The UN secretary-general has marked World Food Day with a visit to the Milan World's Fair, which is focused on food security and nutrition. Ban Ki-moon called hunger "a terrible injustice."
At the General Assembly in New York last month, world leaders backed the UN's 17 sustainable goals, which include eliminating poverty and hunger within 15 years. With that in mind, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon paid a visit to Milan on Friday to mark World Food Day and invigorate that global commitment to eradicating hunger by 2030.
Ban called for a pledge "for food security for all the people around the world, to build a global movement to end hunger - this will go hand in hand with greater health, economic development and social inclusion for individuals and societies."
Italian officials presented Ban with the Milan Charter, signed by a million people - including some national delegations to the six-month world's fair - containing pledges to help secure food and water for the world's growing population. The document aims to boost awareness of the UN sustainable development goals and to prove part of the expo's legacy in a world where nearly 800 million people go hungry.
"Hunger is more than a lack of food," Ban said. "It's a terrible injustice."
Ban said that it remained up to local communities to make real progress. He emphasized the power of individuals to help combat malnutrition and urged participants to "capture the spirit of Expo Milan and continue to fight against hunger."
'For all people'
Caritas, the Vatican's international charity, criticized the charter as "lacking teeth," without concrete commitments and leaving out topics such as land grabs, genetically modified crops, climate change, desertification and the loss of biodiversity. "People living with hunger were not consulted," Caritas secretary-general Michel Roy said.
Pope Francis also called on world leaders to do more to combat spreading global inequality, which has left some wealthy regions with an abundance of food, but far more regions with far too little. "The creation and the fruits of the Earth are God's gifts for all people, who are also their caretakers and their beneficiaries," the pope wrote in a letter. "Therefore, they must all be justly shared."
Speakers noted that hunger has become a factor in global displacement. World Food Program executive director Ertharin Cousin told AP that the hundreds of thousands of people who have arrived in Europe this year from Africa and Asia could prove "the tip of the iceberg" should officials fail to address poverty and hunger. By 2040, he said, an estimated 83 percent of the world's population will live in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
"People seek refuge or migrate to other lands, to other countries when there is no opportunity, no food and no hope at home," Cousin said.
mkg/msh (EFE, dpa, AP)