Poster in Oct 17, 2023 04:48:01

World Food Day: Global ceremony highlights water’s role against troubled backdrop

World Food Day: Global ceremony highlights water’s role against troubled backdrop

FAO Director-General QU Dongyu addresses the opening ceremony of World Food Day. Photo: Collected

FAO rallies global community behind 2023 theme: Water is Life, Water is Food - Leave No One Behind

Against the background of growing world hunger and conflict, this year's World Food Day 2023 global event took place in Rome on 16/10/2023. In particular, participants emphasized the critical role water plays in our food security and how we can better manage this precious and limited resource and not take it for granted.

In opening remarks, QU Dongyu the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, said this year's World Food Day theme: Water is Life, Water is Food. - Leave no one behind, "makes the vital connection between water and food - without water, there is no food and there is no food security without water security".

However, rapid population growth, urbanization, industrialization, economic development, and the climate crisis have all taken a toll on our water resources the world over, while increasing floods and droughts are further impacting agrifood systems-jeopardizing the livelihoods of millions of farmers, Qu noted.

Producing more with less

"But the good news is that we can produce more and better, with less. We can reduce water use, by using water wisely, and by recycling. And we can reduce agriculture's water footprint by adopting a holistic and integrated approach to water management". the FAO Director-General said.

Italy's President Sergio Mattarella in his address noted that: "Scarcity of water is at the root of poverty, of conflict and therefore the resource has to be managed "with determination and ingenuity as it can lead to peace and well-being".

Irish President Michael D. Higgins, said: "We are at a perilous tipping point in terms of this precious resource". He added: "It is important that we not encourage young people to repeat or extend our mistakes, you will have to do everything differently"!

Pope Francis, in a message read on his behalf, said: "World Food Day is being celebrated at a time when misery and despair give no respite to many of our brothers and sisters", and highlighted the "irreplaceable value" of water as a resource for all living beings on the planet.

In his video message, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres underlined water's role as a necessity for nutritious and healthy food, adding: "The sustainable management of water for agriculture and food production is essential to end hunger, achieve the SDGs, and preserve water for future generations".

Mariam Almheiri, United Arab Emirates Minister for Climate Change and Environment, said: "There are so many fundamental things we need to change about how water is managed and it's so important that we do this because water has not been given the attention it deserves".

Alvaro Lario, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development said: "The nexus of water, food, energy, and climate change is fundamental to improving the resilience of our food systems".       

Cindy McCain, Executive Director of the World Food Programme, said:  "As droughts degrade agricultural lands and water scarcity stokes instability, climate change is plunging more people into hunger and despair. We must work together, innovating and collaborating, to bring hope and resilience to vulnerable communities around the world".

Also present at the ceremony were King Letsie III of Lesotho,  Prince Hassan bin Talal of Jordan, and Kassim Majaliwa, Prime Minister of the United Republic of Tanzania.

Today's World Food Day celebration also featured the presentation of the second-ever FAO Achievement Award, which recognizes professional achievements,  dedication, and innovation in the field of agriculture and food security. This year's award has been jointly conferred on the Sara Bangla Krishak Society, a national farmer's organization from Bangladesh, and Farmer Lifeline Technologies from Kenya, which has pioneered technologies to detect crop pests and diseases. In addition, the FAO Director-General congratulated the FAO country office in Nepal for its Emergency Center for Transboundary Animal Diseases.

Junior inspiration ahead

Later in the week on October 19, Junior World Food Day will bring together chefs, influencers, innovators, and special guests with young minds for an engaging cross-cultural conversation, and cooking show, aimed at inspiring water action for food.  During this fun-filled event with inspiring stories, music, and art, there will also be a live performance of the 2023 youth music video by the Piccola Orchestra di Tor Pignattara and friends.

The World Food Forum (WFF) flagship event will take place at FAO headquarters in Rome on 16-20 October. The event comprises the WFF Global Youth Forum, the FAO Science and Innovation Forum, and the FAO Hand-in-Hand Investment Forum.

FAO champions accelerated water action

FAO has recently highlighted the importance of water, through a series of initiatives and events collectively branded by the Organization as its Water Journey. One of these the Rome Water Dialogue, held earlier this month, was aimed at finding synergies and solutions to water's critical role relating to soils, land, climate change, biodiversity, and agriculture. It also showcased practical contributions to making better use of our freshwater resources, given that agriculture accounts for more than 70 percent of the planet's freshwater withdrawals.

FAO's practical support to countries is extensive and embraces technical solutions for rainwater harvesting and storage, aquifer storage and recovery, non-conventional water resources for agriculture, irrigation systems, and fish passages. The Organization works with countries to map out irrigation needs and potential. It supports countries with data, and information, through platforms such as FAO's recently expanded Water Productivity Open-access of Remotely sensed derived data (WaPOR)  and the Global Framework on Water Scarcity in Agriculture (WASAG). FAO is also working on a global assessment of the impact of floods on agriculture and assisting countries to develop National Water Roadmaps, helping ensure sustainable water management.

World Food Day is celebrated on 16 October every year to commemorate FAO's founding on that day in 1945.

You can find out more about FAO's work on Land and Water here

Source: Online/GFMM

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