Let's Make Hunger History in Asia and the Pacific

Launch of “Zero Hunger Challenge” Campaign in Asia-Pacific
69th Session of the Commission
Bangkok, Thailand, on 29 April 2013

Your Excellency, Mr. Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão,
Prime Minster of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste

Your Excellency, Mr. Gordon Darcy Lilo,
Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands

Your Excellency, Mr. Yukol Limlamthong
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Cooperatives of Thailand

Mr. Jan Eliasson,
Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations,

Honorable Ministers,
Distinguished Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

We are here today to launch the Zero Hunger Challenge Campaign in the Asia-Pacific region, and we are honoured by the participation of our United Nations Deputy Secretary-General.

This Campaign was initiated globally 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 importance of the Campaign cannot be overstated in its aims to drive worldwide efforts to defeat hunger.

It is unacceptable that in the 21st century, with all of our technological and agricultural expertise, more than 870 million people globally wake up hungry every morning, try to find the energy to make a living for their families through the day, and then still go to bed hungry at night.

The people of Asia and the Pacific have not been spared. Despite the good progress made in reducing extreme poverty, Asia-Pacific is still home to 563 million undernourished people – and 134 million of them are children under the age of five. Allowing children to go hungry is, essentially, stunting our shared future.

Sustainable development and inclusive growth will not happen on empty stomachs, which is why our efforts to eliminate hunger require such close international and regional cooperation and coordination. This launch today, during our 69th Commission session, is another good illustration of the value of the United Nations Regional Commissions – their convening power and the intergovernmental platform which they provide to tackle our most critical shared challenges. It is also a demonstration of how the Regional Coordination Mechanisms (RCMs) bring the UN family together, to work as one on our most important development priorities.

The presence today of the Honorable Prime Ministers of Timor-Leste and the Solomon Islands shows the strong commitment of these leaders to fight hunger. It is very appropriate, therefore, that Timor-Leste and the Solomon Islands will be the first two countries where ESCAP and FAO will work together under our recently agreed cooperation framework towards the shared goal of a world of zero hunger.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As my good friend, and Nobel Prize laureate, Amartya Sen has said, hunger relates not only to food production and agricultural expansion, but also to the functioning of the entire economy and the political and social arrangements that can influence people’s ability to acquire food.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We can eliminate hunger in our lifetimes. Let us together make hunger history. Let there be no more cries of hunger.

I thank you.