Rome -- Pope Francis will add his voice to the fight against hunger and malnutrition by addressing the Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) scheduled to take place from 19 to 21 November at FAO's headquarters in Rome.
The pontiff's participation at the conference which is organized by FAO and the World Health Organization (WHO), was today confirmed by the Vatican's Permanent Observer to the Rome-based UN agencies, Archbishop Luigi Travaglino.
'I welcome Pope Francis's presence in ICN2 and his commitment to the future we want. A future that starts by ensuring food security and nutrition to every single person,' said FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva.
'The human and socio-economic costs of the multiple burdens of hunger and malnutrition are enormous. That is why all of us are working together to make this important conference happen,' the FAO Director-General added.
ICN2 will be a follow-up to the first such conference, which was held in 1992. It aims to bring together government leaders, other top-level policymakers and representatives of intergovernmental organizations and civil society, to take stock of progress made in improving nutrition and to seek new ways to boost national and global efforts that improve diets and health.
While 842 million people are chronically hungry, FAO estimates that many more die or suffer the ill effects of inadequate nutrition. Close to 7 million children die before their fifth birthday every year, 162 million children under five are stunted while at the same time, 500 million people are obese.
Other heads of state and government, dignitaries and religious leaders have also been invited to ICN2, including UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Italian President Giorgio Napolitano President of Chile Michelle Bachelet, Tanzanian President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Spain's Princess of Asturias Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano.