World Food Day: Pope Francis calls for global solidarity

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In his message on World Food Day 2023, Pope Francis notes that our world is marked by a stark reality, where poverty and despair continue to plague many of our sisters and brothers.

Their cries of anguish and desperation he says, should awaken us from our indifference and prompt us to examine our conscience.

The Pope highlights how prevailing conditions of hunger and malnutrition affecting countless people are the result of an unjust accumulation of inequalities and injustices, leaving many on the margins.

An affront to God-given human dignity

This inequality, he continues, extends beyond just food, reaching all basic resources, making their inaccessibility for many a direct affront to the dignity instilled in them by God. It is undoubtedly an affront, he says, that should shame all of humanity and galvanize the international community into action.

‘Water is life, water is food. Leave no one behind’

Pope Francis reflects on the theme of this year’s World Food Day, “Water is life, water is food. Leave no one behind,” and underscores the irreplaceable value of this resource for all living beings on our planet.

Thus, he adds, we are faced with the grave urgency of planning and implementing water management wisely, carefully, and sustainably, ensuring that everyone can access this vital resource to meet their essential needs while sustaining and promoting proper human development without leaving anyone behind.

Water: a basic human right

Water, the Holy Father, continues, is life because it ensures survival. Nevertheless, this resource currently faces significant challenges in terms of both quantity and quality. In many parts of the world, he says, our brothers and sisters suffer from diseases or even lose their lives due to the absence or scarcity of clean water.

Droughts induced by climate change, he adds, are turning vast regions barren, causing immense damage to ecosystems and populations. Arbitrary management of water resources, distortion, and contamination particularly harm the impoverished and constitute a shameful injustice that we cannot ignore. Instead, we must urgently recognize that ” access to safe drinkable water is a basic and universal human right, since it is essential to human survival and, as such, is a condition for the exercise of other human rights.” (Laudato si’, n. 30).

Water, Pope Francis reiterates, should never be viewed as a mere commodity, an item for exchange or speculation.

Water is food

The Pope goes on to reflect on the fact that water is food because it is vital for achieving food security, serving as a means of production and an indispensable component for agriculture.

Effective programs, he says, are necessary to prevent losses in agricultural irrigation conduits, use pesticides and organic and inorganic fertilizers that do not contaminate water, and support measures that safeguard the availability of water resources to prevent acute scarcity from becoming a cause of conflict between communities, peoples, and nations.

He calls for the use of science, technological innovation, and digital technology to achieve a sustainable balance between consumption and available resources, avoiding negative impacts on ecosystems and irreversible harm to the environment.

The Pope also calls on international organizations, governments and civil society to come together and generate ideas to make water a common heritage, distribute it more equitably, and manage it sustainably and rationally.

An interconnected world

The celebration of World Food Day, Pope Francis concludes, should also serve as a reminder that the culture of waste must be counteracted with responsible and loyal cooperation from all.

Our world, he notes, is too interconnected to afford to be divided into blocks of countries pursuing selfish and biased interests. Instead, we are called to think and act as a global community, emphasizing solidarity and prioritizing the lives of all over the appropriation of goods by a few.