Feature: UN chief celebrates World Food Day at Expo Milano 2015

xinhuanet.com 19-Oct-2015

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Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon speaks at the official celebration of "World Food Day 2015" at Expo Milan in Milan, Italy, Oct. 16, 2015. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and other figures in the global fight against hunger on Friday gathered at the Expo Milano 2015 to celebrate World Food Day. (Xinhua/Jin Yu)

by Marzia De Giuli

MILAN, Italy, Oct. 16 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General and other figures in the global fight against hunger on Friday gathered at the Expo Milano 2015 to celebrate World Food Day.

Italian Agriculture Minister Maurizio Martina delivered to Ban the Milan Charter, a document of commitment which involves individuals and countries in pursuing the universal right to healthy and sustainable nutrition related to the food-themed world exposition.

The Charter, considered as the "legacy" of Expo Milano 2015, was signed by more than one million people including institutions, governments and citizens.

"Three weeks ago, world leaders adopted a new plan to achieve sustainable development over the next 15 years. Agenda 2030 is ambitious and achievable," Ban said in his remarks at the ceremony for World Food Day, after touring the Expo greeted by citizens and many students.

The UN secretary-general emphasized the scale of food waste and loss, estimated as approximately 1.3 billion tons, or over one-third of food produced every year for human consumption.

"Hunger is more than a lack of food. It is a terrible injustice," he stressed.

Ban called on cutting traditional boundaries that separate ministries and portfolios, forging new partnerships and creating new ways for many stakeholders to collaborate to end hunger.

"We need all partners in this campaign ... most of all, we need local communities," he told thousands of assembled officials, experts and journalists.

Friday's World Food Day was celebrated on the anniversary of the creation of the Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organization of the (FAO) on Oct. 16, 1945.

FAO Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva praised the "amazing achievement" of increased sustenance from all even as the world population tripled over the past 70 years.

Yet with around 800 million people still suffering from undernutrition, big challenges lie ahead, he said.

Referring to this year's World Food Day theme focused on social protection, da Silva noted that "production and economic growth alone do not solve the problem, if the hungry remain excluded."

Many countries have shown that increasing the power of the very poor to buy food offers an affordable key to hunger eradication, he noted.

According to FAO, more than 90 percent of the 570 million farms worldwide are managed by an individual or family, who have a key role in the economic and social development of large rural areas but need help to create a network.

Da Silva also underlined that success in achieving the new sustainable development goals and becoming the "Zero Hunger Generation" depends on not just governments but all people, and called on individuals to celebrate World Food Day by making "personal commitments, for instance to eat healthily, cut food waste and help others."

In fact feeding the planet is inseparable from the word peace, Italian President Sergio Mattarella told speakers at the event including the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) President Kanayo F. Nwanze and World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Director Ertharin Cousin.

"Theoretically, the right to water and food is not debatable. Nevertheless, it can be, and in fact is a cause of tension and conflict between countries," he pointed out.

As part of the initiatives linked to the Expo, another pact to make food systems in urban areas more equitable signed by as many as 113 cities of the world, including Beijing, Buenos Aires, Chongqing, Dubai, Guangzhou, Johannesburg, London, Mexico City, Moscow, New York, Paris, Rome, Sao Paulo, Seoul, Shanghai, Tel Aviv and Vancouver, was delivered to Ban by Milan Mayor Giuliano Pisapia also on Friday.

By signing the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact, launched by Milan and developed with other cities, international organizations and experts, the signer cities adhered to the principles of guaranteeing healthy food for all, promoting sustainability in the food system, educating the public about healthy eating and reducing waste.

Two weeks before Expo Milano 2015 closes on Oct. 31, the six-month event themed "Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life" has topped the 20 million visitors mark, according to official data released on Thursday. The world exposition in the Italian northern city hosts more than 140 countries and organizations, of which a record number of 54 have self-built pavilions.