Davos, Switzerland

23 January 2014

Secretary-General's Remarks at World Economic Forum World Food Programme Dinner [as prepared for delivery]

Tonight we are here to make a commitment to achieving zero hunger.

You might wonder if that is too ambitious.

But I have seen such progress with my own eyes, in my own country, in my own lifetime.

And we have evidence of success in many other places. The number of hungry people in China has dropped by 114 million since 1990. Ten million Brazilians are no longer hungry. And more than 30 other countries have already met or exceeded the Millennium Development Goal to halve the proportion of their populations who are hungry.

This success has been achieved through political will, concerted action and private sector engagement.

Each country has chosen their own path, but they all made ending hunger a political priority.

It has been a joint effort – involving governments, farmers, civil society, academia and the private sector. From small-scale farmers who trade their surplus at the village market to billion-dollar multinational corporations, business has played a vital role. This is needed now more than ever.

Tonight, we honour three WFP Hunger Heroes who have dedicated much of their lives to ending hunger:

Mr Sam Dryden, has championed the Gates Foundation’s massive contributions to increase agricultural production and reduce malnutrition.

As Director of the International Food Policy Research Institute, Dr Shenggen Fan, and Mr Marc Van Ameringen have been true champions of the hungry and malnourished.

But with one in eight people still hungry, we are far from a world where everyone enjoys their right to food. One hundred and sixty five million children may miss their true potential because chronic malnutrition has stunted their growth. One third of all food produced is never eaten – the amount we lose or throw away would be enough to feed every person in sub-Saharan Africa. This is a disgrace.

Climate and economic shocks have become the norm. That makes the global approach to eradicating hunger all the more important. It cannot be at the expense of the environment. It cannot exacerbate inequalities – of income, gender or between rural and urban areas. And our approach must be accountable to all those involved – particularly hungry individuals.

This is why my Zero Hunger Challenge focuses on eliminating hunger through sustainable agriculture and food systems. I am giving priority to Climate Smart Agriculture and Food Security at the summit on climate change I will host in September this year in New York.

And so, I invite you to join me in signing the Zero Hunger Declaration. By doing so, you pledge to take action – within your sphere of influence – to eliminate hunger within our lifetime through sustainable, climate-smart food systems.

I will be the first to take up this challenge by pledging that:

I am actively working to eradicate hunger.
I align myself with all elements of the Zero Hunger Challenge.
I encourage others to join in my activities and to take the Challenge.
I advocate for actions and policies that achieve Zero Hunger.
I will hold myself accountable to deliver on my promise.

Thank you.