World newsprint famine
Words and images printed on paper have been the means by which men and women in all countries have most often and most widely made contact with one another across geographical distance and through historical time.
The wisdom of the ages, and the thoughts and feelings of the human beings who made or preserved it, have come to each new generation largely through books printed on paper. Education has from time immemorial depended on such books-old and new. And in our own era of great development of communication among masses of men, the exchange of factual information through words printed on paper has become a vital element in the mutual understanding among peoples which is the very foundation of peace and progress, as well as of the enrichment of civilization itself.
New means of mass communication have evolved and become enormously important-films, the radio and television. But, with the steady advance of the struggle against illiteracy and with the advance of new forms of education, of the exchange of knowledge and information, books, newspapers and periodical publications have also taken on added importance. And it remains true that more men, women and children in the world depend upon words and images printed on paper for their information and knowledge than on any other means of mass communication.
Hence, the availability of paper - for newspapers, for books, for similar exchanges of facts and ideas - is a matter of deep and immediate concern for practically every person in the world, and certainly for all national groups, for all forms of society. Unfortunately there is a serious lack of balance between the available supply and the growing need for newsprint - the kind of paper used for newspapers. Moreover, there is also a grave discrepancy between the need and the use of newsprint - a lack of harmony in the distribution.
The effect, in technical respect, of the relative shortage and of the inequitable distribution of newsprint is to raise prices, hence to make this basic wherewithal of information even less available in precisely those vast areas of the world which need it most-those areas where the struggle against illiteracy con only go forward with books, and the paper to print those books. And the general effect is to deprive many millions of men and women of the chance to find out what they need to know about the world in which they live.
Lack of the paper to carry the message of information means lack of the awareness, the interest and the sense of participation and personal responsibility that play so large a role in sound citizenship. Limitation of education inevitably penalizes progress; and since it is in the minds of men everywhere that the foundations of peace must be laid, the shortage of newsprint acts as a brake on the co-operation of all peoples toward a just and durable peace.
For the past few years, Unesco has been studying various factors related to the distribution of the world's paper supply. It has assembled the facts on the production and consumption of both newsprint and printing paper and made these facts public. Acting'on a resolution voted by the General Conference of Unesco last year, the Director-General asked the Secretary-General of the United Nations to place the newsprint problem on the agenda of the Economic and Social Council. This was done. In August, 1951, ECOSOC adopted a resolution proposing both short-term and long-term action. It directed an appeal to the main consumers of paper to reduce slightly their consumption, and to producers to expand their production. A recommendation was also made to governments to draw the attention of their nationals to this appeal and to the desirability of voluntary co-operation. The Food and Agriculture Organization was requested to continue its studies and research into forestry resources, so as to indicate measures for increasing production, including the use or substitute raw materials. During the FAO conference in Rome last November and December, a series of decisions was approved to decrease and gradually overcome the present deficit of newsprint and printing paper.
Today, a new kind of hunger is spreading across the globe. For have not books, magazines, newspapers and every category of printed publication been called the chief nourishment for the human mind? The new hunger is robbing millions of men of their mental nourishment. Only planned world action can halt it.