World Food Day 2017, FAO © L'Osservatore Romano

FAO: Monsignor Arellano Suggests to Political Leaders that They ‘Evaluate the Moral Impact of the Actions They Promote’

Robot Portrait of ‘Ethical’ Leadership

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Monsignor Fernando Chica Arellano, the Holy See’s Permanent Observer to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), appealed to political and social leaders “to evaluate the moral impact  of the actions they promote.” He enumerated the characteristics of an ethical leader: according to him, first of all, it is humility and the awareness of their own limitations; prudence, namely, the capacity of discernment, of anticipation of consequences; empathy for the problems and sufferings of others and openness to novelty and coherence.

Monsignor Arellano intervened in a seminar entitled ”Build the Present and Prepare the Future with Ethical Leadership,” organized in Rome on November 13, 2019 by the Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI Foundation and the Holy See’s Permanent Observation at FAO, at FIDA and at PAM, the three United Nations agencies dedicated to the sectors of agriculture and food, reported “Vatican News “ in Italian on Wednesday.

The seminar was held at FAO’s headquarters and focused on the idea of sustainable development from an equitable and productive food production system. Father Federico Lombardi, President of the Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI Foundation and Maria Helena Semedo, FAO’s Deputy Director-General opened the meeting. Among the speakers were: Professor Stefano Zamagni, President of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences; Pietro Sebastiani, Ambassador of Italy to the Holy See and Professor Vincenzo Buonomo, Rector of the Pontifical Lateran University.

In his address, Monsignor Arellano said: “the leader can only be one who acts and not only one who speaks. And in today’s globalized world, action becomes cooperation, in the firm awareness that one’s future depends on others.”

Leadership, “therefore, isn’t a question of oratory, competence or ostentation of culture but of witness.” “Young people are aware of it and call for it more directly: they live in a period of their life where the great dreams and ideals must  not give way to resignation in face of a reality that appears disappointing and at the same time below their expectations.”

Say “no” to a culture “of uncritical acceptance of what is happening”

In his turn, Professor Stefano Zamagni, President of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, invited to say “no” to a culture “of uncritical acceptance of what is happening” today.

Food waste and losses constitute an urgent problem: one-third of the world’s food production is lost or wasted along the food chain, 32% during the production phase, 22% after the harvest, 13% in the distribution phase and 22% in the consumption phase, he said.

An increase in the consumption of meat, determined by the growth of revenues, will have an enormous impact on the consumption of water because one cubic meter of water is necessary to produce one kilogram of cereals, 15 are necessary to produce a kilogram of meat, explained the Professor. To date, the average consumption of meat is 83 kg per person per year in North America, 62 kg in the European Union, 28 kg in Asia and 11 kg in Africa. FAO foresees that from now until 2015, the consumption of meat in the world will increase by 76%. Therefore, if we don’t intervene in some way, warned Zamagni, “deforestation and the exhaustion of pure water reserves will have immediate and tragic consequences.

The President of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences reflected also on the financial and economic aspects of the food products market, which direct agricultural policies and condition the volatility of the prices of food products. Among the most concerning aspects, Professor Zamagni pointed out the progressive concentration of the market in the hands of a small group of multi-nationals that hold the control of seeds and of world agriculture. In 1981, over 7,000 companies operated in this sector, whereas today four groups (Bayer-Monsanto, Dow-Dupont, Chem China-Syngenta, Basf) control close to 90% of the market. Then there are 10 processing companies that control 70% of the food market.

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Marina Droujinina

Journalist (Moscow & Brussels). Theology (Brussels, IET).

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