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2019.06.27 Conferenza dell'ONU per l'Alimentazione e l'Agricoltura Pope Francis addressing participants in FAO's conference on 2019.06.27 Conferenza dell'ONU per l'Alimentazione e l'Agricoltura  (Vatican Media)

Pope urges compassion, social and political will to tackle hunger and food insecurity

Pope Francis on June 27 addressed some 500 participants in the 41st General Conference of the Rome-based United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

By Robin Gomes

Pope Francis on Thursday urged for the cooperation of all in order to tackle the “scourges of hunger and food insecurity” in the world, whose causes, he said, lie in the lack of compassion, interest and social and political will. 

Welcoming in the Vatican some 500 participants in the 41st General Conference of the Rome-based United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Pope drew attention especially to the first two Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda – “no poverty” and “zero hunger”.

Lack of food and water

Addressing the group in his native Spanish, the Argentine Pope called for tackling the underlying causes of the lack of food and access to drinkable water.  He blamed the tragedy on “a failure of compassion, the lack of interest on the part of many and a scant social and political will to honour international obligations.”

The lack of food and water, he pointed out, is not an internal and exclusive affair of the poorest and most vulnerable countries, but one that concerns each of us.  He said that responsibility lies on all for increasing or alleviating the suffering of many of our brothers and sisters whose desperate cries we are called to hear. 

Wastage

One way to fight hunger and food insecurity, the Holy Father suggested, is to reduce the wastage of food and water.  This, he said, calls for increased awareness of the problem and a greater sense of social responsibility, calling it a witness that the younger generation will pass on to the future so that “this social tragedy can no longer be tolerated”.

Agriculture and migration

Drawing attention to an “evident link between environmental instability, food insecurity and migratory movements,” Pope Francis stressed that the increased numbers of refugees throughout the world in recent years shows that one country’s problem is a problem of the entire human family.

“For this reason, he said, agricultural development needs to be promoted in the most vulnerable regions, strengthening the resilience and sustainability of the land.  The Pope said this can be achieved, on the one hand, by investing in the development of technology and, on the other, by coming up with development policies based on innovation and solidarity.

Cooperation

Pope Francis called on governments, businesses, academia, institutions of civil society and private individuals to support and cooperate with the FAO and other international organizations in ensuring that all, particularly the poorest, have access to basic goods.  

In this regard, he reaffirmed the commitment of the Holy See in the global effort to eliminate hunger in the world and to ensure a better future for our planet and for mankind as a whole.  

FAO, that spearheads international efforts against hunger in the world, was represented at the papal audience, among others, by outgoing director-general, José Graziano da Silva of Brazil, as well as his successor, Qu Dongyu of China, who will take office on August 1.

27 June 2019, 12:49