Right to Food - Lessons learned in Brazil

Author: FAO Right to Food Team

Paper, 2007.

Despite significant growth in global food production, 854 million people, nearly one-sixth of the world’s population, still suffer from chronic hunger – and the number continues to grow. For these millions, generally among developing countries’ most marginalized, food and nutritional security is as scarce as their participation in political and economic decision-making, and their human right to food is far from being realized.

Many countries ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights that recognizes the right to food decades ago. They were, however, unaware of how to put this important legal principle into practice. In 2004, the Right to Food Guidelines were adopted by the members of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to help realize this essential human right in their countries.

This publication focuses on the right to food and the lessons learned in Brazil. One-third of Brazil’s export earnings come from agriculture, yet in 2004, 72 million of its 185 million residents were affected by food insecurity. Only when this situation became unacceptable to a large enough number of Brazilians, did the country reach critical mass – the point at which change had to take place. The agent for change that people chose was President Luis Inácio Lula da Silva. He had still not been sworn-in when he requested that FAO review the country’s Zero Hunger Programme (Fome Zero) proposal. Zero Hunger has made progress and the Brazilian Ministry of Social Development and the Fight Against Hunger are working hard towards improving implementation. This publication illustrates the eight steps to realize the right to Food in a Brazilian perspective.

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