Sign up today to join our online community, receive email alerts, and make a difference!
Cancel

Executive Director Ertharin Cousin Remarks at the 33rd Rimini Meeting

Buonasera, Buonasera, Grazie. Piú parlo…No no, I will not try and speak at all in Italian, my Italian is brutal, so if you will, with much apologies, please allow me to speak in English. Let me begin by thanking Alberto for this opportunity to participate. This is probably the fourth time since I became Executive Director that I have had the opportunity to speak on a panel or in conjunction with the FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva. It is my second time as Executive Director to participate on a panel with the CEO of EXPO 2015 Giuseppe Sala and it is always a pleasure to have the opportunity not just to sit on a panel with but to simply be in the presence of my very good friend Staffan de Mistura and so I thank you all for allowing me to speak with you this evening.
WFP in 2011 provided food and food assistance for 100 million people in 75 countries. This effort was led by the 14,000 people who work at WFP everyday but we recognize that the work of feeding the most vulnerable, the poor, the hungry cannot be achieved by one organization working alone, not even if when we work in partnership with the other UN organizations. Every year we work with 2,000 NGOs and it is only with the support of those 2,000 NGOs which represent millions of people from around the world that we have succeeded in feeding the 100 million people.
But that is still not enough. We as a community of people who care and each and every one of you in this room represent those people who care around the world by your presence here today. We recognize that it is only through working together that we can build the resilience that will ensure that organizations like WFP are no longer necessary. 
Because we build the resilience. We build the resilience for people, for women, for families to feed their own children.
In the history of the world never have young people been so connected as they are today: through the Internet, through the tools that Internet provides whether it’s Facebook or Twitter or all the other tools that you are so well aware of that I could never begin to even list. Through these tools you overcome the barriers of language, of geographic differences, of cultural differences.  And when you come together in the spirit of making a difference the opportunity for us to build the resilience that will ensure that we do end hunger becomes a reality.
The questions that were asked from my own personal experiences is why do I believe this is possible and what do I bring to this challenge. You have heard in the introduction that I was in the leadership of the food banks in the United States. But what you didn’t hear was that I was also very much a part of voter registration drives across the country to ensure that the people who had never voted before would have the opportunity to vote, organizing efforts to ensure that women, particularly poor women, would have rights to ensure that they could educate their children.
And when I was very young, I worked for baby seals to ensure that they could live without having them butchered for their coats.
The similarity in all of this work is my central belief that people make the difference that people working together committed to achieve a common result for the common good can overcome all obstacles. There are those who argue that we have had hunger for as long as there have been men on earth but that should be no reason for it to continue. We together can make the difference.
There is as exhibit here in this hall on the construction of the Duomo in Milan. The citizens of Milan believed that through work, innovation, training, research and development and a commitment to a goal, that they could build the greatest cathedral of its time.
It is with that same spirit, those same tools -- working together, the innovation that young people can bring to this goal, research and development to ensure that we can create the seeds -- that I am sure my friend José Graziano will talk about, will ensure that people can grow the food that is necessary to feed their own children and an unrestricted desire to achieve the goal that together we can end hunger.
That is what I believe.  And that is what I bring to WFP and why I believe that this organization makes a difference.
Thank you for this opportunity.