Pope Francis to add voice to hunger fight at International Conference on Nutrition

(Photo: Courtesy FAO)Graziano da Silva of Brazil, Director-General of FAO with Pope Francis in an undated photograph.

Pope Francis is to add his voice to the fight against hunger and malnutrition again by addressing the Second International Conference on Nutrition in November.

The ICN2 is scheduled to take place from November 19 to 21 at the headquarters of the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome.

The Pope had highlighted the issue to 1.2 billion Catholics in his apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel).

In that appeal Francis said, "We are scandalized because we know that there is enough food for everyone and that hunger is the result of a poor distribution of goods and income. The problem is made worse by the generalized practice of wastefulness."

Catholic Relief Services said the challenge for the Church is to challenge the Church is take the goal of ending hunger by 2025.

The pontiff's participation at the conference which is organized by FAO and the World Health Organization (WHO), was confirmed Tuesday by the Vatican's Permanent Observer to the Rome-based UN agencies, Archbishop Luigi Travaglino, the FAO said in a statement.

"I welcome Pope Francis's presence in ICN2 and his commitment to the future we want. A future that starts by ensuring food security and nutrition to every single person," said FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva.

"The human and socio-economic costs of the multiple burdens of hunger and malnutrition are enormous. That is why all of us are working together to make this important conference happen," the FAO director-general said.

ICN2 will be a follow-up to the first such conference, which was held in 1992.

It aims to assemble government leaders, other top-level policymakers and representatives of intergovernmental organizations and civil society, to take stock of progress made in improving nutrition and to seek new ways to boost national and global efforts that improve diets and health.

FAO said 842 million people are chronically hungry and it estimates that many more die or suffer the ill effects of inadequate nutrition.

It said close to 7 million children die before their fifth birthday every year, 162 million children under five are stunted while at the same time, 500 million people are obese.

Other heads of state and government, dignitaries and religious leaders have also been invited to ICN2, including UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Italian President Giorgio Napolitano President of Chile Michelle Bachelet, Tanzanian President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Spain's Princess of Asturias Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano.

Copyright © 2014 Ecumenical News