UN launches ‘zero hunger challenge’ in Asia

By The Nation | Source: ANN

The United Nations launched the “Zero Hunger Challenge in Asia and the Pacific” here recently in the presence of national leaders, calling on governments, farmers, scientists, business, civil society and consumers to join hands to end hunger in the region where the majority of the world’s undernourished people live.

“We cannot rest while so many people go hungry in a world where there is enough food for all,” UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson told the launch ceremony, which was attended by the premier and defence and security minister of Timor-Leste, Kay Rala Xanana Gusmao, Solomon Islands Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo, and the Thai deputy PM and agriculture and cooperatives minister, Yukol Limlaemthong.

“Sustainable development and inclusive growth will not happen on empty stomachs,” said Noeleen Heyzer, UN under-secretary-general and executive secretary of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific.

“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,” she said.

According to Hiroyuki Konuma, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation’s assistant director-general and regional representative for Asia and the Pacific, one in every eight people in Asia-Pacific lacks the most basic human right because they are victims of chronic hunger. Nearly two-thirds of the world’s chronically hungry people live in the region.

“The MDG [Millennium Development Goals] goal of reducing the proportion of extreme hunger by 2015 and eradicating hunger within our lifetime are still achievable if we work harder, doubling our effort as a team,” he said.

The global “Zero Hunger Challenge”, proposed by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon during the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in June 2012, has five objectives: 100-per-cent access to food for all, all year round; an end to stunting among children under two because of a lack of nutrients during pregnancy and in the early days of life; ensuring sustainable food systems; doubling smallholder productivity and income; and reduction in food loss, at the farmer level, through lack of suitable storage and reduction of waste of food by retailers and consumers.

“The attainment of the Millennium Development Goal on poverty and hunger in this region during the remaining 1,000 days in a big push is the first step to eliminating hunger,” Eliasson said. “We are counting on all partners to come together and make this happen. Governments, farmers, scientists, activists, businesses and consumers in AsiaPacific all have to be part of this effort.”

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