19 October 2001


Following is the message of General Assembly President Han Seung-soo (Republic of Korea) to mark World Food Day, 18 October, delivered on his behalf by Assembly Vice-President Murarji Raj Sharma (Nepal):

It is well known that hunger is both a cause and an effect of extreme poverty. Hunger is the consequence of lack of access to adequate and safe food, which is the most basic prerequisite for human survival. In addition to limiting the potential for sustainable development, poverty also has a severe negative impact on the natural environment.

It is shocking to realize that almost half of the world's population is still living in poverty and one in five people live on less than a dollar a day. Of these, more than 800 million are chronically undernourished or suffering from hunger. In this sense, the theme of this year's World Food Day -- "Fight Hunger to Reduce Poverty" -- is both timely and appropriate, underscoring the fact that the problems of hunger and poverty are interlinked and indivisible.

The world’s leaders reaffirmed in their Millennium Declaration that poverty is the single most important underlying cause of major social problems, which were identified at the Children’s Summit in 1991 and at the Copenhagen Social Summit in 1995. Among the various facets of the poverty problem, hunger is perhaps the most ancient and enduring, yet also the most easily preventable. This was recognized at the World Food Summit in 1996, which set forth the goal of reducing by half the number of hungry people by the year 2015.

In this regard, I attach great importance to the International Conference on Financing for Development, to be held in Monterrey, Mexico, in March next year. In my view, the most effective and expeditious way to achieve this goal is through significantly increasing official development assistance (ODA) to the agricultural sector. The international community should step up their efforts to respond to the needs of the marginalized countries through increased policy support and investment in agriculture, rural development and food security.

In pursuing the worldwide fight against hunger and poverty, it is essential to forge partnerships with major stakeholders as well as to promote transparent and effective governance at the national, regional and global levels. In view of the ever-increasing activities of the private sector and civil society, their knowledge, resources and potential can be of great benefit for our common endeavour.

On this World Food Day, I urge all peoples and governments, the private sector and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to constructively collaborate to create a world where hunger and poverty are no longer the fate of billions of human beings. We owe this to ourselves and, especially, to the children of the world.

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