member countries, FAO's World Agricultural Information Centre (WAICENT) is now major element of World Food Day celebrations all around the world. In Cuba, Jamaica and Venezuela, WAICENT will bring together major development partners to learn how to use FAO's vast information resources on the Web. The World Food Day website, available in the official languages and Italian allows FAO field offices and World Food Day promoters and partners to share information about their World Food Day activities.
Far away, in Africa, Asia and Latin America, many many, events are taking place. For example, in Eritrea, farmers will meet officials from the Ministry of
Agriculture to explain the challenges they face in improving the productivity of their land.
In Brazil, the National Senate will hold a solemn ceremony and a TV debate to discuss the ways to fight hunger and poverty.
In Thailand, the Crown Princess of Thailand is presiding over the observance organized in the FAO Regional
Office in Bangkok, where the efforts of farmer-producers from around the region are being recognized.
In the South Pacific island of Niue, a public awareness campaign and a food contest involving various ethnic groups are being conducted.
In Europe, media programmes on WFD have been organized in Denmark, Finland, Hungary, the Slovak
Republic and Romania. In the UK, a food awareness week is being organized and in Belgium a major exposition with a special focus on food security is going on.
Across the Altantic Ocean, in North America, young people are flocking to Seattle, Washington, USA, where there will be a TeleFood concert, featuring well known rock music stars. This concert will be beamed by satellite to television stations around the world later in the year.
More than 30 countries will participate in a global teach-in to launch "Feeding Minds, Fighting Hunger" model lesson plans for school children on hunger and malnutrition.
Indeed, World Food Day activities around the world take
various forms; but they all share the same goal:
It is a great tradition in FAO on World Food Day to recognize our partners in the global movement against hunger:
who are in the vanguard to promote "Food for All".
On this day, we pause to recognize their efforts; on this day, we express our thanks to them; on this day, we salute them.