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Latin America and the Caribbean redouble efforts to eradicate hunger

President of Chile, FAO Director-General, Vice President of Venezuela and representatives of the 33 countries gather for FAO regional conference

7 May 2014, Santiago de Chile - Representatives of all countries in Latin America and the Caribbean have gathered here this week to agree on the actions needed to definitively eradicate hunger in the region before 2025.

"We know that the fight against hunger is a primary dimension within the major missions of mankind. It is perhaps the most brutal expression of inequality," said President of Chile Michelle Bachelet in a speech delivered at the opening ceremony of the FAO regional conference, which runs from 7-9 May.

"The Latin America and the Caribbean region has become a global example in the fight against hunger, as it has been able to reduce the proportion of undernourishment from 15percent to 8percent from 1990, and the total number of undernourished people from 66 to 47 million," FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva said during his opening remarks, urging countries to fulfill the Hunger-Free Latin America and the Caribbean 2025 Initiative goal.

Established in 2006 and endorsed by all regional heads of State and Government in the region, the Initiative aims to achieve total eradication of undernourishment before the target date of 2025.

16 countries in the region have already achieved the hunger component of the First Millennium Development Goal, cutting in half the proportion of their population going hungry. "The challenge ahead of us is reducing hunger to zero," Graziano da Silva said.

Unprecedented political commitment

The FAO Director-General noted that the extensive participation by governments in the regional conference is a sign that Latin America and the Caribbean have decided to take a definitive step towards food security.

"Today we are seeing an unprecedented level of political and social commitment. Virtually all countries in the region as well as integration organizations such as CELAC, Petrocaribe, ALBA, UNASUR, MERCOSUR, CARICOM, SICA and CAN are implementing plans and initiatives for hunger eradication," Graziano da Silva noted.

Regional Conference to set FAO priorities

FAO's Regional Conference meets every two years to discuss major challenges in food security. This time the focus is on hunger and malnutrition eradication, sustainable development and family farming.

The Conference will set FAO's regional priorities for the next two years, and also constitutes an important forum for dialogue with civil society and the private sector.

"It is an important dialogue space to convey our views to governments" said representative of the Latin American and the Caribbean Agro-ecology Movement (MAELA), Mary Noel.

Special recognition for Chile

President of Chile Michelle Bachelet received special recognition from FAO's Director-General for achieving the 1996 World Food Summit goal, having reduced by half the absolute number of undernourished people in the country.

"Chile reduced undernourishment prevalence from 9 percent in the 90's to less than 5 percent in 2011-2013. We are very proud of this breakthrough and very aware of the work we must carry on to eradicate the remaining 5 percent, which we all know is not just a number, but represents men, women and children who do not have the minimum required for their daily livelihoods," said President Bachelet.

The FAO chief highlighted Chile as a global example in the fight against hunger and praised the way the country shares its experience with the rest of the world via a number of South-South Cooperation mechanisms.