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STATEMENT BY AMBASSADOR CESARE MARIA RAGAGLINI, PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF ITALY TO THE UNITED NATIONS, AT THE PLENARY MEETING OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY ON THE OCCASION OF THE GLOBAL LAUNCH OF THE INTERNATIONAL YEAR OF QUINOA 2013 (February 20, 2013)

Mr. President, Mr. Secretary General, Excellencies,


Italy is pleased to attend this plenary meeting of the General Assembly and to join the celebrations for the launch of the International Year of Quinoa.

We welcome the presence today of the President of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, H.E. Evo Morales Ayma, and recognize his leading role in this initiative. We would also like to congratulate him and the First Lady of Peru, Ms. Nadine Heredia, on their appointment as FAO Special Ambassadors for the International Year of Quinoa.

Italy values the dialogue at the United Nations on the role that natural food, such as quinoa, can play in providing adequate nutritional standards, promoting food security, eradicating poverty, preserving bio-diversity and maintaining cultural traditions.

The genuine quality and availability of agricultural foodstuffs are among society’s fundamental needs.

Ensuring healthy and high-quality nutrition help fight hunger and malnutrition, reduce child mortality, prevent non-communicable diseases and eradicate pandemic diseases. 

Producing and consuming quality food is closely intertwined with the farming traditions of local communities, developed over the centuries, and with the objective of sustainable land management.

Quality food also enhances the value of cultural and ethnic heritage as expressed in culinary traditions.

Food culture is an integral part of Italy’s history. At the same time, food security and nutrition have traditionally been among the priorities of our foreign policy and our development cooperation action.

For this reason we welcomed the recent initiative of the ECOSOC and the Second Committee of the General Assembly to hold a joint special event on food security and nutrition.

Thanks to the presence of FAO, WFP and IFAD, Rome is the city where these global issues are most intensely debated at the multilateral level.

I would like to take this opportunity to recall that Italy is preparing to host the 2015 World EXPO in Milan, whose theme is “Feeding the planet. Energy for life”. The exhibition will provide an extraordinary platform to display tradition, creativity and innovation in the food sector, as well as to promote research, technology, and business practices along the entire supply chain to improve the nutritional value, conservation, and distribution of food. To date the Milan EXPO expects 120 confirmed international participants, including the United Nations with the FAO as its lead Organization.

We believe that the International Year of Quinoa in 2013 – together with other initiatives pertaining to food security and nutrition, such as Scaling-up Nutrition and Zero-Hunger Challenge – may provide important synergies with the theme of the 2015 World EXPO. We also see many points of contact between the theme of the EXPO and the ongoing processes on sustainable development goals and the post-2015 development agenda.

Italy stands ready to collaborate with the United Nations – including UN Agencies, Funds and Programs – and with all Member States, including the main promoters of the International Year of Quinoa, to fully exploit these opportunities.

Let me conclude – Mr. President – by welcoming again the launch of the International Year of Quinoa and by expressing our best wishes for its successful implementation.

Thank you.