When the World Food Prize symposium and award presentation is held for several days each October in downtown Des Moines, it often feels like a session of the United Nations. Dozens of foreign ministers and top agricultural officials from many nations meet in the Iowa State Capitol and at downtown hotels to discuss ag policy and food issues. This year, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will address the World Food Prize laureate award ceremony at the Capitol October 18. The World Food Prize Foundation is headquartered in Des Moines.
"Given the exceptional leadership that the United Nations has played and continues to play in confronting global hunger, we are extremely honored that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has accepted our invitation to travel to Des Moines, to be here in Iowa to participate in the 2012 World Food Prize ceremony and conference this October," says Ambassador Kenneth Quinn, president of the World Food Prize Foundation.
Quinn noted that "it is especially meaningful for the Secretary-General to participate at this ceremony since the 2012 World Food Prize Laureate, Dr. Daniel Hillel, is an individual who has endeavored to build peace and understanding throughout the Middle East by sharing the micro-irrigation technology which he helped develop in Israel."
U.N. leader's appearance at World Food Prize is huge moment for the award
Ambassador Quinn notes that "World Food Prize founder, the late Nobel Peace Prize laureate Norman Borlaug, was the recipient of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization's Agricola Award as one of the greatest hunger fighters of all times." Quinn says "this will add further significance to the Secretary General's historic visit, as will the fact that it will occur during the week of October 16, which is UN World Food Day around the globe, and Dr. Norman E. Borlaug World Food Prize Day in Iowa."
In addition to the U.N. secretary-general, two other high-ranking United Nations representatives will also participate in the Laureate Award Ceremony: Her Royal Highness Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, a UN Messenger of Peace; and Ambassador Ertharin Cousin, the executive director of the UN World Food Program.
Over 1,500 participants from more than 70 countries are expected to take part in the week-long World Food Prize series of events between October 16 and October 20. Those events include the Laureate Award Ceremony, the Borlaug Dialogue international symposium, the Iowa Hunger Summit and the World Food Prize Global Youth Institute.
Ban Ki-moon has often focused on alleviating world hunger while at UN
Ban, age 68, has often focused on hunger during his term as secretary-general. The former foreign minister of South Korea was elected to head the United Nations in 2007 and his term is scheduled to end in 2016. On the first day of the 67th U.N. General Assembly on September 25, Ban urged world leaders to help West Africa's Sahel region, where a severe food crisis affects 18 million people. In June 2012 Ban launched the Zero Hunger Challenge. He said an estimated 1 billion people still go to bed hungry each night.
ABOUT THE WORLD FOOD PRIZE: The World Food Prize was founded in 1986 by Dr. Norman E. Borlaug, an Iowa native and recipient of the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize. Since then, the World Food Prize has honored outstanding individuals who have made vital contributions to improving the quality, quantity or availability of food throughout the world. Laureates have been recognized from Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Denmark, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Mexico, Sierra Leone, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United Nations and the United States. Register for the 2012 Borlaug Dialogue and see a complete list of speakers at the World Food Prize website.