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Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Holy See at the United Nations: a lack of food is not the root cause of hunger

Vatican City, 6 November 2014 (VIS) – Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Holy See Permanent Observer at the United Nations, spoke at the 69th session of the United Nations General Assembly on 28 October, on the theme of “Agriculture development, food security and nutrition”.

The nuncio observed that according to the Secretary General's report, since 1990 there has been a 17% decrease in the number of people suffering from chronic hunger. However, he added, “it also means that we still have almost 850 million people suffering from acute hunger. The number is already shocking in itself, but what must shock us even more is the fact that behind those numbers are real people, with their fundamental dignity and rights. Thus, eradicating hunger is not only a high priority development goal; it is a moral imperative”.

However, he added, “it is not for lack of food in the world that they suffer acute hunger, because the current levels of world food production are sufficient to feed everyone. The problem lies elsewhere, such as in the lack of conservation technologies among smallholder producers, in weak or absent government support to incentivise the commercialisation of products, or in the lack of infrastructure for better food distribution and marketing”.

He remarked that the whole “United Nations family” must renew its efforts to eliminate hunger and malnutrition in the world, putting it at the forefront of its collective efforts. “It is for this reason that the Holy See welcomes the incorporation of food security, nutrition, and sustainable agriculture as components of the sustainable development goals. … The Holy See also welcomes the focus that the report of the Secretary General on Agricultural Development, Food Security and Nutrition puts on those regions of the world where hunger and malnutrition are still at unacceptable levels. The Holy See also appreciates the report's focus on groups most vulnerable to malnutrition, like pregnant women and children below five years old”.

He continued, “The theme of this year's World Food Day tells us that the family is key in the fight to end hunger. … This recognition of the role of the family must be accompanied by policies and initiatives that really respond to the needs of farming families and communities”. He concluded by reminding those present that an international conference on nutrition in will be held in Rome next month, aiming to bring together “government leaders, other top-level policy-makers and representatives of intergovernmental organisations and civil society, to take stock of progress made in improving nutrition and to seek new ways to boost national and global efforts to improve health”.

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