MDG hunger target still within reach

Food security governance plays a vital role

15 October 2012, Rome - If countries step up their efforts to reduce hunger, the Millennium Development Goal of halving the proportion of hungry people by 2015 can still be reached, FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva told the opening session of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) today.

Graziano da Silva said that important progress has been made in cutting the number of hungry people by 132 million since 1990. The proportion of the hungry also fell in the developing world from 23.2 percent to 14.9 percent.

He expressed concern that still around 870 million people are hungry and that hunger has risen in Africa and the Near East. Progress in reducing hunger has stalled since 2007, he said.

"As we renew and increase our commitment to reach the Millennium Development Goal for hunger reduction, let's look beyond it, towards the total eradication of hunger because, when it comes to hunger, the only acceptable number is ‘zero'," Graziano da Silva said.

CFS is the foremost inclusive platform for all stakeholders to work together and recommend policies that will promote food security and nutrition for all. The intergovernmental body is open to participation by civil society, the private sector, international and regional organizations and philanthropic institutions concerned with food security and nutrition. As many as 18 government ministers are expected to attend this year's session.

Zero Hunger Challenge

The meeting heard a further call to action in a video message from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who told the opening session "you are at the heart of the next big push - eliminating hunger in our lifetimes".

"Our "Zero Hunger Challenge" has five objectives. They are:
1. A world where everyone has access to enough nutritious food all year round.
2. No more malnutrition in pregnancy and early childhood: an end to the tragedy of childhood stunting.
3. All food systems sustainable - everywhere.
4. Greater opportunity for smallholder farmers - especially women - who produce most of the world's food - so that they are empowered to double their productivity and income.
5. Cut losses of food after production, stop wasting food and consume responsibly."

Responsible agricultural investment

The FAO chief called CFS "the cornerstone of the new global governance that we are building together". He urged the CFS community to work together to develop principles for responsible agricultural investment that respect rights, livelihoods and resources.

In May this year, CFS endorsed the "Voluntary guidelines on the responsible governance of tenure of land, fisheries and forests in the context of national food security" after inclusive and participatory negotiations. The Committee will now embark on a similar two year process to agree on principles for responsible agricultural investment which will complement the voluntary guidelines.

 "Finding agreement on such complicated issues takes time," said CFS Chair Yaya Olaniran, "but the result is policies that are grounded in reality and have everyone's backing."

Ertharin Cousin, Executive Director of WFP, and Kanayo F. Nwanze, President of IFAD, also addressed the opening ceremony.

Photo: ©FAO/Giulio Napolitano
Graziano da Silva opens CFS.