FAO urges Europe to support nutrition and sustainable farming

Director-General addresses informal meeting of European Union agriculture ministers in Milan

30 September, 2014, Milan - European governments must help combat hunger and malnutrition on a global level, as failure to do so will only boost migration flows and stoke conflicts, FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva.

 "Food insecurity and conflict go hand in hand" he said, noting that extreme climatic events, troubles in Africa and the Near East and now the Ebola outbreak in West Africa tend to spill over national borders and into other regions in a globalized world, often through forced migration.

"Illegal border crossings are an issue of concern in Europe and other parts of the world," Graziano da Silva said at the informal summit of European Union agriculture ministers in Milan. "It is our common responsibility to help build alternatives. Sustainable agricultural and rural development in the countries of origin needs to be one of them,"' he added.

He urged EU ministers to consider malnutrition a public issue requiring concerted action. 

"Hunger is the most deplorable face of malnutrition, but it is not its only face,'' he said, noting that five percent of global economic activity is lost annually and that more than 2 billion people, suffer from undernourishment, micronutrient deficiencies or hidden hunger, which can manifest themselves as obesity.

He said he counted on constructive engagement from EU ministers at the Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) that FAO and the World Health Organization will host in Rome from Nov. 19 through 21. Agriculture is a critical part of efforts to improve malnutrition, he said.

ICN2 and Expo Milan 2015 "have been and will continue to be mutually supportive," he said, referring to the upcoming world's fair in Italy, which is focused on food issues and at which the United Nations will present its zero hunger vision.

ICN2 will promote Expo themes to a wide global audience, while Expo will broadcast ICN2 messages, he said.

Photo: ©Presidenza del Consiglio dei Ministri
FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva (fourth from right) participated in the informal meeting of European Union agriculture ministers in Milan