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FAO’s José Graziano da Silva at CELAC-EU Summit: "No sustainable development while there is hunger"

The 26-28 January summit brings together 60 countries of Latin America and the Caribbean and the EU

Photo: ©FAO/Giulio Napolitano
FAO Director-General, José Graziano da Silva.

26 January 2013, Santiago de Chile - "There can be no sustainable development in the world while millions of people go hungry," FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva said today, referring to the central theme being discussed here by presidents and heads of state of Latin America and the Caribbean and the European Union, at the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States-EU Summit.

"The countries gathered here have the opportunity to give a clear signal of support for this message and propose joint approaches towards a future that is environmentally sustainable, and socially and economically more just, which is what we all want," the Director-General said.

About 60 countries are taking part in the summit. This important meeting seeks to advance relations between the countries involved and build strategic partnerships for sustainable development.

Food security is a priority item on the official agenda of the CELAC Summit and in recent years has been a constant concern in the regional and global agendas. Graziano da Silva recalled the statement made by the presidents of Mercosur in December 2012, which explicitly supported the Zero Hunger Challenge of the UN, launched by the Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon at the Rio + 20 Conference, recognizing that food security is a human right that should be guaranteed to all.

"Poverty and hunger suffered by one country affects its neighbours, as it interferes with the development of the region as a whole. It is a challenge that transcends borders and must be addressed at the highest level, as is occurring during the CELAC, "said Graziano.

"Latin America and the Caribbean have understood this and this was the first region to take on the challenge of fully eradicating hunger and not only diminishing it, by launching the Hunger Free Latin America and the Caribbean Initiative in 2005", he added.

Graziano da Silva highlighted the many initiatives that have emerged in the region, such as Hunger Zero in Brazil and the Crusade Against Hunger in Mexico - launched this week - which will help more than 7.4 million Mexicans living in extreme poverty and food insecurity.

"When a country decides to say 'no more hunger', the improvements that can be achieved are surprising," said the FAO Director General.

Graziano also highlighted the fact that Antigua and Barbuda has joined the UN Zero Hunger Challenge: Zero Hunger in Antigua and Barbuda has the full support of the FAO, and other agencies such as the World Food Programme (WFP), the World Bank, the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA),  the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO), and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), as well as the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM).

Latin America on the front line  against hunger

Latin America and the Caribbean has become a benchmark in the global fight against hunger. In the last 20 years, 16 million people have ceased to suffer hunger in the region.

 In 1990-1992 hunger affected 14.6 percent of the population, or 65 million people, while in 2010-2012, it affected only 8.3 percent, or 49 million people. Add to this significant legislative advances: currently seven countries in the region already have food security laws, while another ten are developing legislation on the matter.

Hunger in the region is fundamentally a problem of access to food and not of food availability, Graziano said: "Latin America and the Caribbean, with a population of 600 million people, produces enough food to feed 750 million people. However, 49 million of the current population still suffer hunger," he said.

The Hunger Free Latin America and the Caribbean 2025 Initiative has provided strong support to this process by promoting the fight against hunger and the realization of the right to food, with action such as the creation of Parliamentary Fronts Against Hunger, which already exist in 14 countries

Tackling food waste

"A sustainable world requires not only that production be sustainable, but also consumption," said the Director General of the FAO.

Graziano da Silva said that globally, a third of all food produced is wasted, and he stressed that if one could avoid this waste "it would be possible to feed all the hungry people and have food to spare."

In Latin America and the Caribbean, losses and waste of food for retail during the production phase reach 200 kg per capita per year. At the consumer level, 25 kilos per capita per year are wasted. In cereal production, losses reach 30 percent of the grains produced, 40 percent of roots and tubers, 55 percent of fruits and vegetables, 20 percent of meat, almost 30 percent of fish and seafood, and more than 20 percent of dairy products.