Zero Hunger Challenge

At the Rio+20 Conference in 2012, the Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon launched a new initiative, the Zero Hunger Challenge. One billion people don’t have enough to eat and the Secretary-General wants to see an end to hunger in his lifetime.

Hunger can be eliminated in our lifetime
This requires comprehensive efforts to ensure that every man, woman and child enjoy their Right to Adequate Food; women are empowered; priority is given to family farming; and food systems everywhere are sustainable and resilient.

The challenge of Zero Hunger means:

    1. 100% access to adequate food all year round
    2. Zero stunted children less than 2 years
    3. All food systems are sustainable
    4. 100% increase in smallholder productivity and income
    5. Zero loss or waste of food
David Nabarro, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Food Security and Nutrition, holds up a card outlining the UN’s Zero Hunger Challenge, a sweeping initiative launched at Rio+20 to end hunger everywhere, during a meeting at the UN Office at Geneva on next week’s World Food Day (annually 16 October). 11 October 2012 Geneva, Switzerland

David Nabarro, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Food Security and Nutrition

Eliminating hunger involves investments in agriculture, rural development, decent work, social protection and equality of opportunity. It will make a major contribution to peace and stability and to the reduction of poverty. It will contribute to better nutrition for all – especially women from the beginning of pregnancy and children under the age of two. The United Nations Secretary-General gives top priority to the elimination of hunger. He appreciates the bold leadership by many from government, civil society, business, labour unions, consumer groups and the scientific community. They succeed through working together.

They encourage participation by a range of organizations, social movements and people around a common vision. They promote effective strategies, more investments and increased development cooperation, in line with existing national and international agreements. They strive for results and are accountable for their efforts – particularly to those who are hungry.

Zero Hunger Challenge in Asia and the Pacific
The United Nations launched the Zero Hunger Challenge in Asia and the Pacific on 29 April 2013 in the presence of top 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.

The Asia-Pacific Zero Hunger Challenge was launched during the 69th ESCAP Commission session. The Regional Thematic Working Group on Poverty and Hunger is co-chaired by ESCAP, the UNDP Asia-Pacific Regional Centre and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific.

The December 2013 Report of the Ministerial Conference on Regional Economic Cooperation and Integration in Asia and the Pacific, E/ESCAP/MCREI/3, noted the role the campaign could play in regional food security.

“The Zero Hunger Challenge could provide a guideline for regional cooperation in the area of food security. Regional cooperation is particularly necessary to assist countries with special needs, such as least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing States.”

Click here for the latest news on the Zero Hunger Challenge in Asia and the Pacific.

The UN Secretary-General encourages all partners to scale up their efforts and turn the vision of an end to hunger into a reality. What does this mean?


100% access to adequate food all year round
Enabling all people to access the food they need at all times through nutrition-sensitive agriculture and food systems, marketing, decent and productive employment, a social protection floor, targeted safety nets and food assistance; boosting food supply from local producers; through open, fair and well-functioning markets and trade policies at local, regional and international level, preventing excessive food price volatility.

Zero stunted children less than 2 years
Ensuring universal access to nutritious food in the 1000-day window of opportunity between the start of pregnancy and a child’s second birthday, supported by nutrition-sensitive health care, water, sanitation, education and specific nutrition interventions, coupled with initiatives that enable empowerment of women, as encouraged within the Movement for Scaling Up Nutrition.

All food systems are sustainable
Ensuring that all farmers, agribusinesses, cooperatives, governments, unions and civil society establish standards for sustainability; verifying their observance and being accountable for them; encouraging and rewarding universal adoption of sustainable and climate-resilient agriculture practices; pursuing cross-sectoral policy coherence (encompassing energy, land use, water and climate); implementing responsible governance of land, fisheries and forests.

100% increase in smallholder productivity and income
Reducing rural poverty and improving wellbeing through encouraging decent work, and increasing smallholders’ income; empowering women, small farmers, fishers, pastoralists, young people, farmer organizations, indigenous people and their communities; supporting agricultural research and innovation; improving land tenure, access to assets and to natural resources, making sure that all investments in agriculture and value chains are responsible and accountable; developing multidimensional indicators for people’s resilience and wellbeing.

Zero loss or waste of food
Minimizing food losses during storage and transport, and waste of food by retailers and consumers; empowering consumer choice through appropriate labeling; commitments by producers, retailers and consumers within all nations; achieving progress through financial incentives, collective pledges, locally-relevant technologies and changed behavior.

To learn more about food waste take a look at the Think. Eat. Save. campaign page.

For more information on the Zero Hunger Challenge visit the official campaign website.

Additional resources and information:

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks at the launch of the Zero Hunger Challenge, in Rio de Janeiro, 21 June

Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)

International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)

World Food Programme (WFP)


Rio+20: UN Conference on Sustainable Development

Committee on World Food Security