BRASILIA - James Morris, the Executive Director of the world's largest humanitarian organization, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), is in Brazil for talks with top officials on strengthening its partnership with the Government to fight world hunger.
During his three-day visit, Morris met President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, several of his Ministers, members of Congress and Frei Betto, Special Adviser to the Presidency and Coordinator of Social Mobilization of the Zero Hunger Programme.
"President Lula's strong leadership in the effort to create a world alliance against global hunger has put the issue forcefully back on the international agenda," Morris said. "We welcome Brazil's efforts in recent years to raise international awareness of the plight of the hungry, as well as its concrete actions to resolve hunger at home."
After decades of progress, the number of hungry people is on the rise again. According to estimates by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, the number of chronically hungry people increased by nearly 60 million in 26 countries over the past decade.
Last January, during a meeting in Geneva, President Lula proposed a World Alliance against Hunger and Poverty and signed a joint declaration with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, President Jacques Chirac of France and Chilean President Ricardo Lagos.
One of the objectives of the Alliance is to create a fund against hunger, which would be replenished with levies imposed on arms transactions, international financial operations or other financial mechanisms. Donor countries and the private sector would also participate with voluntary contributions. The UN would be the guarantor of the resources.
The Alliance aims to present a proposal to the UN General Assembly in September on how to reduce hunger worldwide by half in 2015, which is one of the main Millennium Development Goals adopted by the UN in 2000.
Morris said WFP hoped to join forces with Brazil to find new ways to fight hunger across the globe and to create a level playing field for the world's farmers to help encourage food production in the developing world.
"WFP believes that if we are to win the fight against hunger, new alternatives should be considered to raise funds from major untapped sources available in many countries, such as national lotteries. The range of options being discussed needs to be much broader than in the past and to involve the private sector, corporations, foundations and individuals. Fighting hunger is in the interest of everyone on this planet," Morris said.
Before arriving in Brasilia, Morris stopped in Sao Paolo, where he met senior staff members of TPG/TNT in Brazil, business unit of the global express, mail and logistics company based in the Netherlands - WFP's first long-term corporate partner.
Morris flew to Brazil from Peru, where he pledged WFP's support for a programme by the Peruvian government and the private sector to combat chronic malnutrition in remote areas in the south of the country- , launched a visibility campaign with Bank Wiese Sudameris, and held talks with leading members of the business community to explore the possibilities of new partnerships.
About WFP Executive Director, James T. Morris
For over 35 years, James T. Morris has combined a distinguished career of business, philanthropic and humanitarian leadership with a personal life of public service. Both his career and his voluntary activities have reflected a commitment to improving the lives of others with a special interest in young people at risk and giving something back to his city, his country and the international community.
After serving six years in city government in Indianapolis, Indiana, primarily as chief of staff for Mayor Richard Lugar, Morris moved to the Lilly Endowment, Inc. in 1973. He began as Director of community development for the Endowment, one of the world's largest charitable foundations. Morris moved to Vice President, Executive Vice President and then President, and served in that role for six years, until 1989.
Morris became WFP Executive Director in April 2002 and the same year was appointed the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy for Southern Africa.
WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency: in 2003 we gave food aid to a record 104 million people in 81 countries, including 56 million hungry children.
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