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In pursuit of sustainable development, the common good and care for our common home, we face many challenges, including food systems.

This has prompted the United Nations, along with other international organizations, governments and the Catholic Church, to join efforts to find solutions.

International summits are a great opportunity to make a positive impact. For this reason, Pope Francis sent a message to the United Nations Secretary-General in which he mentioned that we have an enormous responsibility to “realize the dream of a world where bread, water, medicine and work flow in abundance and reach the most needy first”.

His message was forceful and scientifically backed. Francis stressed the importance of nutrition “so that the hearts of children can beat strongly and be able to fully develop their capacities”. He also considered that the condition of the elderly and indigenous communities is the same. 

This year 2021, the current UN Secretary General, António Guterres, will convene a Food Systems Summit, as part of the actions to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

In preparation for the summit, the opening ceremony of the Pre-Summit on Food Systems was recently held in Rome, where the importance of rethinking international efforts to eradicate hunger was highlighted.

Pope Francis’ message to the Pre-Summit was read by Archbishop Paul R. Gallagher, Archbishop Secretary for Relations with States. This year’s theme is relevant to the care of creation.

At the ceremony, Dr. David Beasley, executive director of the World Food Program, moved those present with his words, especially when he alluded to an aspect he considered unacceptable: the fact that there are children who go to bed hungry, and little ones who die of hunger every 5 or 6 seconds. 

The event was also attended by the Director General of the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations), Dr. Qu Dongyu, who supported Dr. Beasley’s idea and affirmed that this is an issue that can be solved, since we currently have the technology and knowledge to be able to supply food to the entire world population. 

According to the report on the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World, published by the United Nations (United Nations

published by the United Nations (2021), between 720 and 811 million people in the world in 2020 will go to bed without having consumed food. That is, approximately 9.9% of the world’s population.

This alarming figure should not be considered only in isolation since, in addition, according to Dr. Gunhild A. Stordalen, president of the EAT Foundation in Sweden, it is necessary to consider the 3 billion individuals with malnutrition, in addition to the waste of food that ends up in landfills.

Approximately 30% of food is wasted, and the costs of this uncontrollable waste exceed 25 times what is needed to feed the entire world. These arguments and figures would seem unrealistic, but unfortunately they are not. 

This Pre-Summit included other relevant contributions for the Summit to be held in September in New York City. This meeting will serve not only to meet the Sustainable Development Goals, but also to alleviate the cry of the Earth and the cry of the poor.

With the intention of fulfilling our mission and caring for our common home, from the Laudato Si’ Movement we join the message of Pope Francis sent to the Pre-Summit to “sow seeds of peace that allow us to walk in authentic fraternity“, and thus ensure dignified food for all humanity.