Italian President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi was today presented with the top award of the United Nations Food and Agricultural Agency (FAO) in recognition of his strong support for the fight against world hunger and poverty.
At a ceremony at the Quirinale Palace in Rome, FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf presented President Ciampi with the Agricola Medal, which "honours distinguished personalities for their commitment to and support for the promotion of sustainable food production, improved world food security and stronger international cooperation."
The medal was awarded the medal as a token of FAO's "esteem and respect for President Ciampi's untiring efforts to promote a more effective and efficient global commitment against hunger and poverty," the citation said.
"President Ciampi," it continued, "has seized every opportunity to call for increased national and international investment flows to the agricultural sector and for the full cancellation of the debt of the poorest countries and easier access of their products to the markets of the industrialized countries."
It also said that President Ciampi had appealed to leaders of developing countries to strengthen their commitment to peace, good governance, human rights and basic freedoms, noting that internal and external conflicts only served to further violence and to undermine the stability necessary to social and economic development.
World leaders who have previously received the Agricola Medal include: King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand, President Jacques Chirac of France, President Jiang Zemin of China, Pope John Paul II, President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, Spanish Prime Minister José María Aznar, and President Johannes Rau of Germany.