World Food Day kicks off campaign for public awareness and solidarity

World Food Day 1997 is being marked by an unprecedented crescendo of events. The annual observation of the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization, focusing this year on the theme of "Investing in Food Security", has become the springboard for an expanded and invigorated campaign to mobilize public awareness and solidarity. In addition to official World Food Day observances at FAO headquarters in Rome, UN headquarters in New York and more than 100 nations around the world, highlights will include the first global telecast dedicated to achieving "Food for All", a gala evening at the Vatican and a world music concert staged simultaneously on two continents.

Official 1997 World Food Day poster

The King of Nepal will deliver the keynote speech at FAO headquarters on 16 October, the anniversary of the 1945 meeting at the Chateau Frontenac in Quebec, at which the Food and Agriculture Organization was formed. Other speakers will include Italian Foreign Minister Lamberto Dini, FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf and actress Gina Lollobrigida, one of a long and growing list of celebrities who have signed FAO's "Appeal Against World Hunger".

World Food Day is being marked with festivities, speeches, performances, exhibits and broadcasts in more than 100 countries. The fourteenth annual World Food Day Teleconference, focusing this year on the first year of follow-up to the World Food Summit, is to be broadcast from Washington, DC, over WorldNet satellite at 12:00 Eastern Standard Time on 16 October.

On Sunday, 19 October, the campaign for global commitment takes to the airwaves with TeleFood '97. Broadcasts and other events are scheduled in up to 60 countries, anchored by more than eight hours of information and entertainment transmitted worldwide by the Italian national broadcaster, RAI International. The "prime-time" hours (19:00-23:00 GMT) will feature a gala concert at the Aula Paolo VI in Vatican City, starring Andrea Bocelli, José Carreras and other leading artists and personalities.

Two days later, on 21 October, World Food Day ceremonies are scheduled at UN headquarters in New York. Haitian President René Preval will make the keynote address. Other scheduled speakers include UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Dr Diouf, the president of the UN's Economic and Social Council and one of the vice-presidents of the current General Assembly session.

Ten days of activities will be capped on Sunday, 26 October, with the Second World Food Day Concert. An all-star line-up of Italian, Cuban and other international musicians will perform simultaneously at the Colosseum in Rome and in downtown Havana.

All of these events are aimed at raising public awareness and support for efforts to eliminate the chronic hunger that still afflicts more than 800 million people throughout the world. "All sectors of civil society must work together if we are to succeed in our objective to achieve food for all," Dr Diouf emphasized in his World Food Day message. "Investing in food security means that grassroots and local efforts, together with government, the private sector, multilateral and bilateral efforts at national level should all be focused on a common vision and agenda for food security."

15 October 1997

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