UNGA Mandela Peace Summit: Where conflicts arise, hunger increases says DG FAO

Graça Machel joins FAO Nobel Peace Laureates Alliance

24 September 2018, New York - Without peace there will be no food security, and without food security there will be no peace - that was the message of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization's Director-General José Graziano da Silva for today's Nelson Mandela Peace Summit  as part of the UN General Assembly in New York.

"Freeing the world from hunger and want is a fundamental contribution to lasting peace. Nelson Mandela's centenary once again obliges us to recognize that promoting human rights and fundamental freedoms, as the right to food and to economic and social development, are key for achieving inclusive and peaceful societies as set out by the 2030 Agenda," Graziano da Silva said in a statement.

The Peace Summit is in honour of the centenary of Mandela's birth, and saw global leaders renew their commitments to peace.

Sow food security today, harvest peace tomorrow

Today, 821 million people globally suffer from hunger and malnutrition, and the increase in recent years has been driven largely by conflict and climate extremes.

"We do not lack any evidence: where conflicts arise, hunger increases," the Director-General said. "The relationship is direct, and the impact of wars and conflict on hunger and malnutrition is even worse if one considers that global military spending continues to increase while countries allocate scarce and sometimes decreasing resources to eradicate hunger and poverty," he said.

Conflict and hunger are closely related, and most conflicts mainly affect rural areas, disrupting farming and limiting access to food. Peace can be a driver for eliminating hunger, and food security can often help mitigate and even prevent conflicts.

Graça Machel awarded

The Peace Summit comes after FAO awarded Graça Machel with honorary membership of the FAO Nobel Peace Laureates Alliance for Food Security and Peace, in recognition of Nelson Mandela's tireless struggle for freedom and peace.

Machel is an international advocate for women's and children's rights, co-founder with Mandela of The Elders group of global leaders, and is Mandela's widow.

I thank Graça Machel for accepting this award when we celebrate the 100th anniversary of Madiba. It is an honour for us to have her as a member of the Alliance. In a world where hunger continues to increase due to conflicts, her advocacy for peace will be very important," Graziano da Silva said.

"I am very thankful for receiving this award. It is important to remember that peace has a very important connection not only with food security but also with nutrition," Machel said at the ceremony.

The award was presented in the presence of Muhammad Yunus who won the Nobel peace Prize in 2006 and who is a Member of the Peace Laureates Alliance.

"Development should be viewed as a human rights issue, not as a question of simply increasing the gross national product. If we wish to realize this objective and take actions and efforts to eliminate hunger in our lifetime we need to build and support rural entrepreneurship as the heart of solutions to hunger and instability," Yunus said. “FAO is working towards this direction and my collaboration with this institution will be based on the development of the link between social business and agriculture, especially in post-conflict countries, in the belief that food security can be a prerequisite for lasting peace," he added.

The Nobel Peace Laureates Alliance was established by FAO in 2016 with the mandate to amplify the discussions on how peace is a pre-condition to achieving food security for all, and how improving food security can contribute to peace.

Other members of the Alliance include Oscar Arias Sánchez, Tawakkol Karman, Betty Williams, Juan Manuel Santos, Mairead Maguire, José Ramos Horta, Fredrik Willem de Klerk and Adolfo Pérez Esquivel.    

Photo: ©FAO/Kevin Downs
Left to right: FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva, honourary member of the FAO Nobel Peace Laureates Alliance Graça Machel and 2006 Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus at the award ceremony in New York.