FAO Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean
Photo: ©FAO/Max Valencia

The main message of this year's Panorama of Food and Nutritional Security is that Latin America and the Caribbean met -before the deadline of 2015- the 1C hunger reduction target of the Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations, thanks to the political commitment demonstrated by all countries in the region. None of this would have been possible in the absence of a context of macroeconomic and political stability, which has allowed the region to consolidate its development during recent years.

The region has shown a positive trend in the reduction of undernourishment since 1990, as can be seen by closely scrutinizing all of the dimensions of food and nutritional security.

Panorama of Food and Nutritional Security in Latin America and the Caribbean 2014

An example for the world

Latin America and the Caribbean has become a world leader in the fight against hunger. Not only is it the only region of the world that has achieved the hunger target of the Millennium Development Goals (goal 1Cof the MDGs), reducing to less than half its proportion of under nourished people since 1990, but it is also the single region still on track to reach the more ambitious goal of the World Food Summit (WFS), which aims to halve the total number of people who suffer hunger in the region, a clear demonstration of the priority that it has given to the fight against hunger.

Regional achievements are not due to chance or mere economic development. They arise from an express decision to adopt the fight against hunger as a political commitment at the highest level, supported, embraced and backed by the whole of society. This commitment took shape almost ten years ago, when the then presidents of Brazil and Guatemala, Luis Inácio "Lula" da Silva and Oscar Berger, proposed the creation of the Hunger Free Latin America and the Caribbean 2025 Initiative (HFLACI), which was adopted by the thirty-three countries of the region and approved by the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, CELAC.

The example of our region has inspired others: in2014 Africa assumed a similar commitment to that of the HFLACI, pledging to eradicate hunger by the year 2025. This initiative reinforces the global call toend hunger with the combined force of both regions, which include 90 countries and more than 1.7 billion people. Given that the international community is discussing the work priorities for the post-2015 development agenda, this is a very strong signal, since it introduces a new approach in the fight against hunger, an approach that no longer simply seeks to reduce the number or proportion of undernourished: it calls forits eradication.

Hunger is a complex problem and there is no universal recipe for its eradication. Each country has to choose its own path. However, the positive experiences of Latin America and the Caribbean suggest that there are a number of common factors that serve as a road map: i)the political commitment of governments, ii) the mobilization of the whole of society, iii) a holistic approachthat combines the strengthening of social protection systems with measures to support production, especially of family farming; and iv) the development and strengthening of legal frameworks to consolidate progress and provide adequate budgets and resources to the fight against hunger, resulting from the activeinvolvement of the region's legislators and parliamentarians.

Global and regional progress should not cause us tolower our guard. Although the region has taken agiant step ahead by achieving the hunger target of the MDGs, there are still 37 million people in the regionwho suffer hunger, so we must redouble our efforts. Besides malnutrition due to a lack of food intake, thereis malnutrition due to excess food intake, something that has become a growing concern in the region. Overweight affects 23% of the adult population, while many countries in the region now face a double burden: hunger and overweight.

Eradicating both hunger and malnutrition is a commitment that requires the concerted effort of everyone, including governments, civil society, the private sector, academia, producers and parliamentarians. In recent years we have seen how this approach has evolved from a shared dream into a concrete action agenda at the highest level, materialized in initiatives such as the Program for the Eradication of Hunger and Poverty of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, CELAC, a sign that the region will try to maintain its leadership in the reduction of undernourishment in the coming years. FAO has supported the region's efforts for decades, and will continue to offer its international expertise and technical assistance so that the region can reach the goal of the Zero Hunger Challenge: that no child, woman or man should have to live with hunger in all of Latin America and the Caribbean.

José Graziano da Silva
Director General
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations - FAO