FAO Director-General's Message
Rome, 16 October 2003
"International Alliance against Hunger"
Today, as people gather around the world to celebrate World Food Day, I would like to remind everyone of the paramount significance of this celebration; to rid the world of hunger.
For still 840 million people, around 800 million of them in developing countries, suffer from chronic hunger. This leaves us much too far from the World Food Summit goal set in 1996 to cut by half the number of hungry people by 2015.
Never before in the history of the world has so much food been produced. And we have technologies that can substantially increase farm productivity and ensure better water management.
But what is needed is the political will to tackle the underlying causes of hunger in all its manifestations. Nations must turn verbal commitments to fight hunger into practical programmes. In most developing countries, the majority of people live in rural areas and derive their livelihoods from agriculture. It therefore makes sense to invest in agriculture.
The international community, at the World Food Summit: five years later in June 2002, resolved to create an "International Alliance against Hunger".
This Alliance provides a forum for advocacy. It is also meant to promote joint actions by its members. And it encourages partners to offer assistance, whether training, policy advice, or help in developing hunger reduction strategies.
But we must never forget that the prime responsibility for reaching our goals lies with each government and its people: who must set their own national targets. I applaud the foresight of nations where leaders have made fighting hunger their top priority.
A group of NGOs has formed a coalition to campaign against hunger. Other alliances the world over are encouraging signs of the kind of energy and determination needed to eradicate hunger once and for all. In a growing number of countries, all sectors of society including food producers and consumers, international organizations, scientists, academics, religious groups, NGOs, donors, policymakers and individuals concerned about the problem of hunger, are joining together to fight against food insecurity.
So, on this World Food Day, I appeal to one and all to join the fight against hunger. The "International Alliance against Hunger" gives us a way to move forward together, to reduce poverty and to guarantee the most basic of human rights - to be free from hunger.