Food Security: A Priority in a Time of Crisis

Vatican Representative Archbishop Luigi Travaglino Address United Nations FAO Session

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The 38th session of FAO’s Conference on “The State of Food Insecurity in the World,” is being held in Rome until June 22. The Apostolic Nuncio to Monaco and head of the Holy See delegation, Archbishop Luigi Travaglino, addressed the Conference yesterday morning.

Archbishop Travaglino pointed out that “at this time of difficulty for the world economy, our encouragement goes to all those parties interested in promoting the implementation of the programs of the organizations in the different sectors of agriculture, of the forest and of fishing, especially in view of the objective of food security, which has become indispensable.”

Analyzing the program of work of the last two years one sees “the validity of FAO’s action directed in continuity” and “the willingness of the Member States,” a positive sign in the face of a food crisis which not only “impedes the integral development of the human being” but constitutes an “evident violation of his fundamental rights,” he explained. He also recalled that “agricultural activity is an essential factor to determine a country’s general productive capacity.”

In regard to the planning for the next two-year period, Archbishop Travaglino stressed that the Holy See delegation “hopes that the forms of support  will be increased to activities and practices of craftsmanship which constitute the basic economic reality for the greater part of developing countries, which have in monocultures, in forest resources, in the exploitation of marine resources or in activities of fish-farming an essential reference –and often sadly the only one – for their economies and for food availability.”  He also said that “the reduction of rural poverty and the improvement of the capacity to endure in case of crisis can be facilitated by small scale agriculture, especially of the family agricultural enterprise, outstanding within which is the transmission of fundamental values, care of traditional knowledge, the relation between generations and the irreplaceable role of woman.” For this reason, the Holy See believes “it is a priority which will really be assessed in the next year dedicated by FAO to the rural family, to which the Catholic Church gives her attention and constant availability.”

Archbishop Travaglino then asserted that for the Holy See delegation “the reference to sustainability of food systems cannot be limited to work techniques, conservation of resources and exchange of information.” “The objective of agricultural and food sustainability could be more effective if it is also joined to the full participation of the rural populations in the elaboration of plans of action and strategy, as well as in the effort to put them into practice in conformity with the imperatives of the integral development of individuals and communities.” This attitude of sustainability united to the human person “it seems to us, can contribute to give meaning to the responsibility we all have for the future generations,” explained the head of the delegation.

He also expressed the hope for “a work of elaboration of directives that specify the objective of sustainability for various sectors based on the indicators of food insecurity or malnutrition, perhaps with a particular consideration of the regional and sub-regional peculiarities.”

In the last point of his address, Archbishop Travaglino said that “the concerns over the global economic crisis cannot make one forget its repercussions on the trade of agricultural, forest and fishing products.” He spoke of the need to move in the right direction in the realm of negotiations on trade, especially to establish a regulation that will take into account some essential aspects, namely “concrete criteria of the management of production that, if directed solely to profit, can risk giving way to greater volatility of prices with negative consequences on food security and its nutritional regimes.” He concluded by affirming that measures must be considered and prepared that allow all countries – in particular developing countries – to have the necessary food and to put their own production on the international market.”

For all these reasons, the Holy See delegation “highlights the need of an essentially ethical perspective, within which each decision and consequent actions is the fruit of the principle of solidarity, which is the basis of a just and peaceful coexistence among nations.”

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Rocío Lancho García

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