Italian President Sergio Mattarella early this week received the leaders of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP) for a meeting that served to highlight the close interrelationship between their work in development, emergencies and funding.
FAO Director-General, José Graziano da Silva, IFAD President, Gilbert F. Houngbo, and WFP Executive Director, David Beasley, met the Italian head of state at his official residence, the Quirinal Palace in Rome.
During the meeting, which marked the first time that an Italian president has together received the heads of all three Rome-based agencies, Mattarella stressed the importance of FAO, IFAD and WFP’s work in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals including ending hunger and malnutrition.
He also underscored the three agencies’ role in assisting developing countries achieve food security, including curbing food loss and waste.
For his part the FAO Director-General noted that obesity and overweight are growing faster than hunger indicating the need for people to have access to heathier diets. In this regard he cited as an example the Mediterranean diet, which is part of Italy’s heritage and is mostly based on fresh fruit, vegetables, legumes and fish.
Graziano da Silva thanked President Mattarella on behalf of FAO, IFAD and WFP for Italy’s hosting of the three agencies, and in particular for the Italian President’s personal support for their work in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals including Zero Hunger and healthy diets for all.
Each year the President Mattarella has renewed this support through a message sent to the three agencies on World Food Day which falls on 16 October.
Along with then UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, President Mattarella was a keynote speaker when FAO celebrated its 70th anniversary on World Food Day 2015. During his speech the Italian President stressed that “feeding the planet is inseparable from the word ‘peace'”. He also noted that “only joint action can assure food security and the sustainable use of natural resources. Unilateral action does not lead to success.”