· Vatican City ·

Message of the Holy Father to fao Conference
Holy Father points the way for reconstruction of post-pandemic economies

Anchored in the common good, friendly to ethics
and respectful
of the environment

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22 June 2021

“The fundamental factor for recovering from the crisis that plagues us is a people-oriented economy, not subject only to profit, but anchored in the common good, friendly to ethics and respectful of the environment”. Pope Francis shared these thoughts in his Message for the opening of the work of the 42nd fao Conference in Rome, held from 15-18 June. The following is a translation from the original message written in Spanish.

To His Excellency
Mr Michał Kurtyka
Minister of Climate and Environment
of the Republic of Poland
President of the 42nd
fao Conference

The present moment, still marked by the health, economic and social crisis caused by Covid-19, demonstrates that the work that fao carries out in seeking appropriate responses to the problems of food insecurity and malnourishment, which continue to be important challenges in our time, has acquired particular relevance. Despite the results obtained in decades past, many of our brothers and sisters still have no access, either in quantity or quality, to necessary food.

Last year, the number of people who were exposed to the risk of severe food insecurity, and who needed immediate support to survive, reached the highest figure of the last five years. This situation could worsen in the future. Conflicts, extreme weather phenomena, economic crises, combined with the current health crisis, constitute a source of famine and hunger for millions of people. Therefore, to face these growing vulnerabilities, it is essential to adopt policies capable of addressing the structural causes that give rise to them.

In order to offer a solution to these needs it is important, first and foremost, to guarantee that food systems are resilient, inclusive, sustainable and capable of providing healthy diets accessible to all. In this perspective, the development of a circular economy is productive: one that guarantees resources for everyone, even for future generations, and that promotes the use of renewable energies. The fundamental factor for recovering from the crisis that plagues us is a people-oriented economy, not subject only to profit, but anchored in the common good, friendly to ethics and respectful of the environment.

The reconstruction of post-pandemic economies offers us the opportunity to reverse the course followed until now and to invest in a global food system capable of withstanding future crises. This includes the promotion of sustainable and diversified agriculture, which bears in mind the precious role of family farms and that of rural communities. In fact, it is paradoxical to observe that a lack or shortage of food is suffered by the very ones who produce it. Three quarters of the world’s poor live in rural zones and depend primarily on agriculture to earn a living. However, due to a lack of access to markets, to land ownership, to financial resources, to infrastructures and to technologies, these brothers and sisters of ours are more at risk of suffering from food insecurity.

I appreciate and encourage the efforts of the international community aimed at assuring that every country be able to put into action the necessary mechanisms to reach their own food autonomy, be it through new models of development and consumption, or through forms of community organization that preserve local ecosystems and biodiversity (cf. Encyclical Laudato Si’, nn. 129, 180). It could be of great help to turn to the potential of innovation to sustain small producers and help them to improve their abilities and their resilience. From this viewpoint, the work you are doing takes on particular importance in the current era of crisis.

At the present juncture, in order to launch the recovery, the fundamental step is the promotion of a culture of care, that is prepared to face the individualistic and aggressive tendency of waste, which is very present in our societies. While few sow tensions, clashes and falsehoods, we, instead, are invited to build, with patience and conviction, a culture of peace that is oriented toward initiatives that embrace all aspects of human life and that help us reject the virus of indifference.

Dear friends, simply outlining programmes is not enough to spur the international community into action; tangible gestures are needed, those that have as their point of reference the common membership in the human family and the promotion of fraternity. Gestures that facilitate the creation of a society that promotes education, dialogue and justice.

Individual responsibility creates collective responsibility, which encourages the family of nations to assume concrete and effective commitments. It is important to “not think only of our interests, our vested interests. Let us welcome this time of trial as an opportunity to prepare for our collective future, a future for all without discarding anyone. Because without an all-embracing vision, there will be no future for anyone” (Homily for Mass on the Liturgical Feast of Divine Mercy, 19 April 2020).

With cordial greetings to you, Mr President of the Conference, and to the Director General of fao, Representatives of the various Nations and International Organizations, and also to the other participants, I wish to express my gratitude for your efforts. The Holy See and the Catholic Church, with their structures and institutions, support the work of this Conference and accompany your dedication to foster a more just world, at the service of our defenceless and needy brothers and sisters.

Fraternally,

Francis

The Vatican, 14 June 2021