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Director-General  José Graziano da Silva
A statement by FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva
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3 July 2017

40th Session of FAO Conference

Zero Hunger Side Event

Mr. Hugo Roger Martinez Bonilla, Minister for Foreign Affairs, El Salvador

Dr. Liane Thykeo, Minister for Agriculture and Forestry, Lao

Dr. Kaba Urgessa, State Minister for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Ethiopia

Mr. Phil Hogan, EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development

Mr. Gilbert Houngbo, President of IFAD;

Mr. David Beasley, Executive Director of WFP;

Ambassador Amira Gornass, Chair of the CFS;

Honourable Ministers;

Distinguished guests;

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a pleasure and an honor to welcome all of you to this special event on Zero Hunger.

I am particularly glad with the presence of the heads of the other two Rome-based Agencies: Mr. Gilbert Houngbo of IFAD, and Mr. David Beasley of WFP.

This is the first time that the three of us meet at a FAO event.

I am also grateful with the presence of Commissioner Hogan. The European Union has been a great partner of FAO in relation to food security and food safety issues. 

What brings us here today is our most basic and most central common issue.

It is something that is at the very core of our mandates: ending hunger and malnutrition.

As we all know, Zero Hunger has become shorthand for the Sustainable Development Goal number 2.

We should be proud of this.

SDG2 exists thanks to the joint efforts of the RBAs and yours, our Members.

The SDGS are interlinked and interdependent.

But SDGs 1 & 2 are particularly central to achieving the overall agenda.

Many of the Goals, such as health and education, cannot be achieved without Zero Hunger.

But today, more than 800 million people are still chronically undernourished. 

155 million children under five are stunted.

Many others suffer from other forms of malnutrition, such as obesity:

1.9 billion people are overweight, of which 600 million are obese.

And another 2 billion suffer from micronutrient deficiency.

This means that more than half of the world’s population suffers from one or more form of malnutrition.

Moreover, the world is facing nowadays one of the largest humanitarian crises over the latest decades.

There are 20 million people at risk of famine in four countries: North Eastern Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen.

Men, women and children are being left behind, with lasting negative effects for their countries and for the world.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The world has achieved much with the Millennium Development Goals.

Poverty and hunger have been reduced over the last few decades.

However, the numbers remain high in many parts of the world.

Conflict, population growth, climate change and changing dietary patterns pose new challenges.

And this brought us to a new era in international development: the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals.

The MDGs were about reduction: reduction of the numbers, reduction of the prevalence.

But the 2030 Agenda took the ambition to a new level.

A level that we in Rome already knew to be possible and feasible: to completely eliminate hunger and extreme poverty.

We will need scaled up action to eradicate hunger and poverty by 2030.

We have seen it done in various countries.

We know what works, and how it can be adapted to different contexts and national realities.

To succeed we have to optimize the way we work together.

Partnerships are key for coherent, coordinated and scaled-up action.

We are working side by side, the three RBAs and other partners, to build a more prosperous future and a hunger free world.

Last December, the RBAs presented a common vision and guiding principles for enhanced collaboration to deliver on the 2030 Agenda.

Since then, we can already find examples of enhanced collaboration, such as our combined efforts in South Sudan, Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen.


The 2030 Agenda calls for strong commitment to national decision-making and greater self-reliance by Member States.

We are seeing this happen, with regional initiatives and organizations playing a substantial role.

These are key to mobilizing resources and to transforming global Zero Hunger commitments into local action.

Today, we will hear from our panelists about the experiences of countries and regional processes in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, and also Latin America and the Caribbean.

The Malabo Declaration, adopted by African leaders in 2014, provides a comprehensive vision of ending hunger in Africa by 2025.

In 2013, countries in the Asia and Pacific region also reaffirmed their strong commitment to end hunger and malnutrition.

Latin America and the Caribbean was the first region to commit to completely eradicating hunger by 2025.

This has been translated into plans and strategies. And has given the region a head start, with significant reductions in the number of undernourished people.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We must turn political will into concrete action to accelerate and deepen progress on SDG2.

This requires enabling policy and institutional environment:

Firstly, we need to focus more strongly on national strategies, promoting synergies between social protection, sustainable agriculture, nutrition, health and also education policies.

Secondly, we need to enhance governance and coordination mechanisms, to facilitate dialogue and create incentives for different sectors and stakeholders to work together.

Thirdly, we need to sharpen the focus of Zero Hunger Initiatives. For that, decision-makers need solid and relevant evidence, including statistics and monitoring data.

And last but not least, we have to significantly increase investments. 

This will be crucial for effective implementation of the policies and programmes needed to achieve Zero Hunger.

In order to support countries in all four areas, we are expanding our partnerships.

A good example is the new partnership with the European Union.

FAO has reinforced its actions for food security, nutrition and sustainable agriculture at country level, incorporating policy officers in 34 countries through the support of the European Commission initiative called FIRST.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Today is the first, but certainly not the last time you will see the three of us together.

We will continue to take forward this discussion on achieving SDG2 and Zero Hunger.

During the UN General Assembly, in September, in New York, we are planning an RBA event on SDG 2.

And in October, we will celebrate World Food Day together with the G7 Ministers of Agriculture. They will meet in Italy, and will join us at FAO for the celebrations.

We were happy to hear this morning that His Holiness Pope Francis will also be with us at the occasion.

I would like to conclude by thanking all the panelists and speakers, my colleagues here at the podium, and the Ministers and other delegates, for their presence and commitment to achieving Zero Hunger.

The year 2030 is just around the corner.

We can become the Zero Hunger generation.

Thank you very much for your attention.