Working together for an International Alliance against Hunger
World Food Day celebrates the anniversary of the founding of FAO on 16 October 1945. Some 150 countries around the world join in this observance each year. On 16 October 2003, celebrations marked the 23rd observance of World Food Day in commemoration of the 58th anniversary of FAO.
The World Food Day theme for 2003 is "International Alliance against Hunger", emphasizing the need for global mobilization to create the political will to eradicate hunger.
"Nations must turn verbal commitments into practical programmes," says FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf. 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.
The Alliance brings together many different groups, including food producers and consumers, international organizations, governments, agribusinesses, scientists, academics, private individuals, policy-makers, religious groups and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
During World Food Day, 40 countries held seminars and workshops related to the International Alliance against Hunger theme, and several countries are in the process of establishing National Alliances, such as Brazil, Guinea, Ivory Coast and Madagascar. Among developed countries, the United States of America has established an Alliance against Hunger while in Belgium civil society organizations concerned with food security issues joined in a "coalition contre la faim".
World Food Day celebration at FAO headquarters
The World Food Day ceremony at the FAO headquarters in Rome was attended by dignitaries, celebrities and high-level personalities from around the world. After delivering the World Food Day message, Dr Diouf introduced His Excellency Jorge Luis Batlle Ibáñez, President of the Eastern Republic of Uruguay, who delivered the keynote speech. Other public figures who gave statements were the Honourable Pier Ferdinando Casini, President of the Italian Chamber of Deputies; His Excellency Giovanni Alemanno, Minister of Agricultural and Forestry Policies of Italy; and the Most Reverend Monsignor Renato Volante, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to FAO, who read a message from His Holiness Pope John Paul II.
Afterwards, the Director-General awarded World Food Day 2003 medals to the first-prize winners of the World Food Day poster competition, which was organized by the United Nations Women's Guild. He then introduced the five newly appointed FAO Ambassadors, who have signed on to FAO's appeal to end world hunger . Joining the ranks of FAO's roster of goodwill ambassadors are rai music sensation Khaled, Latin rock group Maná, Israeli singer Noa, Miss Universe 2002 Justine Pasek from Panama, and Malian musician Oumou Sangaré.
In the afternoon, Dr. Diouf addressed a meeting of civil society organizations (CSOs). The discussion was opened by Mr. Henri Carsalade, FAO Assistant Director-General for Technical Cooperation. Introductory remarks were made by Antonio Onorati and Mario Ahumada of the International NGO/CSO Planning Committee for the World Food Summit: five years later, Ursulah Goh, Deputy President of the Associated Country Women of the World, Pierre Cibambo of Caritas Internationalis, and Sergio Morelli, President of the Italian Association of NGOs. Mamadou Cissokho, Honorary President of the Network of peasant farmers and agricultural producers organizations of West Africa (ROPPA) introduced the "Africa can feed itself" campaign. Rev. Arthur Simon, Bread for the World Institute, USA, and Feleke Tadele, a representative of the Campaign against Famine in Ethiopia introduced "More and better": an international campaign for agriculture and rural development aid to eradicate hunger and poverty.
Kirsty Gray, Chair of the World Board of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, and Leone Magliocchetti-Lombi, Sub-regional Director for Europe of the International Association of Agricultural Students, spoke on "Tomorrow's farmers and citizens in action". Representatives from the governments of Brazil, Philippines and Zimbabwe as well as from FAO, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the International Plant Genetic Research Institute (IPGRI) gave their observations at this CSO meeting. The closing remarks were made by Ms. Louise Fresco, FAO Assistant Director-General for Agriculture.
World Food Day observances around the world
In addition to the celebrations at FAO headquarters in Rome, national-level activities in countries around the world commemorate World Food Day every year, A few examples from this year's observances were a World Food Day Symposium in Tokyo organized by the Japan FAO Association; a special World Food Day / Zero Hunger Ceremony in Brasilia hosted by Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva; a World Food Day Conference in Ireland organized by GORTA, the Irish Freedom from Hunger Campaign; a national competition to select a Female Farmer of the Year in South Africa; and the 20th World Food Day Teleconference broadcast live from Washington DC, USA.
For more information about World Food Day activities around the world click here.
The FAO Ambassadors Round Table on the eve of World Food Day
On 15 October, renowned celebrities from the FAO Ambassadors Programme came together in a Round Table discussion to sharpen their role in helping FAO combat world hunger. The Round Table acknowledged the contribution of FAO Ambassadors to FAO's work and discussed ways of raising public awareness of and support for FAO's goals and activities.
During the encounter, the FAO Ambassadors made strong individual commitments and expressed their willingness to put their talents at the service of FAO in a concrete fashion. In particular, the following recommendations were made:
To strengthen and develop the communication between the Organization and FAO Ambassadors to keep the latter continuously and fully informed of FAO's activities, projects and initiatives;
To associate FAO Ambassadors with specific projects and endeavours;
To prepare individual programmes of action/activities for each FAO Ambassador to be tailored to his/her schedule of work, expectations, talents and audience;
To benefit from the technical skills of show business professionals, in particular the Italian Singers' Soccer Team, which indicated its availability to assist the FAO Ambassadors Programme to organize awareness-raising and fundraising events;
To organize a yearly event with the contribution and participation of FAO Ambassadors;
To look into the possibility of producing and selling a collective CD of FAO Ambassadors' musical performances;
To dedicate a collective song to the fight against hunger in the world.
At the end of the Round Table, the FAO Ambassadors issued a collective Appeal to End Hunger, calling on people everywhere to help the least privileged people of the world finally break out of the vicious circle of chronic hunger, poverty and under-nourishment. The FAO Ambassadors declared in particular: "For us, the drive to defeat hunger is a question of personal responsibility. We want to be part of a generation that has achieved this goal. Please join hands with us in the International Alliance against Hunger."