October 16th marks the celebration of World Food Day.
It was established in 1979 to honor the founding date of the Food and
Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations in 1945.
is observed around the world by more than 150 countries, raising
awareness to issues that cause hunger and poverty.
Each year in order to
highlight areas for focus and improvement, World Food Day adopts a
different theme. This year the theme is ‘Climate is changing, food and
agriculture must too.’
The global goal for defeating hunger is 2030; it
is a goal that cannot be reached without addressing the issue of climate
In a message released this week for the occasion and addressed to the Director General of FAO, Pope Francis said everyone has a responsibility to protect the planet for future generations.
Alexandre Maybech, Principal Advisor for
Agriculture, Environment, and Climate Change in the office of the
Assistant Director General on Culture and Protection of Consumers in
FAO, spoke with Vatican Radio’s Hayley Susino about the significance of World Food Day and the implications of climate change.
Explaining the significance of World Food Day, Alexandre Maybech said: “World Food Day is the occasion once a year to highlight the
importance of food, food production, and food security and nutrition all
over the world and to have a focus on some major issues of importance
for food security.”
Each year there is a different theme chosen to highlight very
important issues that impact hunger and food production. This year
climate change was selected because it is already having an impact on
agriculture and food security all over the world. Climate change is
going to have an increasing impact, particularly in areas that are
already food insecure.
In his professional opinion, Maybech stated, “climate change could
very well jeopardize the objective of eradicating hunger and
malnutrition before 2030.”
All too often, people take the accessibility and quantity of food
available for granted. “It is important to remind everybody that food is
not given. It takes a lot of work to get food on our plate and not
everybody in the world has appropriate food on his or her plate
Maybech continued, “It takes a lot of work, a lot of
investment, a lot of thinking and a lot of policies for appropriate
institutions all over the world.”
“It is good that everybody in society - consumers, private sectors,
and governments take one day to think about what has to be done together
to be sure that food security and nutrition is assured all over the
world, now and in the future,” emphasized Maybech.
World Food Day affects each and every human being because everybody
needs to eat. The holiday helps to raise awareness on specific topics of
major importance concerning food consumption and production around the
Pope Francis has addressed the FAO on more than one occasion. Maybech spoke about the influence of the Pope’s words:
“All that the Pope has said in FAO or about climate change has had a major impact in the way we work.”
He continued to say that Pope Francis’ words have “placed an immense
role on raising awareness in the importance of solidarity, collective
action and of how the work to eradicate hunger and malnutrition all over
the world is a medical duty to a great extent.”
Pope Francis’ words have put an emphasis on understanding the impacts
of everyone’s actions and how they can effect everyone’s lives years
into the future. He also established a link between our collective
responsibilities about climate change and highlighted that the ones who
are most effected are the poorest and most vulnerable people.
Maybech stressed the urgency for collective action:
“There is an urgency to adapt our food production and consumption
systems to climate change and also of the urgency of all of us acting to
limit as much as possible the affects of climate change precisely
because climate change threatening the most vulnerable populations.”