TeleFood: the first global telecast dedicated to "Food for All"

FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf and top officials of Italy's national broadcaster RAI were joined via satellite link from New York by singing star Andrea Bocelli for the official launch of Telefood '97.

Malawi: smallscale farmers often struggle to keep hunger at bay. FAO works with them to improve agricultural techniques and land care practices

The press conference at FAO Headquarters on 30 September also featured videotaped endorsements from Brazilian football star Ronaldo and actor Jeremy Irons for this first global telecast dedicated to raising awareness and solidarity for more than 800 million chronically undernourished people around the world. Part of 1997 observances of World Food Day, TeleFood 1997 will be marked by events in some 70 countries, all supporting FAO's work towards fulfilling the pledge - made by 186 countries at the World Food Summit in 1996 - to halve the number of hungry people in the world by 2010.

At the heart of TeleFood '97 will be a global telecast by Italy's RAI International from Rome on 19 October. More than eight hours of programming will include variety entertainment, celebrity spots, documentary coverage from developing countries, and discussion of food security issues. The second part of the telecast will feature a gala evening at the Sala Nervi in the Vatican, attended by an invited audience of 6 000. Italian singer Andrea Bocelli and Spanish tenor José Carreras will head an all-star lineup.

Andrea Bocelli voiced his strong support for the TeleFood campaign on a live satellite link from New York. When he was thanked for getting up early in the morning in the United States to participate, Mr Bocelli commented that he would gladly get up before dawn every day to help eliminate hunger.

Participating countries will be able to adapt TeleFood to their own needs, using all or part of the RAI broadcast, reports on world hunger, features on the FAO Special Programme for Food Security and other grassroots projects, as well as coordinating national information and entertainment segments. All the events will concentrate on raising awareness of the plight of the men, women and children whose daily life is blighted by chronic hunger.

"The time for action is now," Dr Diouf stated. "We are going straight to civil society for support. We hope that people will take the message to heart and remember that more than 800 million hungry and undernourished people around the world are counting on them."

Starting with an appeal against hunger signed by numerous film stars and directors at the Cannes Film Festival, FAO has enlisted the support of celebrities in all fields. In a video message recorded for the TeleFood launch, Ronaldo spoke from his experience as a young athlete from the developing world. "If you're hungry when you are a kid, you can't think, you can't study," he said. "You can't even run and play football. You just don't have a chance."

In a second videtaped endorsement, British actor Jeremy Irons explained, "I am supporting Telefood because it outrages me that hunger in the world still exists. Today the world is richer than it has ever been and yet tonight 200 million children will go to bed hungry and some of them will never get up."

8 October 1997

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