United Nations
United Nations 16 Oct 2020

World Food Day (October 16) – António Guterres, UN Secretary-General

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The award of this year's Nobel Prize for Peace to the United Nations World Food Programme recognizes the right of all people to food, and our common quest to achieve zero hunger.

In a world of plenty, it is a grave affront that hundreds of millions go to bed hungry each night.

The COVID-19 pandemic has further intensified food insecurity to a level not seen in decades.

Some 130 million people risk being pushed to the brink of starvation by the end of this year.

This is on top of the 690 million people who already lack enough to eat.

At the same time, more than 3 billion people cannot afford a healthy diet.

As we mark the 75th anniversary of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, we need to intensify our efforts to achieve the vision of the Sustainable Development Goals.

That means a future where everyone, everywhere, has access to the nutrition they need.

Next year, I will convene a Food Systems Summit to inspire action towards this vision.

We need to make food systems more resistant to volatility and climate shocks.

We need to ensure sustainable and healthy diets for all, and to minimize food waste.

And we need food systems that provide decent, safe livelihoods for workers.

We have the know-how and the capacity to create a more resilient, equitable and sustainable world.

On this World Food Day, let us make a commitment to "Grow, Nourish, and Sustain. Together".


Around the world, nearly 1 billion people live with a mental disorder. Every 40 seconds, someone dies from suicide. And depression is now recognized as a leading cause of illness and disability among children and adolescents.

All of this was true, even before COVID-19. We are now seeing the consequences of the pandemic on people's mental well-being, and this is just the beginning. Many groups, including older adults, women, children and people with existing mental health conditions are at risk of considerable medium- and long-term ill-health if action is not taken.

Addressing mental health is central to achieving Universal Health Coverage. It deserves our commitment. Too few people have access to quality mental health services. In low- and middle-income countries, more than 75 per cent of people with mental health conditions receive no treatment at all. And, overall, governments spend on average less than 2 per cent of their health budgets on mental health. This cannot go on.

We can no longer ignore the need for a massive scale-up in investment in mental health. We must act together, now, to make quality mental health care available for all who need it to allow us to recover faster from the COVID-19 crisis.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought renewed attention to the importance of strengthening disaster risk reduction.

Many countries are facing multiple crises simultaneously.

We will see more of this.

Extreme weather events have risen dramatically over the past two decades.

Yet, we have seen little progress on reducing climate disruption and environmental degradation.

Bad situations only get worse without good disaster risk governance.

Disaster risk isn't the sole responsibility of local and national authorities.

COVID-19 has shown us that systemic risk requires international cooperation.

Good disaster risk governance means acting on science and evidence.

And that requires political commitment at the highest level to deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.

To eradicate poverty and reduce the impacts of climate change, we must place the public good above all other considerations.

For these reasons and more, this year's International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction is all about strengthening disaster risk governance to build a safer and more resilient world.
The systems that bring food to our tables have a profound impact on our economies, our health and the environment.

Food systems are one of the main reasons we are failing to stay within our planet's ecological boundaries.

But they can also be the key to tackling the climate crisis, addressing soaring biodiversity loss and healthier societies.

This year, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the fragility of our food systems.

Millions more people are hungry, and millions of jobs have been lost.

Meanwhile, the climate emergency continues apace.

To address these issues, I am convening a Food Systems Summit next year.

This will be a ‘People's Summit' and a ‘Solutions Summit'.

This action-oriented conversation will come together in two key moments.

The first will be a pre-Summit meeting in Rome in summer next year.

This meeting will build on inclusive country and regional dialogues and will define bold actions for inclusive and sustainable food systems.

The second, will be the Food Systems Summit itself, and will bring the attention of all world leaders to this issue.

We need global engagement and action for inclusive and sustainable food systems.

I urge you to join the conversation.
The COVID-19 pandemic is a double crisis for the world's poorest people.

First, they have the highest risk of exposure to the virus, and least access to quality healthcare.

Second, recent estimates show the pandemic could push up to 115 million people into poverty this year - the first increase in decades. Women are at greatest risk because they are more likely to lose their jobs, and less likely to have social protection.

In these extraordinary times, we need extraordinary efforts to fight poverty.

The pandemic demands strong collective action.

Governments must accelerate economic transformation by investing in a green, sustainable recovery.

We need a new generation of social protection programmes that also cover people working in the informal economy.

Joining together in common cause is the only way we will emerge safely from this pandemic.

On the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, let's stand in solidarity with people living in poverty, throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

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