Dr da Silva went on to say that the Asia-Pacific region "has more people than any other still suffering from hunger, with 490 million who still do not have enough to eat. In fact, the region is home to almost 62 per cent of the world's chronically hungry people."
As head of The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), da Silva acknowledged the great work done over the last 25 years by the nations within APAC, with the largest reduction of undernourished people in terms of global regions (236 million). They also reduced the proportion of hunger by 50 per cent in the last 25 years (24 per cent in 1990-92 down to 12 per cent in 2015), meeting FAO's Millennial Development Goal hunger target.
However, "…we still have much work to do," he said. "This region has more people than any other still suffering from hunger with 490 million who still do not have enough to eat. In fact, the region is home to almost 62 percent of the world's chronically hungry people."
He said that "empowerment and providing social protection" are key to achieving food security in the APAC region. He laid particular emphasis on enabling women, smallholders, pastoralists and marginal farmers, and commented that their stability and enfranchisement would go a long way towards addressing the issue.
"Strengthening the capacities of these target groups - to link to modern, pro-poor and inclusive value chains would offer them the opportunity to increase their agricultural output, improve their incomes and food security and contribute to rural economic growth," da Silva said.
Despite the large-scale issue of hunger, at the other end of the weight scale problem in the region is obesity - with over 18 million overweight children below the age of five, and adult obesity and its associated health risks a massive concern in many APAC countries, especially the Pacific Islands.
Dr da Silva held a bilateral meeting with Papua New Guinea's Assik Tomscoll, Minister for Agriculture and Livestock, during APRC33. As an APAC country badly affected by climate change of late, including bearing the brunt of the El Nino phenomenon's drought conditions, FAO is a vital part of PNG's capacity to rebuild food production capacities and community development and structure.
The FAO has recently adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the first two, relating to eradication of poverty and hunger - "are the most important and ambitious commitments ever made in the history of the United Nations," da Silva said.
"In fact, they are two enormous challenges. But the latest results show that the Asia-Pacific region is on the right path in trying to overcome them."
Initiatives being undertaken by the region include rice production, aquaculture, and developing local food chains for food security and nutrition in the Pacific Islands.
Ironically this comes as new figures show malnutrition continues to rise in Vanuatu's children due to the effects of the el Nino and residual problems from last year's Cyclone Pam, a nutritionist with the World Health Organisation commented on Monday.
The latest figures available from a 2012 survey show nearly three in ten children in the country suffer from stunted growth due to chronic malnutrition and more than one on four children suffer from anaemia or a lack of iron.
Dr da Silva may have concluded in his keynote address that "…eradicating hunger is essential for achieving both sustainable development and peace. [and] freeing the world of hunger and poverty is the fight of everyone", however this does not remove the issues facing the region on a daily basis today.