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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon


Secretary-General's remarks at presentation of ECLAC-WFP Study

Panama, 3 June 2007

Mr. Arosemena [Executive Director, City of Knowledge], Mr. Machinea [Executive Secretary, ECLAC], Dear friends and colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am delighted to be here today. This is my first trip to Panama as Secretary-General of the United Nations, and the warmth of your welcome has already overwhelmed me. Of course, I am especially moved by the opportunity to participate in the presentation of this new report on child under-nutrition in Central America and the Dominican Republic.

Child hunger is a moral issue. But as this study demonstrates, it is also a critical economic concern. These findings amount to nothing short of a call to action. I hope that governments, national leaders and all interested parties will heed its warning, and push forcefully for increased and sustained allocations to fight hunger and undernutrition. As they do so, I will also urge the international community to step up and do its part as well.

For the United Nations, this study is significant in other aspects as well. It represents a joint effort by the World Food Programme and the Economic Commission of Latin American and the Caribbean. This is the exact type of collaboration our new Regional Hub in Ciudad del Saber is designed to promote.

In the five years since the first regional office of the UN system opened in Panama, this city has attracted the entire spectrum of UN agencies, from the United Nations Development Programme and the World Food Programme to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the Office of the High Commission for Human Rights and UNICEF.

Our blossoming presence is helping us become better and more effective partners of the people and Government of Panama. It is also bolstering our own system-wide coherence in the Latin American and Caribbean region.

That is why all of us at the United Nations look forward to working ever more closely with regional Governments in new and innovative ways. Together, we can fight hunger, end extreme poverty, and make a better world for all our children.

Muchas gracias. Thank you very much.

Off-the-Cuff on 3 June 2007