Pope Francis has spoken of social and environmental justice with a delegation from Fairtrade International, and has expressed his concerns over world hunger in a private audience with Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Qu Dongyu.

– Francis “pleased” with Fairtrade’s efforts for more than 5 million vulnerable farmers

In a press release, Fairtrade gave the following account of its representatives’ meeting with the pontiff:

“A Fairtrade International delegation met with Pope Francis on Monday, 23 November, to present the work Fairtrade is doing around the world to promote fairer trading conditions for more than 5 million farmers, agricultural workers, their families and communities.

“The delegation of five Fairtrade representatives from Germany, Luxembourg, Italy, Kenya and Mexico presented Fairtrade’s new, five-year global strategy to demonstrate to Pope Francis what Fairtrade can do to achieve social and environmental justice for some of the world’s most vulnerable populations.

“The Fairtrade delegation also gave Pope Francis a gift box filled with a selection of Fairtrade-certified products, each with messages of support and gratitude from farmers from around the world, extending an invitation to His Holiness to become a prominent voice in support of issues that affect their livelihoods.

“The delegation was received by Pope Francis at the Apostolic Palace on St. Peter’s Square, in Rome. The private meeting with the Pope took 35 minutes, during which Pope Francis seemed pleased with Fairtrade’s work”.

– Pope, FAO director discuss ways to meet Sustainable Development Goals

The Pope’s meeting with Fairtrade representatives Monday came on the heels of the private audience he held Friday November 20 with FAO director Qu.

At that meeting, “the pontiff reiterated his concern over hunger and strongly encouraged FAO in its efforts to combat this scourge worldwide”, according to a FAO press release.

As the FAO recalled, “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 FAO went on:

“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”.

All of Novena’s news on Pope Francis:

Francis thanks young people in Italy for ‘Advent Green Dream’ radio program

Pope says firm ‘no’ to party politics in Church: “We should not be sectarian, one against the other”

Pope pleads: “We all need to do a lot more for the dignity of each woman”

In new interview, Pope calls for Universal Basic Income, urges focus “beyond shareholder value” in post-COVID economy

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