By Vatican News staff writer
Addressing Qu Dongyu, the Director-General of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Pope Francis noted that “For humanity, hunger is not only a tragedy but it is also shameful.”
His words came on World Food Day which focuses this year on the theme: “cultivating, nourishing and preserving together. Our actions are our future”.
We are all responsible
In his video message, the Pope said hunger is caused, “to a large extent, by an unequal distribution of the fruits of the earth, in addition to the lack of investment in agriculture, the consequences of climate change and the increase in conflicts in different parts of the planet”, as well as by the tonnes of food that are discarded.
Faced with this reality, he continued, “we cannot remain insensitive or paralysed” because “we are all responsible.”
The Pope added that the theme underlines the urgent need for everyone to act together so as to “promote hope” in all people.
75th anniversary of FAO
The World Day also marks the UN Organisation’s 75 anniversary.
In these many years, the Pope said, FAO has learned that it is not enough to just produce food, but that “it is also important to ensure that food systems are sustainable and offer healthy diets that are accessible to all. It is about adopting innovative solutions that can transform the way we produce and consume food for the well-being of our communities and our planet, thereby strengthening resilience and long-term sustainability.”
Support during the pandemic
Especially in these difficult times caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Pope Francis stressed the importance of supporting initiatives that “promote sustainable and diversified agriculture, support small farming communities and cooperate in rural development in the poorest countries.”
We are living in a time “full of contradictions”, said the Pope.
On the one hand, we are witnessing unprecedented progress in different fields of science. On the other, the world is facing multiple humanitarian crises.
Unfortunately, he continued, we note that, according to the most recent FAO statistics, despite the efforts made in recent decades, "the number of people fighting hunger and food insecurity is growing, and the current pandemic will make these figures even worse."
Pope Francis went on to note that the current crisis shows us that we need concrete policies and actions to eradicate hunger in the world.
At times, he said, "dialectical or ideological debates distance us from achieving this goal and we allow our brothers and sisters to continue to die from lack of food."
"A courageous decision would be to set up a "Global Fund" with the money used in arms and other military expenditures in order to definitively eliminate hunger and contribute to the development of the poorest countries. This would avoid many wars and the emigration of many of our brothers and sisters and their families who are forced to leave their homes and countries in search of a more dignified life (cf. Fratelli tutti, n. 189 and 262)."
Finally, Pope Francis expressed his hope that the activity of FAO be "ever more incisive and more fruitful", and prayed for all those who "cooperate in this fundamental mission of cultivating the land, feeding the hungry and safeguarding natural resources, so that we can all live with dignity, respect and love."