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National action against hunger crucial in post-2015 world

Despite progress on MDGs, war against hunger far from over, FAO chief tells high-level conference

Photo: ©FAO
Director-General José Graziano da Silva
Madrid, 4 April 2013 - National leadership and action are crucial and governments have the primary responsibility for assuring the food security of their citizens, FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva today told a high-level meeting on the UN's vision for a post-2015 strategy against world hunger. The UN's Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) deadline will pass in 2015.

"The Millenium Development Goals have pushed us forward. But with 870 million people still suffering from hunger, the war against food insecurity is far from over," Graziano da Silva said.

"The only effective answer to food insecurity is political commitment at the national level, and reinforced at the regional and global levels by the international community of donors and international organizations," he said, adding that the world's attitude toward hunger has changed profoundly.

"The right to food in the context of national food security is now the agreed foundation for policy discussion worldwide," he said.

Rural development needed

The Director-General said that since the world produces enough food to feed everyone, emphasis needs to be placed on access to food and to adequate nutrition at the local level. "We need food systems to be more efficient and equitable," he said.

He said that such progress will require significant public and private investment in rural areas where over 70 percent of the hungry live and where millions of people depend on agriculture for food and employment including 500 million smallholder farm families.

However, he warned that despite the primary responsibility of national governments to ensure their citizens are fed, today's globalized economy means that no country acts alone.

"Actions taken by one country or company may affect the food security of others [while] conflicts can lead to instability in neighboring countries and regions," he said.

"Impacts on environmental and natural resources are not purely national and it is virtually impossible to regulate markets and activities at the national level alone."

As examples of multilateral efforts that contribute to national efforts to reduce hunger and make development more sustainable, he cited the strengthening of the Committee on World Food Security and the United Nations Secretary-General's High Level Task Force on Global Food Security. Another example is the Zero Hunger Challenge launched by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon last June, at the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development, he said.

Public policies should also create opportunities for the most disadvantaged, including subsistence and small-scale producers, women, youth and indigenous people, he said.