Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific

Hiroyuki Konuma

FAO Regional Representative for Asia-Pacific

 

Zero Hunger Challenge: from Campaign to Reality

by

Hiroyuki Konuma
Chair of UN Regional Thematic Working Group on Poverty and Hunger
and
Assistant Director-General and
FAO Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific

delivered at the

Regional Coordination Mechanism Working Lunch with
Mr Jan Eliasson
Deputy-Secretary-General of the United Nations

Bangkok, Thailand
30 April 2013

 

On behalf of UN Regional Thematic Working Group on Poverty and Hunger, I wish to welcome Mr. Jan Eliasson, the UN Deputy Secretary-General.

I also wish to express our appreciation to Dr. Noeleen Heyzer, the ESCAP Executive Secretary for providing me an opportunity to present, on behalf of co-chairs UNDP and ESCAP and over 20 member organizations of the Thematic Group, the details of the Zero Hunger Challenge in Asia and the Pacific which has just been launched yesterday at this building.

The world produces more or less sufficient food to meet the needs of everyone. Yet, despite of our efforts, progress in eradicating hunger in general has been slow. At present, the world is still a home of 868 million chronically hunger people. Indeed, one in every eight people on the planet is undernourished and one in every three children in developing world are stunted. Asia region holds the highest number; 62 percent of the total chronically hunger population in the world. There has been a good progress in East Asia and Southeast Asia in past 20 years in general. However, there were a little change in South Asia which holds the highest share of chronically hungry people in the world. There was an increase in hunger population in Sub Sahara Africa which is very alarming.

I now wish to review hunger tends in the developing countries in Asia and the Pacific between 1990 and 2010, and towards 2015. The proportion of chronic hunger in the region in 1990 (the base year of MDG) was 24.7 percent, which was reduced to 14 percent in 2010. Our MDG No.1 hunger target in this region is to halve the proportion of hunger people by 2015 from that of base year (24.7 percent) to 12.4 percent.

At moment, we stand at 14 percent , and this means that we have only 1.6 percent gap towards achieving the MGD hunger goal within the remaining period of less than 1000 days. I think this is attainable if we work together as a team and double our efforts. In this connection I wish to stress the importance and active role of UN Thematic Working Group on Poverty and Hunger under the overall direction of the chair of the Regional Coordination Mechanism ,ESCAP Executive Secretary , which produced a road map towards attaining the MDG No.1 hunger goal and valuable case studies to share knowledge and experiences.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

While prospect towards achieving MDG target appears positive , our concern is not just a short nature towards 2015, but for our future generations. Indeed, the world has to increase food production by 60 percent or by 77 percent if we look at the developing countries alone (where the majority of population growth occur) towards years 2050 to meet the needs of increasing population which would exceed 9 billion at that time.

This has to attain under existing various constraints and challenges, such as the limited potential of expansion of arable land, increasing water scarcity, declining investment for agriculture, stagnation of agricultural productivity growth, negative impact of climate changes and natural disasters, increasing competition between food production and bio-energy production, food price volatilities, high post harvest losses and food waste, and so on. These challenges are co-existed with additional 2 billion people who suffer from micronutrient malnutrition problems especially children, and over 1 billion people, even higher than hunger population, who suffer from obesity and overweight associating to non-communicable diseases such as diabetes.

The Zero Hunger Challenge Campaign in Asia and the Pacific as a part of the global initiative launched by the UN Secretary-General in 2012, therefore focuses on long-term goals to eliminate hunger within our lifetimes, while our load map to attain MDG No.1 hunger target would serve as a short-term strategic action of the Zero Hunger Challenge A-P towards 2015 as a practical step to end to hunger into a reality.

The Zero Hunger Challenge A-P follows the five key targets as defined under the global challenge to scale up the efforts of all stakeholders, which include 100 percent access to adequate food all year round, zero stunted children in less than 2 years old, all food systems are sustainable, 100 percent increase in smallholder productivity and income, and zero loss or waste of food. As a next step, I suggest that we formulate a medium-term strategy and action plan for each of these five targets/pillars to ensure concerted efforts and team work as a concrete step to realize the goals, in parallel to the implementation of the roadmap.

Before concluding, I wish to stress the importance of partnership and team work among all concerned UN agencies, partners and stakeholders, as our tasks in front of us is far beyond just increasing food production, but include access issues and almost all important key development challenges that we are facing. In this connection, I wish to value the joint efforts and leadership of UNDP, ESCAP and FAO in launching the Zero Hunger Challenge A-P under the framework of the Regional UN Thematic Working Group mechanism and wish to thank them for the collaboration. We recently organized ESCAP, UNESCO,FAO joint regional meeting to discuss the nexus on foods security-water-energy with a collaboration with ADB and other UN agencies. Similar efforts are being demonstrated among WFP, UNICEF, WHO and FAO in promoting agriculture, food security and health nexus towards improving nutrition in ASEAN countries. I trust that we can attain the MDG No1 hunger target and eradicate hunger in our lifetimes through further promoting our joint efforts.

Thank you