UN Zero Hunger Challenge offers ray of hope in fight against hunger

Published: 21st June 2012

International agency Oxfam today welcomed the announcement by the UN Secretary General to create a global Zero Hunger Challenge to eliminate hunger and ensure that everyone everywhere has enough to eat while living within the earth’s limits.

The challenge echoes the successful ‘Hunger Zero’ strategy of the Brazilian hosts which has cut child malnutrition and lifted millions out of poverty.

“Ban Ki Moon’s announcement is a welcome ray of hope in a summit that has been shamefully devoid of progress for the almost billion people who go to bed hungry every night. Despite the fact that the world produces enough food to feed everyone, there are more hungry people today than when the world last met in Rio in 1992,” said Barbara Stocking, Chief Executive of Oxfam GB.

“Brazil has proved what can be achieved when a government has the vision and the commitment to make fighting hunger a priority. Hunger Zero has transformed the lives of millions, slashing child malnutrition by almost two thirds and helping to lift an incredible 28 million people out of poverty.

“The involvement of small holder farmers especially women is critical to its success as they offer the greatest potential for feeding our growing population.

This is the first big idea on food to come out of the Rio+20 debacle. We welcome the ambition of the Zero Hunger Challenge and the call for it to be met with women at the center. But it is in total contrast to the lack of any action in the Summit conclusions which simply reiterate the status quo. Even modest proposals to help small farmers were stripped out of the final document. Rio+20 has failed to recognize that we cannot have sustainable development unless we end hunger.”

Oxfam is calling on world leaders to put transforming the food system at the top of the agenda – just as they have done with economic growth and the financial crisis.

Ban Ki Moon’s announcement is a welcome ray of hope in a summit that has been shamefully devoid of progress for the almost billion people who go to bed hungry every night.
Barbara Stocking
Chief Executive of Oxfam GB

Notes to editors

1. The Zero Hunger Challenge announced at the Rio+20 summit (pdf) aims to ensure food for all, eliminate the stunting of children under two, create sustainable food systems, double small holder productivity and income, reduce waste and ensure responsible consumption. For more information Zero Hunger Challenge

2. Brazil’s Hunger Zero or ‘Frome Zero’ began in 2003. It consisted of 49 interlinked initiatives aimed at reducing poverty and hunger including through the ‘Bolsa Familia’ cash support to poor families, targeted free meals and support for small-holder and family farms.

3. Read Oxfam's review of the Brazil approach to tackling poverty and hunger.

4. Reuters’ footage and Oxfam images available highlighting the impact of one aspect of Brazil’s Hunger Zero policies which makes it mandatory for public schools to purchase at least 30% of their school meals for over 45 million students from small farmers. http://wordsandpictures.oxfam.org.uk/?c=11384&k=6c7889fa4a

Contact information

For more information please contact Tricia O’Rourke on +55 21 6849 2371 or Roberta Caldo on +55 21 6849 2369.

Related links

Oxfam Rio+20 media brief: Rio plus or minus 20: the record of a failing food system & what’s in store (pdf 885kb)

Rio+20: Oxfam case studies on development from five emerging economies

Blog: Can we live inside the doughnut? Why the world needs planetary & social boundaries

More on Oxfam's GROW Campaign to ensure we all have enough to eat