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16 June 2014

149th Session of the FAO Council

Special Event
"Recognizing outstanding progress in fighting hunger”

Opening Statement


Your Excellency Carlos Furche, Minister of Agriculture of Chile,

Your Excellency Aziz Akhannouch, Minister of Agriculture and Marine Fisheries of the Kingdom of Morocco,

Your Excellency Chen Xiaohua, Vice Minister of Agriculture of the People’s Republic of China

Your Excellencies,

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a pleasure to welcome you to this ceremony.

In 1996, the leaders of 180 nations gathered at FAO Headquarters for the World Food Summit.

They pledged to eradicate hunger and agreed on a global target of halving the absolute number of hungry people by half between 1990 and 2015.

Four years later in 2000, the international community met at the United Nations General Assembly in New York and later agreed to the eight Millennium Development Goals.

The first MDG aims at eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, and its hunger target is to halve the proportion of undernourished people, not the absolute number.

One year ago we celebrated the first 38 countries that had achieved the MDG target, three years in advance of the 2015 deadline. Eighteen of them had also met the World Food Summit target, to halve the absolute number, which is the most difficult challenge.

Now we come together to recognize three more countries for their efforts: Chile, China and Morocco.

Last year, we awarded Chile for reaching the MDG-One hunger target. Today, we celebrate Chile for achieving also the more ambitious World Food Summit target.

We also recognize two more countries for meeting the MDG-One hunger target: China and Morocco.

At the same time that we recognize Chile, China and Morocco, it is also important to recall that 16 developing countries already had a proportion of undernourishment below 5 percent in 1990 and have maintained it since then.

Their efforts deserve to be mentioned and I would like to do it now. The countries are: Argentina, Barbados, the Dominican Republic, Brunei Darussalam, Egypt, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mexico, the Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Tunisia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Let me highlight that we should not forget that the glass is half full, but also half empty. We have to move forward, going beyond halving hunger and eradicate it.

Throughout the world we are seeing political commitment of governments being transformed into effective action and concrete results in the fight against hunger.

These are efforts that are supported by non-state actors and civil society as a whole and by the international community. They show that food security for all can be a reality in our lifetime.

I also want to acknowledge the strong regional commitments to support and stimulate national efforts to end hunger: the 2025 Latin America and the Caribbean Hunger-Free Initiative, the African Union that in two weeks is set to endorse their own 2025 zero hunger target, and the Asia-Pacific region that has embraced the Zero Hunger Challenge, launched by the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

 FAO is proud to be part of these efforts and to work with all its Members, developed and developing countries, to reach our common vision of a hunger-free and sustainable world.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We have made progress in the war against hunger, but we still have a lot to do. Even today, in a world of abundant food, over 840 million people are still undernourished.

Ensuring their food security and helping them overcome extreme poverty are the first steps to build the inclusive future we want, in which nobody is left behind.

I ask all FAO Member States that have managed to achieve the goal of halving hunger to share their experiences with those still on the way.

And I ask all countries that have still to meet the target to redouble their efforts.

This final push can help more nations reach the MDG and World Food Summit hunger targets. We have less than 600 days left.

This effort will also help us build momentum as we set our new sustainable development goals for the post-2015 agenda.

We all agree that there is no acceptable number of hungry people other than zero.

Let us work together so that we can celebrate further successes towards our goal of eradicating hunger.

Thank you all for your attention.