Ending Hunger in Asia and the Pacific

Launch of “Zero Hunger Challenge” Campaign with Jan Eliasson, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations.

Honorable Ministers,
Excellencies,
Distinguished Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

In 1964, as part of his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said: “I have the audacity to believe that people everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies; education and culture for their minds; and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits.”

Hunger, freedom, and development are all parts of the same whole, and we share Dr. King’s ‘audacity’ in our pursuit of – in the words of the United Nations Charter: “better standards of life in larger freedom.”

Hunger is the single greatest obstacle to creating the inclusive, sustainable, and resilient future we want.

Ending hunger requires us to improve food systems, promote food sustainability, and ensure economic, social, and physical access to food – especially for our poorest and most vulnerable groups.

It also means providing protection through better financial security and food provisioning, to help poor households avoid the worst impacts of a hand-to-mouth existence.

We are here today for an update on the implementation of the Zero Hunger Challenge campaign. The global Campaign was initiated by the United Nations Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, in June last year, during the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development, in which I participated.

The challenge of Zero Hunger sets five very specific goals:

• 100% access to adequate food all year round.
• Zero stunted children in less than 2 years.
• All food systems are sustainable.
• 100% increase in smallholder productivity and income.
• Zero loss or waste of food.

In Asia-Pacific, we launched the regional Zero Hunger Challenge campaign during our 69th Commission session in April, with the participation of the Prime Ministers of Timor-Leste and the Solomon Islands, the Deputy Prime Minster of Thailand, and the United Nations Deputy Secretary-General.

It is an effort of critical importance to the countries of Asia and the Pacific – where more than 553 million people remain undernourished, and with hotspots, such as South and South-West Asia, where underweight children still comprise, on average, more than 40 per cent of all children.

During our regional launch, I mentioned that Timor-Leste would be the first country where ESCAP and FAO would work together under our recently-agreed cooperation framework towards the shared goal of a world of zero hunger, country by country.

I am delighted, therefore, to inform you that the launch of the Zero Hunger Challenge in Timor-Leste will be held less than a month from today, and that the launch will be graced by the presence of Her Royal Highness, Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn of Thailand.

The fight against hunger and malnutrition is a cause very close to Her Royal Highness’ heart, and ESCAP and the FAO are deeply honored to join with her and the Government of Timor-Leste to initiate this first national launch of our regional Campaign.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Mr. Konuma will now share with us the progress that we have made in promoting the Zero Hunger Challenge.

We share the responsibility to end hunger in our lifetime. Let us, together, rise to the Challenge and commit ourselves to work together to make hunger history.

I thank you.