New York, Jun 27 2012  6:05PM
In the wake of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s High Level Task Force on Global Food Security will be reoriented to focus on a new initiative as part of its efforts to ensure a coherent UN system approach to the issue of food and nutrition security.

At Rio+20, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, last week, Mr. Ban launched an initiative known as the ‘Zero Hunger Challenge,’ which invites all countries to work for a future where every individual has adequate nutrition and where all food systems are resilient.

The Task Force will be reoriented to focus on the Challenge’s five objectives as a guide for a coherent UN system approach to food and nutrition security.

The Challenge has five main objectives: to achieve 100 per cent access to adequate food all year round; to end malnutrition in pregnancy and early childhood; to make all food systems sustainable; to increase growth in the productivity and income of smallholders, particularly women; and to achieve a zero rate of food waste.

“The Secretary-General noted that since it was established in 2008, the Task Force had made progress in devising a common comprehensive framework for action for the UN system in food and nutrition security, particularly during recent food crises,” Mr. Ban’s spokesperson <“http://www.un.org/sg/statements/index.asp?nid=6161”>said, following a meeting of the Task Force on Wednesday morning, which he chaired.

He added that Mr. Ban noted that the Task Force had helped forge united positions among its member agencies at Rio+20 and at the Group of Eight and Group of 20 summits, and also supports the Committee on World Food Security as the primary governance body for food and nutrition.

“But with close to one billion people still experiencing chronic hunger, he urged agencies, governments, businesses, civil society organizations and the scientific community to eliminate hunger in our lifetimes,” the spokesperson added.

Chaired by the Secretary-General, the Task Force brings together the heads of the UN agencies, funds and programmes, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the World Trade Organization (WTO) with the aim of ensuring that the UN system, international financial institutions and the WTO are ready to provide robust and consistent support to countries struggling to cope with food insecurity.

In addition, Mr. Ban’s spokesperson said that the UN chief welcomed the “strong outcome” from Rio+20 on food and nutrition security.

Held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, last week, the event was attended by some 100 Heads of State and government, along with thousands of representatives from non-governmental organizations, the private sector and civil society, all seeking to help shape new policies to promote global prosperity, reduce poverty and advance social equity and environmental protection.
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Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.