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12 March 2014


The Zero Hunger Challenge in Asia and the Pacific
Side Event of the 32nd Session of the
FAO Regional Conference for Asia and the Pacific 


Your Excellency Mr. Marcos da Cruz, Vice Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries of Timor-Leste,

Your Excellencies,

Ladies and gentlemen, 

I am greatly honored to address you at this special side event on the Zero Hunger Challenge in Asia and the Pacific.

As you know very well, Asia-Pacific is the most populated region in the world and is the home of nearly two-thirds of the world’s chronically hungry people.

As a result of your efforts to promote food security, your region is expected to achieve the Millennium Development Goal hunger target of halving the proportion of undernourished people by 2015.

Allow me to point out the remarkable results we have achieved in some countries: Thailand and Viet Nam have reduced the proportion of hungry people in their countries by over 80 percent.

And China has reached the MDG hunger target and lifted over 114 million people out of hunger since 1990-92, according to FAO’s latest figures???.

For Asia as a whole, the proportion of hunger has fallen from 24.1 percent in 1990-92 to 13.5 percent in 2011-13.

The MDG hunger target has already been achieved in the Caucasus and Central Asia, Eastern Asia and South-eastern Asia.

Southern Asia and the Pacific Islands have also made progress, but at a slower rate.

The results are encouraging. However, until the remaining 12 percent of the population are able to free themselves from hunger, we cannot rest. And our goal for sustainable development will not be achieved until we reach the Zero Hunger goal.

We must not tolerate a situation in which a single man, woman or child is still condemned to suffer hunger in this prosperous region where there is enough food for all and the means exist to put an end to hunger.

Our goal in Asia and the Pacific, and in the world, must be zero hunger. That is our vision. And the only level of hunger we should accept is zero.

As you know, the Zero Hunger vision was presented by UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon at the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development in Brazil in June 2012.

At that meeting, I echoed his vision of a future where all people enjoy their fundamental right to food and where their livelihoods and food systems are resilient and able to withstand a changing climate.

In April 2013, the High-level Consultation on Hunger, Food Security and Nutrition was held in Madrid. It adopted a vision that hunger can be eradicated sustainably by 2025, and that ending hunger and malnutrition must be definitive and irreversible, based on the right of everyone to safe, sufficient, nutritious and affordable food.

The vision of a zero hunger world is ambitious, but within our reach.

We are the first generation in history that can end hunger. We cannot let this opportunity slip through our fingers.

Indeed, many countries, including some in this Region, are showing that it is possible to make very rapid progress in reducing hunger and other forms of malnutrition.

Inspired by these examples, the governments of all the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean have committed themselves to eradicate hunger by 2025.

And just over a month ago, at the African Union, African leaders endorsed a proposal for a 2025 Zero Hunger target.

Within Asia and the Pacific, many countries have in the last few years taken bold steps towards the eradication of hunger and malnutrition and have put in place programs that will yield important results within the near future.

I congratulate Timor-Leste as the first nation in the Region to formally accept the Zero Hunger Challenge.

Following the launch of the National Zero Hunger Challenge in early January this year, a National Action Plan is now being prepared through multi-stakeholder consultations under the leadership of the Prime Minister.

I want to assure the Government of Timor-Leste of FAO’s full support to the national implementation of the Zero Hunger Challenge.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am convinced that when we achieve food security for all, progress will follow naturally and sustainably on other development fronts such as health, education, employment, gender, and the environment.

In short, ending hunger is the stepping stone to building the sustainable world we want. Not by chance is hunger eradication is part of the first Millennium Development Goal.

I therefore invite all countries in the Asia-Pacific region to take on board the Zero Hunger Challenge, engaging in a massive effort to take the steps that will bring a lasting end to hunger by 2025.

And I also invite each country of the region, according to its comparative advantages, to extend a helping hand to the other countries that rise to the challenge. And here, I am referring not just to financial and technical cooperation but also to the realigning of policies to create a supportive environment for the attainment of the 5 goals.

We can achieve these goals within our lifetimes, if we all work together.

I can assure you that FAO will do all in its power to support your efforts.

Thank you for your attention.