Africa: FAO Director-General Welcomes UN Secretary General's Zero Hunger Challenge

press release

Rio De Janeiro — FAO Director General José Graziano da Silva today warmly welcomed the "Zero Hunger Challenge" announced by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

"Big problems call for bold goals. The Zero Hunger Challenge can help us mobilize political commitment, the first step to eradicate hunger," Graziano da Silva said at a high-level meeting in Rio de Janeiro.

"This is a personal challenge from the Secretary-General, but one that all of us should answer, as individuals and collectively. FAO embraces this challenge of a Zero Hunger World."

Graziano da Silva noted that the Secretary-General's objectives fully coincided with those of FAO and its partners, including boosting smallholder farmers' productivity, establishing sustainable food systems and cutting food waste.

The UN Secretary-General set out his Zero Hunger vision at an event organized by Bioversity International, FAO, IFAD, the World Bank and WFP during the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development. Other speakers at the event included Niger President Mahamadou Issoufou, British Deputy Prime Minister Nicholas Clegg, WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin and Biodiversity Director General Emile Frison. Representatives of farmers' organizations, the private sector and other governments and agencies also took part.

"I am not proposing a new goal. I am sharing my vision for the future. A future where all people enjoy their fundamental Right to Food; where people's livelihoods and food systems are resilient and able to withstand a changing climate," said Ban Ki-moon.

Growth, poverty reduction

Noting that zero hunger would boost economic growth, reduce poverty and safeguard the environment, as well as foster peace and stability, Ban listed five objectives under his challenge:

1. 100% access to adequate food all year round.

2. Zero stunted children under 2 years, no more malnutrition in pregnancy and early childhood.

3. All food systems are sustainable.

4. 100% growth in smallholder productivity and income, particularly for women.

5. Zero loss or waste of food, including responsible consumption.

"Many leaders attending this conference have pledged to work for an end to hunger. I know they will respond to my Zero Hunger Challenge," added the Secretary-General.

Pope's commitment

Last week in Rome Pope Benedict XVI underscored his support to the fight against hunger when he received Graziano da Silva.

In launching his Zero Hunger Challenge in Brazil, Ban Ki-moon recognized the inspiration provided by the country's national Zero Hunger campaign and acknowledged the role played by FAO's Director-General in designing and implementing that hunger-defeating strategy.

Between 2003 and 2010, Brazil's Fome Zero programme helped lift 28 million people out of extreme poverty. It also inspired a new set of public policies aimed at promoting economic and social development in the country.

"With almost 900 million hungry, no half-measures can be accepted," Graziano da Silva added. "With hunger, the only acceptable number is zero."

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