World Food Day: UN agencies call for stronger action to make healthy diets available to all

Thursday, October 17th, 2019 13:24 |
Activists display posters protesting against the use of harmful chemicals in food production process this was during the World Food Day, in Makueni County, Kenya, Oct. 16, 2019. The theme of World Food Day 2019 is “Our Actions Are Our Future. Healthy Diets for a #ZeroHunger World”. (Xinhua/John Okoyo)

Rome-based UN agri-food agencies on Wednesday made an urgent call for a stronger action to make healthy and sustainable diets available to all people to end hunger and malnutrition by 2030. 

Their appeal was made at a major ceremony held at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) headquarters to mark the World Food Day, which falls on Oct. 16 every year. 

The appeal came amidst an international contest which highlighted rising trends in global hunger, and increasing overweight and malnutrition rates especially among younger generations. 

FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu stressed that a strong political commitment is needed at all levels if the international community really wants to achieve the goals of the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. 

"We need to invest in nutrition and for nutrition... and to walk hand-in-hand to build healthy and sustainable food systems," Qu said. 

The FAO chief urged stakeholders at all levels to boost their efforts in a coordinated way, from governments and public entities to research institutes, and from private firms to consumers. 

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte echoed. "A collective action is the high road to tackling a global challenge such as hunger," he said a keynote speech. 

"We will not be able to reach a really sustainable development if we are not capable of erasing hunger... and of making healthy and sustainable diets universally available," he added. 

A FAO report published earlier this week noted that over 820 million people in the world do not have enough to eat. 

Global hunger -- after showing decreasing trends for decades -- is on the rise again since 2016, due to factors that include the combining effects of climate change and conflicts. 

Yet, while the total number of chronically undernourished people has been rising in recent years, the rate has been decreasing with respect to global population, said the FAO chief. 

Latest statistics also found that malnutrition, in terms of overweight and obesity, currently affected some 2 billion adults and almost 380 million children and adolescents across the world. 

Both conditions were on the rise, contributing to some 4 million deaths at global level, said the FAO report. 

The whole situation, as Qu explained, was much due to current food systems, which were not yet able to ensure food security and access to healthy diets to all, but damaged the environment nonetheless. 

"The amount of food wasted globally would be enough to feed another 2 billion people," pointed out David Beasley, executive director of the World Food Programme (WFP). 

"So, we do have a solution to hunger in our hands, just by being better stewards of the foodwe already have," he added. 

As the World Food Day is celebrated across the globe, the FAO ceremony received videos from UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Italian President Sergio Mattarella. 

In his message, UN's Guterres announced a specific Food Systems Summit will be called in 2021, as part of the Decade of Action to deliver the goals of the 2030 Agenda, and Italian Prime Minister Conte proposed Italy as possible host country.  (Xinhua)

More on News