Rio+20: Secretary-General challenges nations to achieve ‘zero hunger’

Photo: IRIN/Siegfried Modola

22 June 2012 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has launched a ‘Zero Hunger Challenge’ which invites all countries to work for a future where every individual has adequate nutrition and where all food systems are resilient.

“In a world of plenty, no one – not a single person – should go hungry,” Mr. Ban said during the launch of the initiative at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Thursday night. “I invite all of you to join me in working for a future without hunger.”

“Zero hunger would boost economic growth, reduce poverty and safeguard the environment. It would foster peace and stability,” Mr. Ban added, calling on farmers, business people, scientists, civil society and consumers to join the challenge by honouring past promises and work together to put an end to hunger.

The ‘Zero Hunger Challenge’ has five main objectives: to achieve 100 per cent access to adequate food all year round; to end malnutrition in pregnancy and early childhood; to make all food systems sustainable; to increase growth in the productivity and income of smallholders, particularly women; and to achieve a zero rate of food waste.

Inspiration for the initiative came from work being carried out by many countries and organizations to end hunger, including Brazil.

The ‘Zero Hunger Challenge’ is supported by UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), World Food Programme (WFP), UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Bank and Bioversity International.

“Big problems call for bold goals. The Zero Hunger Challenge can help us mobilize political commitment, the first step to eradicate hunger,” said FAO’s Director-General, José Graziano da Silva, said at a high-level meeting in Rio de Janeiro today. “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.

More than 40,000 people – including heads of State and government, parliamentarians, mayors, UN officials, business and civil society leaders – are attending Rio+20, which ends on Friday. It seeks to shape new policies to promote global prosperity, reduce poverty and advance social equity and environmental protection.


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