Milan -- Next year's EXPO Milano 2015, with its food security-oriented theme, and an international nutrition conference coming up in Rome in November, will be 'emblematic efforts that help to shape the sustainable future we want,' FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva said.
Speaking at a round-table discussion linked to EXPO 2015, Graziano da Silva said, 'We need to act now, forcefully, to reach a world in which there is no over- or under-nutrition.'
FAO's Director-General called for broad action to 'ensure adequate food security and nutrition for all,' and to support sustainable, inclusive, social and economic development.
'The fact is that hunger and malnutrition are two of the major preventable catastrophes affecting our world. And any form of malnutrition has a terrible and costly individual, social and economic impact. While hunger and malnutrition remain, we will continue to witness immense suffering,' the Director-General said.
Today's 'EXPO 2015 for a Global Food Deal' event featured high-profile figures from Italian government, EXPO Milan 2015, the private sector and civil society.
Graziano da Silva, head of the United Nations' lead agency on food security, nutrition and agriculture issues, pointed out that 840 million people were chronically hungry, and more than 160 million children suffered from stunted growth, while some 2 billion people globally experienced various forms of malnutrition.
'Around 45% of all child deaths are linked to malnutrition. And even if the child survives, his or her future will most probably be compromised because of inadequate nutrition in its early days.'
Yet, he stressed, the cause was not a shortage of food globally, but obstacles faced by people around the world in gaining access to adequate, safe, nutritious food or the means to produce or buy it.
EXPO 2015 and ICN2
EXPO 2015's theme, 'Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life,' is at the heart of the UN's founding principles to combat hunger and poverty. The exposition will run in Milan for six months from May until the end of October 2015.
The theme touches on food security and nutrition, sustainability, poverty reduction, development and cooperation, all among priority themes in the work of the United Nations and FAO.
From 19-21 November, FAO and the World Health Organization (WHO) will host Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) at FAO's headquarters in Rome, the most significant international event on the issue in more than 20 years.
Pope Francis is among those planning to attend the nutrition conference, lending his voice to an international groundswell of support in the fight against malnutrition, a major, though frequently hidden, dimension of hunger.
Exchange of ideas
Today's round-table event was organized by the Italian Ministry of Agriculture and the Italian Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI). Milan Mayor Giuliano Pisapia opened the event, along with EXPO 2015 SpA Managing Director Giuseppe Sala, Italian Agriculture Minister Maurizio Martina and ISPI President Giancarlo Aragona.
Also participating in the event were Paolo Barilla, Vice Presidente Barilla e Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition Foundation; Wolfgang Jamann, President, Alliance 2015; Beatrice Lorenzin, Italian Health Minister; Carlo Petrini, President and founder of Slow Food; Paolo Magri, Vice-President and Director, ISPI. Italian Foreign Affairs Ministers, Federica Mogherini, closed the event.