Here is a translation of the text of the Holy Father Francis’ Video-Message to the Members of FAO, on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of its institution.
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To His Excellency
Mr. Qu Diongyu
Director-General of FAO
On the day that FAO is celebrating its 75th anniversary of its creation, I wish to geet you and all the members that compose it. Its mission is lovely and important because you all work with the objective to defeat hunger, food insecurity, and malnutrition.
The theme proposed for this year on the occasion of World Food Day is significant: “Grow, Nourish, Sustain “ and this “Together. Our Actions Are Our Future.” This theme highlights the necessity to act jointly and with a firm will to be able to generate initiatives that improve our surroundings and promote the hope of many persons and many peoples.”
In the course of these 75 years, FAO has learned that it’s not enough to produce foods, but that it is also important to guarantee that food systems are sustainable and offer healthy diets accessible to all. An attempt is being made to adopt innovative solutions, which can transform the way we produce and consume foods, for the wellbeing of our communities and our planet, thus strengthening the capacity of recovery and long-term sustainability.
Therefore, in this period of great difficulty, caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s even more important to support the initiatives implemented by organizations such as FAO, the World Food Program, and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (FIDA) in view of promoting a sustainable and diversified agriculture, to support small agricultural communities and to cooperate in the rural development of the poorest countries.
We are conscious that this challenge must be addressed at a time that is full of contradictions: on one hand, we are witnesses of unprecedented progress in the different fields of science; on the other hand, the world is facing multiple humanitarian crises. Sadly we see that, according to FAO’s latest statistics, despite the efforts made in the last decades, the number of people fighting hunger and food insecurity grows — is growing –, and the present pandemic will sharpen these figures even more.
For humanity, hunger is not only a tragedy but a disgrace. It is caused in the main by inequality in the distribution of the fruits of the earth, to which is added the lack of investments in the agricultural sector, the consequences of climate change, and the increase of conflicts in different areas of the planet. Moreover, tons of food is thrown away. In face of this reality, we cannot remain insensitive or paralyzed. We are all responsible.
The present crisis demonstrates that policies and concrete actions are needed to eradicate hunger in the world. Sometimes dialectical and ideological discussions lead us far from achieving this objective, and we allow our brothers and sisters to continue dying for lack of food. A courageous decision would be to constitute a “Global Fund” with the money used for arms, to be able to defeat hunger definitively and to aid the development of the poorest countries. Thus, many wars would be avoided and the emigration of so many of our brothers and their families, who are obliged to abandon their homes and countries in search of a more fitting life (cf. Fratelli Tutti, nn. 189, 262).
Mister Director-General: on expressing my desire that FAO’s work be ever more incisive and fruitful, I invoke God’s blessing on you and on those cooperating in this essential mission to cultivate the earth, to feed the hungry, and to safeguard the natural resources, so that we can all live worthily, with respect and love. Thank you very much.
© Libreria Editrice Vatican[Original text: Spanish] [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]