October 11, 2019
Statement on Agriculture development, Food Security and Nutrition

Statement by H.E. Archbishop Bernardito Auza

Apostolic Nuncio, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations

74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly

2nd Committee Agenda Item 24:

Agriculture development, food security and nutrition

New York, 11 October 2019


Mr. Chair,

One of the achievements of multilateralism in recent years, particularly through the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals, has been the global mobilization to lift nearly a billion people out of extreme poverty.

This positive development stands, however, in stark contrast to the lack of progress on ending world hunger. The latest report of the UN Secretary-General on Agriculture development, food security and nutrition notes, sadly like in previous years, that “in terms of several indicators, the world is not on track in its efforts” related to zero hunger and other targets related to agriculture, food security and nutrition. [1] The report points to alarming figures: an estimated 821 million people – approximately one in nine people in the world – were undernourished in 2018, and undernourishment is increasing in almost all regions of Africa, as well as in South America. Furthermore, 49 million children under 5 years of age were affected by acute undernutrition or wasting in 2018.

My Delegation wishes to recall that our responsibility to the poor, the hungry, the forgotten is a moral duty. “The poor,” Pope Francis noted, “expect from us an effective help that takes them out of their misery, not mere propositions or agreements […]. In this twenty-first century that has seen considerable advances in the field of technology, science, communications and infrastructure, we ought to feel shame for not having achieved the same advances in humanity and solidarity, and so satisfy the primary needs of the most disadvantaged.” [2]

Mr. Chair,

My Delegation wishes to call attention to three worrying tendencies within international efforts to end hunger and ensure “the daily bread” of every man, women and child:

First, there is more than enough food for everyone. While waste, excessive consumption and the use of food for other purposes continue to be a daily reality, millions of people are still suffering and dying of starvation or wasting away. This stems not from the lack of food, but rather from bad management of the food chain and “inappropriate” models of consumption and of production, which unfortunately means a more alarming lack of care for our fellow men and women. While food insecurity and lack of nutritious food continue to result in undernourishment and hunger in many parts of the world, in other regions overnutrition and unhealthy diet resulting in obesity and life-threatening illnesses remain the leading causes of deaths.[3]

Second, whereas various forms of aid and development initiatives, including nutrition-specific projects, are obstructed by political decisions and policies, skewed ideologies and impenetrable customs barriers, the trade in weaponry is not. Pope Francis once noted that “wars are fed, not persons”.[4] This is unacceptable and must spur us to action. Guaranteeing food security, besides being a moral duty, must be a central element in promoting international peace and security, as well as in countering the culture of violence that is often the basis of the “weapons culture” nurtured by the licit and illicit trade in weapons.

Third, like all development issues, ending hunger must be based on partnerships that seek to move all together in the same direction. It means steering away from the tendency to impose the will of a few on the many. It means working for the common good, in good faith with all parties concerned. In this regard, the involvement and the engagement of local communities and the special attention given to their specific needs, challenges and possibilities must be at the heart of our global strategies to defeat hunger.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.


[1] A/74/237.

[2] Pope Francis, Message for the 2018 World Food Day.

[3] Food and Agriculture Organization et al, The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World, 2019.

[4] Pope Francis, 2016 Address to the World Food Programme in Rome.