I am pleased to send greetings to this gathering for Presidents United to Solve Hunger.
You come together across state and national lines; across academic and research fields; across sectors and interests – some of you maybe even come together across sporting rivalries.
You come together to make a commitment to food and nutrition security, declaring that when it comes to hunger, the only acceptable number is zero.
And you come together, not just to call for change, but to make a change. Whether you are here as a university president or a research leader; as a student, faculty or staff member; from government, civil society, or elsewhere, you are pledging to push yourselves and others into action against hunger.
Since the launch of my Zero Hunger Challenge in 2012, there has been renewed political commitment from governments around the world. Sixty three countries have now reached the Millennium Development Goal of halving the proportion of hungry people by 2015. I particularly commend civil society organizations and the private sector for their part in this.
But we still have much to do. Worldwide, 805 million people do not have enough food. One-third of food produced is lost before it reaches our tables. Political conflicts, economic crises and the impact of climate change threaten to reverse much of the progress we’ve made.
We need new ideas and new ways of working, if we are to eradicate hunger in our lifetimes. We need the intellectual exploration and research expertise of universities and other academic institutions if we are to come up with bold new thinking.
We look to you to push your schools to be the catalysts for curious minds focused on this challenge. Your institutions are a launching pad not only for the young people you teach, but for new ideas and new partnerships. Your research makes a difference.
I wish you well as you engage in this important work.