Since its inception, the UN system has been working to ensure adequate food for all through sustainable agriculture. More than simply a humanitarian concern, food security advances world peace. This was recognized as far back as 1949, when the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Lord John Boyd Orr for his role as founding Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
The majority of the world’s poorest people live in rural areas of developing countries. They depend on agriculture and related activities for their livelihoods. This makes them particularly vulnerable to man-made and natural influences that reduce agricultural production.
As the UN system’s lead agency for agriculture and rural development, FAO advances long-term strategies to increase food production and food security. Among the many UN bodies that support these goals, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), finances agricultural development programmes and projects to help rural people overcome poverty.
And when an emergency situation arises or disaster strikes, the World Food Programme (WFP) is prompt in delivering food aid to the victims of war, civil conflict, drought, floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, crop failures and natural disasters. When the emergency subsides, WFP’s food aid helps communities rebuild their shattered lives and livelihoods. In rural communities, FAO’s agricultural expertise often proves crucial in the process of emergency relief and rehabilitation.
The UN system provides a powerful vehicle through which the collective will and commitment of the international community can advance the goal of helping end hunger worldwide by promoting sustainable agriculture.
"The statistics are startling, but the stories of each household affected by hunger, and each malnourished child, are truly appalling. I saw it myself in my village when I was younger. I see it now when I travel, and it never ceases to disturb me. Parents cutting down on the food they eat to ensure their children have enough. Households selling their animals, land or even homes to buy food. Mothers struggling each day to protect their children from the physical and mental scars of malnutrition. World poverty cannot be reduced without improvements in agriculture and food systems."
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
Remarks to High-Level meeting on Food Security for All
Madrid, (Spain) 27 January 2009