Ban Ki-moon's speeches

Remarks at World Food Day Commemoration

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, UN Headquarters, 27 October 2011

H.E Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, President of the General Assembly,
H.E Mr. Lazarous Kapambwe, President of the Economic and Social Council,
Mr. Jacques Diouf, Director-General of FAO,
Mr. Kanayo F. Nwanze, President of IFAD,
Ms. Josette Sheeran, Executive Director of WFP,
Ms. Barbara Stocking, Chief Executive of OXFAM,
Ms. Dee Dee Bridgewater, FAO Goodwill Ambassador,
Ladies and gentlemen,

This year's observance of World Food Day falls at a time when the Horn of Africa is living through its worst drought in 60 years.

The worst effects have been limited to areas in southern Somalia that lie outside the reach of most emergency relief.

Elsewhere, the situation is still critical.

Land, livestock, food and seeds have been badly depleted.

The most dangerous stretch may still lie ahead.

But this is unlike previous catastrophic droughts when famine stalked the entire region.

The affected governments, with support from development partners, have worked hard to build resilience.

Their efforts have saved lives.

They have helped local communities to meet many of their own needs.

This crisis has shown that measures to guarantee food security work.

They reduce human suffering and the cost of emergency interventions.

They can help communities to withstand future climate- and conflict-related shocks.

They point the way toward long-term solutions.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The hunger in the Horn of Africa is but a fraction of a needless global menace.

There is more than enough food on the planet to feed everyone.

Yet, almost one billion people are hungry.

This year's World Food Day highlights the issue of high and volatile food prices.

When food prices surge, poor families suddenly find themselves unable to afford enough nutritious food.

If this happens during the first thousand days of a child's life, the damage to his or her body and mind can be permanent.

When food prices rise, families send their children to work instead of school, they sell their hard-earned assets or livestock ... or they go into debt.

Recovery can take years. In some cases, the losses are passed from one generation to the next.

This week the human family will welcome its seven billionth member.

By 2050, we will number nine billion.

To keep pace, food production will need to double.

The wild price swings of recent years, together with the expected impacts of climate change, will make this extremely challenging.

Farmers could well find it too risky to invest in producing more, better quality food.

Guaranteeing sustainable food and nutrition security for all will require the full engagement of many sectors and actors.

It means pursuing comprehensive approaches ... assisting the most vulnerable ... listening to rural women ... empowering small producers.

It means policies like those advocated by the Scale Up Nutrition movement.

It means strong political commitment ... predictable finance ... and a focus on results.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We should all be encouraged by the renewed political interest in food security, including the prominence that it was given by the G20 this year.

Let us endeavour to build on this momentum – especially as we look forward to the crucially important Rio+20 conference on sustainable development.

We have the resources and the knowledge to end hunger.

We know how to protect the poorest from the impact of rising prices.

We know how to tame volatile prices.

Every child, woman and man has a right to enough nutritious food for an active and healthy life.

Let us act – now.