20 November 2020, Rome – Pope Francis today received FAO Director-General QU Dongyu for a meeting at the Vatican during which the pontiff reiterated his concern over hunger and strongly encouraged FAO in its efforts to combat this scourge worldwide.
The occasion marked the second time Francis has invited Qu to a papal audience since he took over as FAO Director-General in August 2019.
The Director-General said he felt “deeply honoured to be received by His Holiness again”, and thanked him for his continued support of FAO’s mandate and the UN agencies’ activities and initiatives.
These include the Food Coalition that seeks to bring together countries to take concerted action to prevent the COVID-19 international health emergency from triggering a catastrophic world food crisis. The Director-General also referred to FAO’s role in the ethical use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Rome Call for AI Ethics endorsed by Pope Francis and co-signed by FAO, IBM and Microsoft.
He also cited efforts to transform agri-food systems in ways that can help reduce food loss and waste, increase resilience, achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and leave no one behind. Francis in a special video message to FAO on World Food Day on October 16, which also marked the Organization’s 75th anniversary, stressed the importance “to ensure that food systems are sustainable and offer healthy diets that are accessible to all”. The pontiff also expressed his hope that FAO’s work be “ever more incisive and more fruitful”, and prayed for all those who “cooperate in this fundamental mission of cultivating the land, feeding the hungry and safeguarding natural resources, so that we can all live with dignity, respect and love.”
The Vatican is a strong ally of FAO in working towards more social responsibility along the fisheries and aquaculture value chain and ahead of World Fisheries Day 2020 on November 21, FAO and the Holy See’s Dicastery for Promoting Human Integral Development co-organized a virtual event within the context of the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the foundation of the Vatican’s Stella Maris centre which focuses on the rights and needs of seafarers.
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