Palazzo del Quirinale 16/10/2020

Video message of the President of the Italian Republic Sergio Mattarella on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the FAO

Esteemed Director-General and Permanent Representatives,

we celebrate the 75th anniversary of the establishment of FAO, whose headquarters Italy is proudly home to - well before the Republic entered the UN and based upon the previous experience of the International Institute of Agriculture - jointly with the entire Food and Agriculture Hub of the United Nations.

Today, first of all, we celebrate a project: vanquishing hunger, malnutrition and the poverty that causes them.

We are committed to bringing about the attainment of the affirmation that, one of the fundamental human rights, is the right to food.

In all these years, agriculture and food productive systems, distribution chains and educational programs on nutrition, have enabled us to make great strides forward.

Nevertheless, my thoughts go to the millions of men, women, and children who, in countless parts of the world, still struggle to have access to basic necessities, who suffer from hunger or run the risk of falling prey to nutrition insecurity. A condition that climate change and conflicts, with the resultant forced migrations, and now the pandemic, have further aggravated.

It is estimated that, in 2020 alone, approximately 100 million more people are living below the poverty line.

This is a moment of critical choices for the planet as a whole, of a serious global commitment, based on recognising the value of agricultural activity, on a responsible use of natural resources, on the preservation of biodiversity and ecosystems, on strengthening and increasing the sustainability of each community's food and agriculture systems, in order to ensure a healthy and adequate diet.

Today’s theme is “Grow, nourish, sustain. Together. Our actions are our future”.

A mandate that refers to the need to fight to preserve life in every corner of the planet, addressing and overcoming persistent inequalities.

And there is only one way to do this: to work together.

There is an increasing awareness that full international cooperation is needed in order to create sustainable food productive systems with the contribution of public and private players, of individuals as well as of the community.

The Nobel Peace Prize, awarded to the World Food Program, is a clear and appreciated indication to this effect.

We are all called to pursue together, with consistency and determination, attitudes that contribute to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

I would like to give a special mention to the commitment of FAO and its Director-General, Qu Dongyu who, together with Italy and many other countries, created a "food coalition", with the aim of limiting the effects of Covid-19 on food productive systems.

An adequate and balanced diet must be within everyone's reach and food, along with its ancient and inseparable link with cultures, tradition and the land, must be considered a noble material to be safeguarded, fighting that hateful habit of waste which, unfortunately, all too often marks the richest regions of the planet.

Our hope is that the international community will rediscover the profound value of the precious goods that the earth offers us and our responsibility to share and safeguard them for future generations.