OREANDA-NEWS. The heads of the Rome-based food and agriculture agencies today thanked United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for his personal commitment and leadership in challenging the world to reach Zero Hunger. They promised to maintain momentum to reach the ambitious target by 2030.

The Zero Hunger Challenge was launched in 2012 by Secretary-General Ban who handed the Zero Hunger initiative on to the three agencies today at an event in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

"Many have responded to the Zero Hunger Challenge," the Secretary-General said. "As I end my term in office, I am asking FAO, WFP and IFAD to take my Challenge forward. I am confident they will not rest until Zero Hunger is a reality."

The Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization, Jos? Graziano da Silva, the President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development, Kanayo F. Nwanze, and the Executive Director of the World Food Programme, Ertharin Cousin, committed their organizations to take 0ver the Zero Hunger Challenge and pursue its goals.

Speaking ahead of the "Pathways to Zero Hunger" event, sponsored by the three agencies, the UN Global Compact and the office of the SG's youth envoy, FAO Director-General Jos? Graziano da Silva said: "There was a time when food security, nutrition, rural livelihoods, and sustainable agriculture were viewed as separate tasks, as the responsibility of different actors, and with different purposes.

"The success of the Zero Hunger pioneered in Brazil and adopted and adapted in countries throughout the world show that these issues should be tackled together, in an all out effort involving governments, international institutions, family farmers, civil society and the private sector," said Graziano da Silva.

"The Secretary-General has always urged us to work as partners and build a truly global movement towards Zero Hunger. His leadership is an inspiration and we in Rome must now play an even greater role to generate momentum and strengthen partnerships to realize his vision of a world free from hunger," said WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin.

In Rome, ahead of the New York event, IFAD President Kanayo F. Nwanze said, "With almost 800 million people going to bed hungry every night, it is vital that we build on the momentum generated by the Zero Hunger Challenge and the Secretary-General. Together we can deliver zero hunger, but only if we focus on rural areas of developing countries where most of the world's poorest and hungriest people live."

The Zero Hunger Challenge calls on leaders, businesses and civil society to step up efforts to end hunger in our lifetimes. It is based around five objectives: access to enough food and a healthy diet for all people, all year round; an end to malnutrition in all its forms; sustainable food systems form production to consumption;  an end to rural poverty -- doubling smallholder productivity and incomes; adapting food systems to eliminate loss and waste.