Every 16th of October we celebrate World Food Day. Caritas Europa joins national and international institutions, civil society organisations and all people of good will in reflecting on the 800 million people who still go hungry in the world every day.
It is now time to build on our last year’s Global Action Week of the “One Human Family, Food for All” campaign, when we pushed the European Parliament to recognise the right to food as a basic human right. This year the momentum should be even greater. Less than two weeks ago world leaders unanimously agreed on signing new Sustainable Development Goals. These 17 goals are applicable to all countries of the world, according to the principle of common and shared responsibility.
Goal number 2 aims at ending hunger in the world, achieving food security and improved nutrition, and promoting sustainable agriculture. This is a renewed objective of one of the only partially achieved Millennium Development Goals, which were set out 15 years ago. We cannot wait any longer, but need a stronger and more ambitious commitment now!
Europe is the first world donor in terms of official development assistance, and food security is among the priorities of development policies in the ongoing financial framework. But this is clearly not enough. Caritas Europa therefore calls on all EU institutions and sectors to improve coherence among development policies. Climate change, energy and land governance are only a few issues that have a direct impact on the possibility of achieving the right to food for all in a sustainable way. In this sense, the World Food Day should concern each and every one of us.
Yet, when thinking about the dysfunctions in the food system in Europe, the first things that come to mind are food waste, food loss and food poverty. The European Commission estimates that nearly 100 million tons of food is wasted every day. Caritas Europa sees this as a deep wound to the dignity of our region and a sign of non-respect for all populations facing problems linked to the lack of food. “Solidarity” and “dignity” are two key pillars for Europe; failing to adhere to these pillars will weaken the EU’s mandate. For this reason, we urge a rethinking about fairer and more sustainable systems of production and consumption.
The Caritas network provides support to those in need through direct food distribution, soup kitchens, food banks, access to microcredits or investments in social agriculture. However, the increasing need for these kinds of actions merely confirms a more systemic crisis. This needs to be resolved with a step-bystep and holistic approach. In his Encyclical “Laudato Sì”, Pope Francis reaffirmed the comprehensive sickness in which we are living. An ethical imperative on solidarity should lead us to a more respectful attitude and more joyful results, allowing all to a life of dignity.