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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)

21 June 2012


Remarks at the launch of the Zero Hunger Challenge

I am here today to tell you why the Zero Hunger Challenge is so critical to sustainable development.

I know that many of you are already focusing on ways to end hunger. Our challenge is to work better together to realize this vision.

Sustainable development is simply not possible in a world where nearly one billion people are hungry every day. Ending hunger is not only vital for our peace and security … it is essential for our collective future.

Our host country – Brazil – is an inspiration. Brazil’s “Fome” programme is proof that societies can beat back hunger using local food from family farmers and community kitchens. It works thanks to a powerful combination of civil society action and strong political leadership.

I am very proud that one of the leaders of that effort - José Graziano da Silva – is now Director-General of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.

I also applaud the combined efforts of FAO, the World Food Programme, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, UNICEF, research organization Bioversity International and the World Bank.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We cannot rest while so many people are hungry in a world where there is enough food for all.

We are here because we know this has to change. That is why we are launching the Zero Hunger Challenge. It has five objectives.

First, make sure that everyone in our world has access to enough nutritious food all year long. They should be able to buy it, grow it, or get it through a safety net.

Second, end childhood stunting. It affects almost 200 million children today, with a profoundly negative impact on future generations. Proper nutrition between the beginning of pregnancy and a child’s second birthday is the foundation for an entire life.

Third, build sustainable food systems. Whether our focus is business, the environment, farming or health, we must agree on how all can be nourished in a way that also nurtures our planet.

Fourth, double smallholder farmers’ productivity and income while creating decent employment. These farmers, especially women, produce most of the world’s food. Improvements in their wellbeing create employment, cut poverty, increase the food supply, and stabilize prices for everyone.

Fifth, prevent food from being lost or wasted. As much as one third of all food gets lost between harvesting and consumption. That is just too much. We must reduce these tragic losses. We must also produce and consume food responsibly, mindful of the environment and of our long-term health.

In Korean, we have a saying that, “Each grain of rice represents a drop of the farmer’s sweat.” I am sure that many languages pay similar tribute to the value of even the smallest morsel of food and the effort that goes into producing it. When food is lost or wasted, we also waste water, soil, energy and effort.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

With this drive to defeat global hunger, we are not proposing a new goal. We are sharing a 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.

Iam counting on all partners to come together and make this happen. Governments, farmers, scientists, activists, businesses and consumers all have to be part of this effort.

Many leaders attending this conference have pledged to work for an end to hunger. I know they will respond to the Zero Hunger Challenge. Together we can end hunger in our lifetime.

Thank you.