Agriculture, Food and Beverage

We can eradicate hunger by 2030. Here's how

A farm worker looks for dried plants to remove in a paddy field on the outskirts of Ahmedabad, India, September 8, 2015. India has just suffered back-to-back drought years for only the fourth time in over a century, summer crops are wilting and reservoir water levels are at their lowest in at least a decade for the time of year. Yet Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government has not held a high-level meeting to discuss drought relief for farmers since June, when its weather office forecast - correctly as it turned out - that this year's monsoon rains would fall short. Fifteen months since winning power, in part on his record in boosting agriculture as chief minister of Gujarat, Modi faces growing criticism for failing to shield Indian farmers from deepening hardship. To match INDIA-DROUGHT/      Picture taken September 8, 2015.   REUTERS/Amit Dave

When it comes to ending hunger, people need a hand up, not a hand out Image: REUTERS/Amit Dave

Ertharin Cousin
Chief Executive Officer and President, Food Systems for the Future
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Agriculture, Food and Beverage

This article is part of: World Economic Forum Annual Meeting

Every day too many men and women in countries across the globe struggle to feed their children a simple, nutritious meal. When we talk about achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we’re talking about transforming the lives of these families at the bottom of the economic pyramid. The SDGs are not simply aspirational, but offer us a results-driven blueprint for achieving worldwide peace and prosperity and recognize that we must first reach those furthest behind – whether in developing or developed countries. The SDGs serve as a call to action for us all, beckoning us to come together in partnership to solve some of the most urgent, historically intractable problems facing humanity.

The second of these goals demands that we end hunger - a challenge some may believe is too complex or too expensive to overcome in our lifetimes. The SDG of Zero Hunger is not impossible. As Executive Director of the World Food Programme, the largest humanitarian organization fighting hunger worldwide, I lead a committed global team dedicated to achieving this goal. We recognize no one organization alone will achieve "Zero Hunger" – or any of the other SDGs – but, working together delivering innovate sustainable solutions, this goal is achievable by 2030.

Here are five steps towards achieving Zero Hunger:

  • Put those furthest behind first: To realize the full potential of our globalized economy, national governments must expand social protection schemes for the most vulnerable. Providing this opportunity for equitable economic growth will raise the purchasing power of the poorest 2 billion people, which in turn will create incremental demand, generate new jobs and jump-start local economies. Investing in inclusive development isn’t just the right thing to do, it makes good business sense too.
  • Pave the road from farm to market: Access to affordable, nutritious food for everyone – all 7 billion of us – is vital. We must innovate and invest in making our supply chains more efficient by developing sustainable durable markets. To support these markets, we must also improve rural infrastructure, particularly roads, storage and electrification, ensuring farmers’ ability to reach a wider consumer base.
  • Reduce food waste: Of the 4 billion metric tonnes of food we produce each year, one third is wasted, costing the global economy nearly $750 billion annually. In developed countries, food is often wasted on the plate, while in developing countries it is lost during production, as crops go unused or unprocessed because of poor storage or because the farmers cannot get their goods to market.
  • Encourage a sustainable variety of crops: Today, across the globe, four crops (rice, wheat, corn and soy) represent 60% of all calories consumed. To address the challenges of climate change, food availability and access, we need to help farmers explore and identify a more diverse range of crops. Agricultural crop diversity will potentially provide communities with the nutrients required for healthy growth and an active lifestyle. To achieve this objective we must educate farmers in the cultivation of these crops, which includes ensuring they have access to the requisite tools and skills. Just as important, we must build a consumer market for these diverse foods by educating communities about the nutritional importance of eating a wide range of foods.
  • Make nutrition a priority, starting with a child’s first 1,000 days: Nothing is more important to the development of a child than good health and nutrition, particularly in the first 1,000 days (from conception through to the age of two). To prevent stunting and to promote healthy development, we must ensure that children and nursing mothers have access to the required nutritious foods.

Join us in saving lives, changing lives and feeding dreams. Let’s collaborate to innovate, create sustainable solutions and reach out to those who need a hand up, not a hand out. If we work together, we will achieve the SDGs and a world free of hunger – a Zero Hunger World.

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Agriculture, Food and BeverageFood Security
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