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1974 World Food Conference
1974 World Food Conference
Thursday 15 October 2020

Topics: Digital Collections

In the early 1970s, as the world faced a severe food crisis, the UN General Assembly, pursuant to recommendations by the 17th Conference of the Food and Agriculture Organization, decided to convene a World Food Conference by adopting resolution 3180(XXVIII) on 17 December 1973.

The World Food Conference was held in Rome from 5 to 16 November 1974 and attended by representatives of 133 states, 15 Agencies, Funds and Programmes, six national liberation movements, 26 intergovernmental organizations, and observers from 161 international and national non-governmental organizations. The Conference recognized that the persistent problem of famine and hunger had reached an unprecedented scale and urgency, and that it could only be dealt with by concerted world-wide action.

The Conference had an ambitious agenda and the documents of the conference provide an in-depth view into the world food situation at the time. The summaries of meetings and draft resolutions show the passion brought to the table by the conference participants and the strong desire of the global community to end hunger.

The Conference adopted the "Universal Declaration on the Eradication of Hunger and Malnutrition" (included in the Conference Report), which stressed that “[e]very man, woman and child has the inalienable right to be free from hunger and malnutrition in order to develop fully and maintain their physical and mental faculties”.  The declaration concluded with an urgent call to action that still rings true today in light of increased food insecurity brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic: “Time is short. Urgent and sustained action is vital. The Conference, therefore, calls upon all peoples expressing their will as individuals, and through their Governments, and non-governmental organizations, to work together to bring about the end of the age-old scourge of hunger.”

The Dag Hammarskjöld Library has now digitized the complete documentation of the Conference, which can be accessed online in the UN Digital Library. This collection of 156 documents includes, among others, the conference report, NGO statements, draft resolutions and reports.

For more information about the 1974 World Food Conference, please consult the UN Yearbook, 1974, Chapter XII: Questions relating to Food Problems.

UN Conference on New Sources of Energy
UN Conference on New Sources of Energy
Monday 9 December 2019

Topics: Digital Collections

Did you know that, long before the adoption of the 2030 Agenda which set ensuring access to affordable, sustainable and modern energy for all as one of its 17 sustainable development goals (SDG 7), the United Nations had already started exploring new sources of energy for sustainable development?

The United Nations Conference on New Sources of Energy, held from 21 to 31 August 1961 in Rome, Italy, discussed the applications of geothermal, wind and solar energy, as well as the means by which sustainable energy could be brought into wider use, particularly for the benefit of less developed countries.

According to the Conference report, geothermal energy drove electricity generating plants with a capacity of nearly 400,000 kilowatts, about three-fourths of it in Italy and the remaining capacity in New Zealand, the United States, Mexico and elsewhere. Geothermal energy also heated homes in Iceland, hatched chickens in Kenya and produced salt and chemical by-products. The conference recommended further exploration of geothermal resources to increase its use.

Wind power development ranged from small windmills for water pumping and electricity generation to large turbines for supplying power in remote communities and connection to major power networks. Many technical advances were presented at the Conference, such as using fiber glass-reinforced plastics and designing wind power installations according to aerodynamic principles.

Discussions around solar energy took a major part at the Conference. Topics ranged from new materials for solar energy generation to water heating, solar drying, solar cooking and solar refrigeration. It was concluded that further research was needed to substantially reduce the cost of storage of heat and power from solar and wind energy.

The Dag Hammarskjöld Library has now digitized the complete documentation of the Conference, including 250 technical papers, which can be accessed online in the UN Digital Library. The report of the Conference is contained in document E/3577/Rev.1.

Find out more on this topic in our related research guides on climate change and development.

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