President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins was awarded the Agricola Medal of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) at a ceremony in Áras an Uachtaráin in Dublin today, Friday, June 7.

President Higgins was presented with the medal by the Director-General of the FAO, Dr. Qu Dongyu.

The medal, which bears the Latin name for farmer, is conferred upon international figures who have undertaken outstanding efforts in advancing the cause of global food security, poverty alleviation, and nutrition. President Higgins is the first Irish recipient of the medal.

It is customary that the recipient of the medal provides their own choice of inscription text for the medal. The President chose for his inscription to read: "Food Security as part of Universal Basic Services and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals – the seeds of world peace."

The vital need for food security, and the importance of moving past reactive emergency responses to tackling the underlying structural causes of hunger, has been a key theme of the President’s work.

The President has written extensively on the topic of food security, including reflecting on the repeated crises that have arisen since he first traveled to Somalia and saw first-hand the devastation of the famine in that country in 1992.

President Higgins was this afternoon awarded with the Agricola Medal of the United Nations @FAO at a ceremony in Áras an Uachtaráin. The President was presented with the medal by the Director-General of the FAO, Dr Qu Dongyu. Read more at

— President of Ireland (@PresidentIRL) June 7, 2024

Speaking at the event on Friday, Director-General Qu said: “With unwavering commitment, strong courage, and the quest for answers, President Higgins has passionately and consistently raised the importance of food security on the global stage.

"He continues to draw the world’s attention to the links between hunger and the global crises of poverty, migration, economic downturns and finance deficits, and the impacts of the climate crisis.

"He has pointed to the need for the urgent transformation of global agrifood systems, towards a model that is informed by science; ensures freedom from hunger; provides healthy and nutritious foods; is sustainable; and in harmony with our planet.

"The awarding of the FAO Agricola Medal to President Higgins reflects this joint conviction of the need to transform our agrifood systems for the Sustainable Development Goals, especially SDG2 and SDG1.

"It is the highest recognition by FAO to a Head of State who has committed his life, his experience, his achievements, his influence and his political will and courage to better global agrifood systems, for a better future - with an active rather than passive approach.

"He has addressed global leaders in a series of speeches which together form a reference on food and agriculture policy, and are an instruction to the world on the need for urgent change.”

In his acceptance address on Friday, President Higgins said in part: "The existential challenges that face us today – be it global hunger, malnutrition and poverty, sustainability, biodiversity loss, and climate change – they all require us, I suggest, to arrive at a new enhanced consciousness, a new point of balance, concord, resonance, an agreement as to managing and sustaining the means to survival itself.

"Such a new consciousness must be one that seeks peace, recognises interdependence, aspires towards making war unnecessary, of global peaceful co-existence.

"How appropriate it is that the word ‘Agricola’ – the award I receive today – is the Latin term for ‘farmer’. It is farmers around the world, custodians of the land, who will be responsible for the delivery of our new model of food production that will ultimately bring about a food-secure existence on this shared, fragile, vulnerable planet. We must work with our diverse groups of farmers in our world in support of this goal, recognising that the production, distribution and consumption of food are inextricably connected and require awareness and change from us all.

"Let us take meaningful steps to enable a fruitful re-engagement with nature using the best of tools available to us, including notably anthropology. Indeed, all of the tools of social science.

"We are challenged to embark on a new beginning, one that is inclusive, life-affirming, and celebratory of diversity, one that can work in a variety of settings, one that adequately responds to climate change and the needs of sustainability, one that offers best prospects for avoiding unnecessary conflict and achieving peace within and between peoples.

"We must endeavour, together, in our diverse world, seek to construct such a co-operative, caring, and non-exploitative global civilisation.

"We have an opportunity to make this century the century in which we rid the planet once and for all of global hunger, one that will see a shared commitment to a global food-secure family, one based on the firm foundations of respect for each nation’s own institutions, traditions, experiences and wisdoms, founded on a recognition of the solidarity that binds us together as humans, and an acknowledgement of the responsibility we share for our vulnerable planet and the fundamental dignity of all those who dwell on it."