Remarks by Ambassador David Lane for the 4th of July, 2014

Buona Sera!  Honored Guests, Fellow Ambassadors and Permanent Representatives, Friends and Colleagues – Good Evening.

On the Fourth of July each year, Americans gather with family and friends to commemorate the anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.  On behalf of our team at the U.S. Mission to the UN Agencies I would like to welcome and thank you for joining us to help celebrate of our Nation’s 238th birthday.

Please join me in applauding Desiree Kedjour for the beautiful rendition of our National Anthem, and the Marine Corps Color Guard for their participation in the ceremony.

The ideals that we celebrate today—the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness—are not unique to Americans.  They are embodied in the constitutions of many nations, and observed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  Yet injustices, hunger, and poverty continue to rob citizens in much of the world of the opportunity to reach their full potential.

842 million people, one out of every eight people in the world, do not have enough to eat, and the population is predicted to grow from 7 billion currently to 9 billion by 2050.  Not only will we have to feed more people, but we must find a way to do it with less land and fewer inputs while increasing nutrition.

It is an enormous challenge, but we can do it.  41 countries have already met or exceeded targets to halve the absolute number of hungry people and I am hopeful that working together we can help others meet this target by 2015.

In 1794, our first president George Washington wrote, “I know of no pursuit in which more real and important services can be rendered to any country than by improving its agriculture.”  His words still ring true today.

But putting food on the table is only part of the challenge.  To truly eliminate extreme poverty, we need sustainable growth, broad-based and climate-friendly development, the full inclusion of women and girls in all areas of society, and adherence to the rule of law and principles of good governance.

My colleagues and I are privileged to represent the United States and its ideals as we collaborate with you and the rest of the Rome-based international community to achieve these goals and build stronger, more resilient communities. We look forward to continued cooperation on the Post 2015 Sustainable Development Goals and building on the progress that has been made in the past decade.

I want to recognize the staff of US Mission Rome and of the U.S. Embassy’s General Services Office for their hard work in achieving our vision and making this party a success.  And I’d like to single out Ann Wise who was our primary coordinator for tonight’s celebration, and Ian McDonald, the chef at Villa San Sebastiano.

You may have noticed that we’ve made a few changes to our celebration as part of our own effort to operate in a more sustainable way.  While we can’t have a fourth of July celebration without the traditional hamburgers and hotdogs, we have also added a few new flavors.

The delicious fish and seafood salads you will find upstairs have been provided by a local company, which is a living example of how to financially succeed while working within the sustainable small-scale fisheries guidelines we endorsed recently through the FAO Fisheries Committee.

And please check out our edible insects table.  Inspired by the potential role of insects in improving global food security, we have added a few to our picnic menu.  The nutritious snacks are tasty—I promise I have tested them—but also represent the work that the United States government and the Rome Based UN Agencies are doing to identify nutritious food sources, minimize food waste, and create a more prosperous future for the world.

And finally, please help us decrease the waste we produce by putting your dishes and leftover food into the appropriate recycling bins.

I am honored that so many friends from so many countries have joined the Americans this evening, and I want to take the opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to working with all of you to build a better world especially for the world’s poor and hungry.

And so, please raise your glasses and join me in a toast to the 238th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America, and also to our common journey to help the poor and the hungry lift themselves up so they can live lives of freedom and dignity.