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Milan Expo highlights need to ensure healthy, safe, sufficient food for all

(Xinhua) Updated: 2015-05-20 10:13

UNITED NATIONS - The world produces more than enough food to "feed every member of the human family," yet one in nine people still go hungry, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Friday in a message for the opening ceremony of a six-month long expo in Milan, Italy, in which the world body is taking part to demonstrate that ending hunger in our lifetime is possible.

"The UN is proud to be here to highlight the cause of food security," the secretary-general said in his welcome video message screened in the UN Garden, an open-air area close to 'Pavilion Zero' and the Expo's entrance, where visitors will be introduced to the UN theme for Expo 2015, "The Zero Hunger Challenge: United for a Sustainable World."

The UN participation at Expo 2015 provides a unique opportunity to build momentum around food-related issues, UN officials said here.

The UN commissioner-general for Expo 2015, Eduardo Rojas- Briales, participated in the official opening ceremony in Milan, along with the commissioners-general of some 130 participating countries, said the officials.

Expo Milano 2015 runs through Oct. 31. Over this six-month period, Milan will become a global showcase where more than 140 participating countries, will showcase the best of their technology that offers a concrete answer to a vital need: being able to guarantee healthy, safe food for everyone, while respecting the planet.

The Expo also involves international organizations, and expects to welcome over 20 million visitors to its 1.1 million square meters of exhibition area. A platform for the exchange of ideas on the theme of food, and promoting innovation for a sustainable future, Expo 2015 will give everyone the opportunity to find out about, and taste, the world's best dishes, while discovering the best of the agri-food and gastronomic traditions of each of the exhibitor countries.

The UN participation is aimed at engaging visitors, demonstrating that ending hunger in our lifetime is possible, the officials said, adding that everyone has to do their part, including through a commitment to changing simple actions and daily practices.

In this regard, Ban has designated the world body's Rome-based agencies -- Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and World Food Programme (WFP) -- under the director-general of FAO, Jose Graziano da Silva, to lead in the coordination of the 20 UN agencies participating at Expo.

Also in his message, the secretary-general emphasized the need to urgently redress the dramatic imbalance in the global distribution of food, reiterating his global call-to-action for a world without hunger.

"Everyone has a role to play," Ban said, inviting visitors to discover UN content throughout the Expo site and learn how the Zero Hunger Challenge relates to "each and every one of us."

"This is why I launched the Zero Hunger Challenge, a global call to action for a world without hungry. We have brought this challenge to Expo Milano 2015. All of you have a role to play. We can do it if we can work together," the UN chief said.

Ban's initiative encourages participation by a range of organizations, social movements and people to end hunger in this lifetime. It promotes more investments and increased development cooperation, in line with existing national and international agreements.

For the first time in the history of universal expositions, the United Nations will not have a single pavilion but a horizontal presence, with content spread across numerous areas of the Expo site.

Eighteen giant spoon installations comprise the UN presence, representing the five pillars of the Zero Hunger Challenge, women' s empowerment and gender equality and other UN content related to Expo's thematic areas.

Each spoon will be positioned in a UN space at the Expo site, including at the Pavilion Zero, which is expected to attract some 40 percent of all Expo visitors.

A number of UN panels or stele will be located throughout the Pavilion informing visitors, in a simple storytelling style, about the links between the concepts present in each of the rooms.

The UN presence will emphasize the strong link between the theme, "Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life," and one of the fundamental UN missions: ensuring that all people have the access to safe and nutritious food to lead healthy and active lives, without compromising the needs of future generations.

On Thursday, the Expo held an inaugural concert which featured UN Messenger of Peace Lang Lang, who, a Chinese national, performed with the Teatro alla Scala chorus and orchestra and by the Teatro alla Scala Academy orchestra.

"As a United Nations Messenger of Peace, I can't help but think of the extreme suffering in nearby countries and in the Mediterranean Sea," said Lang in remarks to the press.

"Exploitation, abuse and the criminals associated with it, represent a form of modern slavery that can't be tolerated," he added, calling for global attention to address the crisis.

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