About the Author: Ertharin Cousin serves as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Agencies in Rome.
On this World Food Day, let us reflect on the way forward. We must sustain the willpower, courage and persistence demonstrated over the past year, because only then will we relieve the suffering of the one billion hungry people in the world, ensuring that mothers and children have nutritious, locally grown food. In celebrating World Food Day, the United States Mission to the United Nations Agencies in Rome organized several events to increase public awareness of the global challenge of hunger and malnutrition.
Yesterday, I participated in the FAO's (United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization) World Food Day Ceremony here in Rome. As I sat amongst representatives from around the world, I was truly inspired to see such strong support from the international community for the elimination hunger and malnutrition worldwide. I also had the pleasure of seeing Academy Award-winning Actress Susan Sarandon named as one of the FAO's new Goodwill Ambassadors. I'm delighted that a world-renowned actress such as Ms. Sarandon will be working to shine a spotlight on the importance of promoting food security and nutrition throughout the world.
In conjunction with this year's World Food Day, the Mission hosted the 7th Annual George McGovern Lecture at the FAO Headquarters on October 8. George McGovern's life-long dedication to combating global hunger has had a far-reaching impact on food and agriculture development policy around the globe. The former Ambassador and U.S. Senator served as the first Director of the Food for Peace Program and was named as one of the 2008 World Food Prize Laureates. A significant figure in America today, McGovern inspired leaders around the world to strengthen their efforts to vigorously address the challenge of global hunger.
This year's McGovern lecture, attended by Ambassadors, students, and members of the multilateral community, was presented by E. Thomas Sullivan, Provost and Vice President of the University of Minnesota. His presentation focused on the University of Minnesota's collaboration with FAO to enhance leadership capacity-building and technical assistance programs, and he featured the University's Whole Village Project in Tanzania, which measures the impact of development aid; initiatives in improving crop productivity; and e-learning programs.
I, along with my team at the U.S. Mission, will be participating in a "Run-for-Food" through Rome's historical center to support the "Fruit Trees for Haiti" awareness-raising TeleFood initiative of FAO. The Tri-Mission -- including my team, the U.S. Embassy in Rome, and the U.S. Mission to the Holy See -- will run (and walk) to demonstrate to the community of Rome and the United Nations America's commitment to ending global hunger and malnutrition.
Food insecurity and hunger generate a moral imperative, involving a complex set of issues that will require not just a bilateral U.S. response but a global community response and a multilateral organization response. Reducing by half the proportion of the world's hungry by 2015 is not a goal beyond our reach. We have the public will and global commitment. As Secretary Clinton said last June, at the announcement of the 2009 World Food Prize, "The question is not whether we can end hunger, it's whether we will."
On this World Food Day, I am proud to join President Obama, Secretary Clinton and the growing global consensus, which I have witnessed first-hand as Ambassador, in calling attention to the urgent need for action to fight global hunger.
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