November 2, 2015
Statement on Agenda Item 26: Agriculture development, food security and nutrition
Delivered in New York on November 2, 2015

Statement by H.E. Archbishop Bernardito  Auza
Apostolic Nuncio, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations
Second Committee of the 70th Session of the General Assembly
Agenda Item 26: Agriculture development, food security and nutrition

New York, November 2, 2015

Mr. Chair,

My delegation wishes to thank the Secretary General for his Report on Agricultural Development, Food Security and Nutrition (A/70/33), which provides a timely update on progress being made on ending hunger and eliminating malnutrition for all, in view of the call of the 2nd Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) to "end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture."

As the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) expire, it is important to evaluate the implementation and achievement of MDG 1 Target 2, which summoned the world community to work to “halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people who suffer from hunger.” This evaluation is key for us to know where we stand, as we start to implement Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2 Target 1 to “end hunger” by 2030 “and ensure access by all people, in particular the poor and people in vulnerable situations, including infants, to safe, nutritious and sufficient food all year round.” In a word, now is the appropriate time to take stock of the situation, assess what progress has been made, identify where the greatest needs are and determine where progress needs to be consolidated to avoid setbacks.

We are encouraged by the fact that since 1990 over 215 million persons have been lifted out of hunger, undernourishment has been reduced almost by half, and over 55% of the 129 developing countries reached the MDG target of cutting in half the prevalence of undernourishment. We are encouraged further by the recent global poverty forecasts, which indicate that the number of people living in extreme poverty is expected to fall, for the first time, below 10% of the global population before the end of 2015.

However, as the Secretary General’s Report notes, progress made in reducing hunger remains “highly uneven.” Almost 800 million people continue to suffer chronic hunger. There are marked differences across regions in reducing hunger, with a high proportion of the world’s hungry living in South Asian and sub-Saharan African countries. Populations in war-torn regions, especially mothers and children, are acutely vulnerable to hunger and food shortages. Achieving SDG 2 can only happen in the context of peaceful societies. In fact, the evaluations on the MDGs clearly demonstrate that countries in conflict have lagged far behind in the realization of the MDGs; indeed, many have suffered regressions.

While these findings provide a measure of the magnitude of the task that still lies ahead, they also tell us where to concentrate our efforts in order to help achieve SDG 2 Target 1 by 2030.

Pope Francis, who has repeatedly expressed his concern over the prevalence of hunger, reminds us of the “paradox of plenty” in a world “in which there is food for everyone, but not everyone can eat, while waste, excessive consumption and the use of food for other purposes is visible before our very eyes.”[1]  One third of the global production of food is not available because of difficulties in its distribution and conservation in many parts of the world, because of our wastefulness and even because of “policies for market stabilization” that demand the deliberate destruction of food. Were this loss prevented or reduced, the number of hungry people in the world would be drastically reduced.

We cannot forget that hunger, like all forms of poverty, is exacerbated by exclusion. We can eliminate hunger and food insecurity and foster human dignity by promoting inclusion and solidarity. The individual who lacks daily nourishment is reduced to fighting just for survival, without prospects and projects for the future. 

In order to raise our ethical awareness against wastefulness and greed, Pope Francis insists that the waste of food is a fruit of the “throwaway culture” and a sad sign of a “globalization of indifference” that anesthetizes us slowly from feeling the sufferings of others. The challenge to defeat hunger and malnutrition does not have just an economic or scientific dimension, but also and above all an ethical and anthropological dimension. Thus, raising our ethical awareness is key to beating this challenge.

The celebration of the 2014 International Year of Family Farming allowed us to focus our gaze on the fundamental role of the family as a driver of development. There are more than 500 million family farms in the world, mostly belonging to peasants, indigenous peoples, traditional communities, pastoralists and other rural groups.  They remain an important part of the solution for a world free from poverty and hunger. The family is also the place where we first receive education in solidarity and in a way of life that makes us overcome the “throwaway culture” and the “globalization of indifference.” In the family, we learn to take care of the other, to love the harmony of sustainable creation, to care for our common home.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.


[1] Address to the Second International Conference on Nutrition, Rome, November 2014.