Speaking at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on World Food Day, Pope Francis addressed the need for governments around the world to acknolwedge that climate change and migration were leading to increases in world hunger.
Francis received a standing ovation after a stirring speech in which he said all three issues were interrelated — and require immediate attention.
"We are called to propose a change in lifestyle and the use of resources," Francis told the audience. "We cannot make do by saying 'someone else will do it.’”
Ensuring everyone’s right to food and nourishment is an imperative we cannot ignore. It is a right to which there are no exceptions!— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) October 16, 2017
The Catholic leader’s words came on the heels of a recent UN report that showed an increase in people suffering from chronic hunger on account of climate change-related disasters and conflicts.
For the first time in over a century, the number of chronically hungry people increased, rising by 38 million people between 2015 and 2016. The UN report noted that 815 million people fit the definition for chronic hunger in 2016, comprising about 11% of the world’s population.
At the heart of this rise are climate change and human conflict, both of which drive food insecurity in poverty-stricken communities around the globe.
The Pope called on leaders to take immediate and cooperative efforts to reduce resource consumption and waste creation.
Greed and negligence on a planet with limited resources was harming the world’s poorest people, Francis said. He warned against understanding these problems through the lens of pity, noting that pity “is limited to emergency aid."
Instead, Francis proposed an integrative solution based on love, solidarity, and fraternity. Love is a powerful tool for good Francis said, because it “inspires justice and is essential to bring about a just social order."
In a visceral reminder to world leaders on just how devastating the effects of climate change and conflict caused migration can be, Francis commemorated his visit to the FAO by unveiling a marble statue of three-year old Alan Kurdi, a Syrian-Kurdish migrant who was found dead on the shores of Greece in 2015.
The statue depicts an angel wailing above the boy's corpse. The Vatican said the piece represents represents the tragedy of human migration.