Pope calls for major international reforms to deal with world hunger
By John Thavis
Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI said persistent world hunger calls for international reforms that focus on long-term solutions as well as short-term emergency food aid.
The pope made the comments in his message for World Food Day, which is celebrated Oct. 16. The text was addressed to Jacques Diouf, director-general of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization.
The pope said the theme of this year’s day, “United Against Hunger,” should remind everyone of the responsibility to support the agricultural sector. Freedom from hunger, he said, means ensuring not only that enough food is available, but also that everyone has daily access to it.
“This means promoting whatever resources and infrastructures are necessary in order to sustain production and distribution on a scale sufficient to guarantee fully the right to food,” he said.
The pope praised recent international steps to protect the right to safe water, which he said was “essential to human nutrition, to rural activities and to the conservation of nature.”
He said the deterioration of climatic and environmental conditions requires additional funding so that agricultural production cycles can be reestablished. The climate and environmental problems have a big negative impact on rural populations and crop systems, he said.
The pope said all food assistance should be provided in the context of broader human development. He warned of a tendency to limit such development to the satisfaction of material needs, and said it must also include the higher values of fraternity, solidarity and the common good.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations celebrates World Food Day each year on 16 October, the day on which the Organization was founded in 1945.
The objectives of World Food Day are to:
- encourage attention to agricultural food production and to stimulate national, bilateral, multilateral and non-governmental efforts to this end;
- encourage economic and technical cooperation among developing countries;
- encourage the participation of rural people, particularly women and the least privileged categories, in decisions and activities influencing their living conditions;
- heighten public awareness of the problem of hunger in the world;
- promote the transfer of technologies to the developing world; and
- strengthen international and national solidarity in the struggle against hunger, malnutrition and poverty and draw attention to achievements in food and agricultural development.