By Francesca Merlo
Addressing participants at the United Nations Food Systems Summit, Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, Vatican Secretary for Relations with States, expressed the Holy See's pleasure in participating in this "first-ever United Nations Food Systems Summit", describing it as an "important and timely initiative".
In his video message, Archbishop Gallagher expresses the "pressing need to intensify international action towards transforming food systems and combating food insecurity and malnutrition."
He noted that on this point Pope Francis has stressed that, in the twenty-first century, "hunger is not only a tragedy for humanity, but also a real cause for shame." For this reason, continued Archbishops Gallagher, "it is time to move from declarations and the formulation of strategies to effective and urgent action."
"The critical question," continued the Secretary for Relations with States, is "how to transform food systems so that they advance the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, support regeneration of social systems after the COVID-19 pandemic, and promote the integral development of every person, while protecting our planet’s integrity."
Again, quoting Pope Francis in his Pre-Summit message last July, Archbishop Gallagher said "we must strive to 'increase resilience, strengthen local economies, improve nutrition, reduce food waste, provide healthy diets accessible to all, reach environmental sustainability, and respect local cultures'."
For a dignified life
Archbishop Gallagher went on to note that acccess to food is a fundamental human right and that it is essential for a dignified life. "Feeding the hungry is not enough," said the Archbishop. "We also need to provide the poor and those in vulnerable situations with the necessary resources to support themselves and their families in the long-term."
One of the responses, he continued, is to provide them with greater opportunities for land use and ownership, financial resources, and training.
"Sustainable food systems should provide nutritious food for all, support equitable and just livelihoods and promote circular models of production and consumption," said Archbishop Gallaher. We must replace the “throwaway culture” with a “culture of care" that protects the inherent dignity of every person and preserves our common home.
In order to be successful
To be successful, said Archbishop Gallagher, bringing his address to a close, "there is the need to implement a vision of food systems that integrates the human, economic, environmental, and technological components."
Finally, he assured all those watching that "the international community can count on the Holy See to help make that vision a reality."
Archbishop Gallaher's address comes just a few days after the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) released a report warning about the dire truth surrounding malnutrition in young children, stating that over half of the world's children under the age of five suffering from acute malnutrition (23 million) are younger than 2.