22 September 2016

With Nearly 800 Million People Still Underfed Worldwide, Secretary-General Urges United Nations Agencies, Governments to Advance ‘Zero Hunger’ Initiative

Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s opening remarks at the high-level side event on pathways to zero hunger, in New York today:

I am pleased to be with you.  I would like to thank Heads of State and Government who have [given] their very valuable time today.

In 2012, I launched the Zero Hunger Challenge at the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro.  I invited world leaders and development partners to share my vision of a world free from hunger and malnutrition within a generation.

I challenged them to build a world where all people enjoy the fundamental right to adequate food; a world where food systems are inclusive, resilient and sustainable.

This vision now lies at the heart the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  It is unacceptable in a world of plenty that nearly 800 million people still suffer from hunger.  This represents a collective moral and political failure.

With the 2030 Agenda we have the opportunity to silence once and for all the deafening cry of hunger and malnutrition that has echoed down through history.  The pledge of the Sustainable Development Goals is to leave no one behind:  the hungry; the children whose future depends on safe and nutritious food for their bodies and brains to develop; the small family farmers forced to migrate from impoverished lands.

Our goal is to transform agriculture and food systems to drive rural prosperity and end poverty; to put agriculture at the heart of the solution to climate change; to build peaceful societies through food security.  By tackling the root causes of hunger and malnutrition, we can support all the SDGs.

I have seen real progress in the past four years.  The global population of undernourished people has fallen by nearly 70 million since 2012.  Tackling the problem of food waste has become a global cause.  Sustainable agriculture and food systems are at the heart of the Paris Agreement.  And Member States have now committed to Zero Hunger as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  Many have responded to the Zero Hunger Challenge.

I thank you all for your commitment.  The Zero Hunger Challenge will continue to offer a space for diverse partners to come together behind a common objective.

As I end my term in office, I am asking the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), World Food Programme (WFP) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) to take my Challenge forward.  I am confident that they will not rest until zero hunger is a reality.  Together, we can meet the challenge of securing a future of health, prosperity, dignity and opportunity for all on a healthy planet.  Thank you for your commitment.

For information media. Not an official record.