(New York, 28 September 2015) In the framework of the World Summit on Sustainable Development, FAO’s Director-General, José Graziano da Silva, and the Executive Secretary of ECLAC, Alicia Bárcena met this past Sunday 27 September with members of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC, in Spanish) Quartet, to review the state of food and nutrition security in the region and how to address the challenges ahead.
During the meeting, Ricardo Patiño, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility of Ecuador –country which holds the Pro-Tempore Chair of CELAC–, and the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica and Barbados, Andrés Navarro, Manuel González and Maxine McClean, respectively, discussed with the heads of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) the achievements, experiences and lessons learned that will help to ensure food and nutrition security for all inhabitants of the region.
Patiño stressed that hunger is not simply a technical problem, but a political one that requires determination and political will to be overcome. He recalled that although 32 million people have been rescued from undernourishment, over 34 million people in Latin American and the Caribbean still suffer from hunger.
Hunger Free Latin America and Caribbean Initiative
Political commitment is at the root of the progress achieved by the region in terms of food and nutrition security. Through the Hunger Free Latin America and the Caribbean Initiative launched in 2005, the region was the first in the world to adopt the challenge of not only reducing but fully eradicating hunger by 2025.
This effort is now showing positive results and has become part of CELAC’s institutions. Latin America and the Caribbean is the only region in the world that not only reached the hunger target of the Millennium Development Goals by halving the proportion of undernourished, but has also achieved the more ambitious goal of the World Summit Food, by halving the total number of undernourished people between 1990 and 2015.
"At a time when the international community is committed to eradicate hunger, achieve food security and improve nutrition as central pillars of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the region shows that zero hunger is an achievable goal. I congratulate the Pro Tempore Presidency of Ecuador and the whole region for their efforts to transform the commitment of a hunger-free Latin America and the Caribbean into a reality,” said Graziano da Silva.
"We must celebrate these achievements but not forget that there are still outstanding challenges that the region is committed to solve. To eradicate hunger and extreme poverty and promote social inclusion of all will require to intensify the commitment by governments to achieve this by 2025, as well as the medium-term vision necessary to meet the Sustainable Development Goals that the international community has adopted”, FAO’s Chief added.
For ECLAC, the goal of public policies in the region should be to reach equality through entitlement of rights, “and food security is beyond doubt a fundamental human right”, stated Alicia Bárcena.
“In the current backdrop of a regional economic slowdown, it is more imperative than ever for countries to make all efforts to move towards a new production and consumption paradigm, key to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda” said the Executive Secretary of ECLAC.
FAO’s Director-General praised CELAC’s leadership in supporting and complementing national hunger eradication efforts, by promoting South-South cooperation within the region and the adoption of public policies that combine production support measures with particular attention to family farming, strengthening social protection and actions that seek to strengthen these policies to promote the productive and sustainable inclusion of the most vulnerable segments of society.
This wide array of actions have coalesced into CELAC’s Plan for Food Security, Nutrition and Hunger Eradication 2025. The plan was designed and is currently being implemented with the support of FAO, ECLAC and the Latin American Integration Association (ALADI), together with the governments of the region and with the participation of a wide array of social actors and organizations from civil society, at the request of CELAC.
Malnutrition and climate change
Representing the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) in CELAC’s Quartet, the Minister of Foreign Trade and Affairs of Barbados, Maxine McClean, emphasized the importance of combating not just hunger but all forms of malnutrition, recalling the links that exists between poor nutrition and non-communicable diseases.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Worship of Costa Rica, Manuel Gonzalez, greatly valued CELAC as a space to discuss topics such as hunger and alerted to the impact of climate change on the region.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Dominican Republic, Andrés Navarro, stressed the importance of advancing mitigation plans and disaster preparedness, highlighting the potential of South-South Cooperation to address regional challenges.
Closing the meeting, Minister Patiño valued the exchange of ideas and proposed that CELAC’s Quartet deepen the debate on the region’s food and nutrition security at the upcoming meeting of the Foreign Ministers of CELAC, which will be held in parallel to the preparatory meeting for the 21st Session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change of 2015.
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