In a message to the Director General of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, Pope Francis says we must adopt “innovative solutions” to transform the way we produce and consume food “for the well-being of people and of the planet.”
By Christopher Wells
“The annual celebration of World Food Day brings us face to face with one of humanity’s greatest challenges: overcoming hunger once and for all is an ambitious goal,” Pope Francis writes, in a message addressed to Qu Dongyu, the Director General of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization.
The need for concerted action
In his message, the Holy Father says this year’s theme for World Food Day — “Our actions are our future. Better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life” — “underlines the need for concerted action so that everyone has access to diets that ensure maximum environmental sustainability and are also adequate and affordable.”
Pope Francis points to a paradox with regard to food access, noting that while more than three billion people do not have access to a nutritious diet, almost two billion are overweight due to poor diets and a sedentary life stye.
He writes that everyone has a role to play, emphasizing, “If we do not want to jeopardize the health of our planet and our entire population, we must encourage active participation in change at all levels and reorganize food systems as a whole.”
An opportunity to change course
The Pope highlights four areas in particular where urgent action is needed: in the field, at sea, at the table, and in reducing food loss and waste. Although “individual lifestyle choices and daily consumption practices influence global and environmental dynamics,” he said, “we must encourage producers and consumers to make ethical and sustainable choices and raise awareness among the younger generations of the important role they play in making a world without hunger a reality.”
Pope Francis says that with the pandemic there is an “opportunity to change course” so that the global food system will be better able to respond to future crises. However, he insists, “the fight against hunger requires overcoming the cold logic of the market, avidly focused on mere economic profit and the reduction of food to just another commodity” and instead “strengthening the logic of solidarity.”
In his message, Pope Francis ensures the FAO’s Director-General, “The Holy See and the Catholic Church walk side by side with the FAO and those other entities and individuals who do their best to ensure that no human being sees his or her fundamental rights undermined or disregarded.”
He concludes his message with words of encourage: “May those who sow seeds of hope and harmony might feel the support of my prayer, pleading that their initiatives and projects may be ever more fruitful and successful.”