Rome — "Without peace there can be no end to hunger, and without ending hunger, there cannot be peace"
Greater progress in the effort to slash world hunger and malnutrition will pay a "peace dividend" by reducing pressures that feed into social unrest and civil conflict, FAO said today.
Announcing today FAO's partnership in a major inter-religious all-star football "Match for Peace" taking place on 1 September at Rome's storied Olympic Stadium, FAO Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva said: "Every day, over 840 million people on this planet go without enough to eat, and in far too many places, conflict is a major driver behind hunger and malnutrition."
"The prevention and resolution of conflict is central to the goal of eradicating hunger and malnutrition. Indeed, without peace there can be no end to hunger, and without ending hunger, there cannot be peace," he added.
First proposed by Pope Francis and featuring some of football's greatest players of past and present, the inter-religious sporting event is being organized by the Vatican's Scholas Occurrentes initiative and Italy's Fundazione PUPI, headed up by renowned ex-footballer Javier Zanetti, Inter vice-president.
Its goal: to unite fans and players from all world regions and faiths, through their shared love of football, in a moment of unity and solidarity in support of world peace.
Included in the star-studded lineup for the September 1 match are FAO Goodwill Ambassador Roberto Baggio, Gianluigi Buffon, Samuel Eto'o, Javier Mascherano, Lionel Messi, Mesut Özil, Andrea Pirlo, Ronaldinho, Andriy Shevchenko and David Trezeguet.
"FAO is pleased to be a partner in this historic event. The world's shared passion for football reminds us that we are all one global family," added Graziano da Silva.
"The 'Match for Peace' will be a historic event. The strong support of Pope Francis for this initiative has helped us bring together some of the world's most well-known players, without distinction for nationality, religion, or beliefs. It will be an event grounded in spirituality, brotherhood, and athletic excellence, undertaken in the name of promoting engagement and dialogue between the peoples of the world, to advance world pace," said Roberto Sarti, of the match's organizing committee.
"We will be taking a message of hope to the world, promoting fraternity between religions in search of a world from which no one is excluded. Hunger plays a major role in this search, since if there is hunger, there can be no true inclusion. So we are particularly grateful to FAO for its important support for this initiative, and will actively support the diffusion of the message 'Peace to defeat hunger,'" he added.
Ending hunger and malnutrition will advance the cause of peace
During the match -- which will be viewed by millions of people worldwide -- FAO will be drawing attention to how eliminating hunger and promoting good nutrition can build a more stable and peaceful planet.
"Hunger and malnutrition are not only a result of conflict - they can also provoke it," explained Graziano da Silva. "Eradicating hunger and malnutrition helps to prevent conflict and advances the cause of peace," he said.
This is one reason why FAO and the UN World Health Organization (WHO) are convening a major conference in Rome in November to tackle the issue of "hidden hunger" - malnutrition and micro-nutrient deficiencies caused by inadequate diets.
The human costs of poor nutrition are extremely high: 2 billion people worldwide suffer from one or more micronutrient deficiencies, including 162 million children under the age of five who are stunted and 51 million children who experience acute malnutrition and wasting. At the same time, around 500 million adults suffer from obesity.
Beyond the human toll, the cost of malnutrition, including obesity, to the global economy is estimated percent to run as much as 5 percent of the world's GDP -- roughly $3.5 trillion.
November's 2nd International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) will bring world leaders, policy experts, scientists, nutritionists, farmers, and civil society representatives together to build political will and establish a common agenda for tackling the scourge of hidden hunger.
"Hunger disrupts the fabric of societies and nations, is a major source of human suffering, and undermines world peace," said the FAO chief. "It is a global problem that require global solutions. November's ICN2 represents an opportunity for collective action against malnutrition that the international community must seize."
The Partita per la Pace will start at 20:35 Central European Time, 1 September 2014. It will be broadcast in Europe on Italy's RAI1 and in Argentina via Futbol Para Todos at 15:35 local time.