March 21, 2017 | By Catherine Bertini

Ending Hunger Is Within Our Grasp

This post originally appeared on Farming First

After years of incremental progress in the fight against poverty and malnutrition, eradicating hunger is now within our grasp. The world is changing, and we face growing challenges and new risks—but we’ve also never been as well prepared to meet these challenges. Ending hunger will require action, engagement, commitment, and collaboration from all sectors, across generations, and from every corner of the world.

At the Chicago Council on Global Affairs’ Global Food Security Symposium in Washington, DC on March 29 and 30, top visionaries from every sector will gather to generate the productive dialogue and actions necessary to ensure strides in global food security and agricultural development. At the event, the Council will release its new report, Stability in the 21stCentury: Global Food Security for Peace and Prosperity, which outlines the progress that’s been made to advance food and nutrition security, emerging challenges, and strategies for engagement by national governments, the private sector, and the United States.

The progress is clear: since 1990 global hunger and extreme poverty have fallen significantly, and agricultural production has, on average, doubled. The world is less poor, less hungry, and healthier than it was just a few decades ago.

Advancing food security promotes national security interests, as hunger and unstable food prices can spur unrest and instability, sometimes with widespread ramifications. Investments in agricultural development and food security can transform economies, building new markets locally, nationally, regionally, and globally.

But challenges remain, and new risks are emerging—which we must be prepared to meet. Even with the gains we’ve made, nearly 800 million people are still chronically hungry, and over 700 million live in extreme poverty. Gains in agricultural production have occurred unevenly—in fact, some countries have seen their productivity decline in recent years. Increasingly urban populations and the growing demographic youth bulge put new pressures on global food systems, and volatile weather patterns and natural resource pressures will test our ability to meet growing demand for food safely and sustainably.

Meeting these challenges means we must fully leverage research and development in order to respond, whether on the farm or throughout the supply chain. The expertise and knowledge from national and global research institutions, from universities to the CGIAR system, must reach and equip producers within low-income countries’ agricultural systems. The power of the private sector must also be unleashed to meet these challenges, as new platforms for cross-sectoral collaboration bring its strengths to the forefront of the fight against hunger. Innovations in investment and finance have the potential to unlock impact and finance at scale—and they must, as the world’s farmers face an estimated $200 billion gap in unmet financing. Strong leadership by policymakers will also be essential, including those in donor countries, like the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), as well as in rising global powers and within low-income countries.

Importantly, these efforts will require the commitment, innovation, and expertise of the next generation of leaders, who will drive progress forward. As youth populations continue to grow rapidly in emerging economies, they can make tremendous contributions to development, including in agriculture and the broader food system.

The Council’s Symposium will highlight the voices and expertise of this next generation of leaders in agriculture, food security, and nutrition. 20 exceptional students from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Honduras, India, Nigeria, Tanzania, Thailand, Uganda, and the United States comprise the Global Food Security Symposium 2017 Next Generation Delegation. Students from around the world will also join us digitally as Social Media Ambassadors, promoting engagement online and bringing their voices to the digital discussion surrounding the event.

I hope that you will add your voice to this important discussion. Watch for the release of the new report, Stability in the 21st Century, on March 30. And, tune into the symposium livestream on March 29 and 30 and share your questions and observations for panelists via Twitter, using #GlobalAg.

The continued existence of hunger and malnutrition defies logic in an age of progress and modernity. We need everyone at the table to solve problems and innovate—across geographies, generations, and disciplines—so please do your part to shape the dialogue by joining the conversation on this critical issue.  Together, we can end hunger, once and for all.

About

The Global Food and Agriculture Program aims to inform the development of US policy on global agricultural development and food security by raising awareness and providing resources, information, and policy analysis to the US Administration, Congress, and interested experts and organizations.

The Global Food and Agriculture Program is housed within the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, an independent, nonpartisan organization that provides insight – and influences the public discourse – on critical global issues. The Council on Global Affairs convenes leading global voices and conducts independent research to bring clarity and offer solutions to challenges and opportunities across the globe. The Council is committed to engaging the public and raising global awareness of issues that transcend borders and transform how people, business, and governments engage the world.

Support for the Global Food and Agriculture Program is generously provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Blogroll

1,000 Days Blog, 1,000 Days

Africa Can End Poverty, World Bank

Agrilinks Blog

Bread Blog, Bread for the World

Can We Feed the World Blog, Agriculture for Impact

Concern Blogs, Concern Worldwide

Institute Insights, Bread for the World Institute

End Poverty in South Asia, World Bank

Global Development Blog, Center for Global Development

The Global Food Banking Network

Harvest 2050, Global Harvest Initiative

The Hunger and Undernutrition Blog, Humanitas Global Development

International Food Policy Research Institute News, IFPRI

International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center Blog, CIMMYT

ONE Blog, ONE Campaign

One Acre Fund Blog, One Acre Fund

Overseas Development Institute Blog, Overseas Development Institute

Oxfam America Blog, Oxfam America

Preventing Postharvest Loss, ADM Institute

Sense & Sustainability Blog, Sense & Sustainability

WFP USA Blog, World Food Program USA

Archive

Big Ideas & Emerging Innovations

Highlighting approaches, technologies, and ideas that have the potential to radically advance sustainable and nutritious food security globally.

Norman Borlaug Centennial Q&A with Margaret Catley-Carlson

In order to shine a spotlight on the amazing agricultural work being done today, and in honor of the Borlaug Centennial year, The World Food Prize invited 2014 Borlaug Dialogue speakers and experts from around the globe to respond to questions regarding their work, their goals and their inspiration.

Improving Native Bee Abundance for Sustainability

The health of pollinators and honey bees has garnered increasing attention recently, with discussions around the causes of and remedies for issues such as Colony Collapse Disorder.


Norman Borlaug Centennial Q&A with Ndidi Nwuneli

In order to shine a spotlight on the amazing agricultural work being done today, and in honor of the Borlaug Centennial year, The World Food Prize invited 2014 Borlaug Dialogue speakers and experts from around the globe to respond to questions regarding their work, their goals and their inspiration.

Norman Borlaug Centennial Q&A with Dr. Sanjaya Rajaram

In order to shine a spotlight on the amazing agricultural work being done today, and in honor of the Borlaug Centennial year, The World Food Prize invited 2014 Borlaug Dialogue speakers and experts from around the globe to respond to questions regarding their work, their goals and their inspiration.

Big Ideas and Emerging Innovations

Highlighting approaches, technologies, and ideas that have the potential to radically advance sustainable and nutritious food security globally.

Zipporah’s Miracle Harvest

When I first met Zipporah Biketi in western Kenya while reporting The Last Hunger Season book, she and her husband and four children were living in a small mud hut with a thatched roof that leaked in the rain.

Big Ideas and Emerging Innovations

Highlighting approaches, technologies, and ideas that have the potential to radically advance sustainable and nutritious food security globally.


To Succeed, Let’s Make Room for Failure

It is well-known that, unfortunately, many development interventions worldwide have failed to provide benefits to the communities in which they are implemented.

Nutrition Interventions from the Lab to the Field

As a student in nutrition and international development, I have strived to develop a variety of skills in the fields of food security and nutrition. My experiences so far have convinced me that ensuring global food security requires a breadth of measures, from the lab to the field, in order to attain sustainable solutions to these pressing problems.

Rasoa's Big Plans

With Rasoa Wasike’s first big harvest came big plans for the future. She and her husband Cyrus would begin saving money for their three sons to attend high school.

Watch the next installment of Roger Thurow's The Last Hunger Season film series. 

USDA Secretary Vilsack on Innovation in Agriculture

The Global Alliance for Climate Smart Agriculture aims to increase agricultural productivity worldwide, ensure agriculture’s resilience to climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture.

Big Ideas and Emerging Innovations

Highlighting approaches, technologies, and ideas that have the potential to radically advance sustainable and nutritious food security globally.