UN Celebrates 2014 World Food Day, FAO Releases State of Food and Agriculture Report
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The 2014 International World Food Day, celebrated on 16 October, focused on 'Family Farming: Feeding the World, Caring for the Earth.' The day, syncing with the 2014 International Year of Family Farming, featured statements, events, and reports from the UN system on the important role of family farmers.

FAO16 October 2014: International World Food Day 2014, celebrated on 16 October, focused on ‘Family Farming: Feeding the World, Caring for the Earth.’ The day, syncing with the 2014 International Year of Family Farming, featured statements, events, and reports from the UN system on the important role of family farmers.

To commemorate the Day, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon delivered a message giving thanks to family farmers. “They run the vast majority of farms in the world. They preserve natural resources and agro-biodiversity. They are the cornerstone of inclusive and sustainable agriculture and food systems,” he said. He celebrated the fact that 100 million fewer people are hungry around the world than ten years ago, but said that the world can still reach a Zero Hunger vision. Looking to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) the design of the post-2015 development agenda, and the negotiation of a universal climate agreement, Ban said that 2015 will be an important opportunity to “turn the tide” against hunger.

Also on the Day, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) released the report ‘State of Food and Agriculture 2014,’ which recognizes that 90 percent of the world’s 570 million farms are family-managed. The report also identifies family farmers as important actors in the conservation of natural and agricultural resources, particularly with the onset of climate change. FAO Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva commented on the report’s focus on family farmers, writing, “we recognize that [family farmers] are natural leaders in the response to the three big challenges facing the farming world today: improving food security and nutrition while preserving crucial natural resources and limiting the extent of climate change.”

UN World Food Programme (WFP) Executive-Director, Ertharin Cousin, gave remarks celebrating the Day in Rome, Italy. She called family farms the “fulcrum on which our future food security pivots,” while also stressing the need for gender equality to address the unequal conditions for women in agricultural work.

In a statement to Member States, UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Hilal Elver, also spoke of the important role of family farmers in environmental sustainability. “Family farming is based on tradition, and forms the social fabric of many societies playing a key role in protecting the world’s biodiversity and promoting the sustainable use of natural resources,” she wrote.

The Executive Secretary of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), Monique Barbut, put out a statement calling for an end to the “cycle of diminishing returns to family farmers.” She called for international support to help farmers switch to sustainable land management and agricultural techniques, and for policy-makers to encourage these developments.

At UN Headquarters in New York, US on 16 October 2014, the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) hosted an event to commemorate the day and to celebrate family farmers. Titled ‘Forests and Family Farming for Food Security and Nutrition,’ the event emphasized the intersection of sustainable forest management and family farming, and focused on the importance of indigenous peoples and local communities. [UNSG Statement] [UN News Press Release] [FAO Publication: 2014 State of Food and Agriculture] [FAO Report Press Release] [FAO Event Press Release] [UN CFS Side Event] [IFAD World Food Week] [UNRIC Press Release] [UNCCD Message] [IISD RS story on CFS]

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