Beating hunger vital to sustainable development agenda

Food security, nutrition and sustainable agriculture are key to achieving the entire set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, FAO Director- General José Graziano da Silva told world leaders in a plenary address at the UN’s Sustainable Development Summit in New York, where the post-2015 development agenda was adopted.
“We have given ourselves an enormous task, that begins with the historic commitment of not only reducing but also eradicating poverty and hunger in a sustainable way,” Graziano da Silva said during his speech.
Fourteen of the 17 new SDGs adopted at the summit are related to FAO’s mission. The second goal–which is ‘to end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture’, must be urgently pursued as rapid progress on that front is the key to the other goals, the Director-General added.
The SDGs follow and expand on the Millennium Development Goals, established in 2001 and ending this year, which set a hunger reduction target that was met by more than half of the countries monitored by FAO. But nearly 800 million people still suffer from chronic undernourishment.
A majority of the world’s poor and hungry live in rural areas, and improving their livelihoods is the core challenge. Doing so will require promoting inclusive growth and making responsible investments that address the needs of the world’s poor.
“We can only rest when we achieve zero hunger,” Graziano da Silva said. “We need to build more sustainable agriculture and food systems, that are resilient to stresses and better able to cope with, and respond to, climate change impact.”
Just investing in environmentally sustainable agriculture will not suffice, and well-designed social protection systems will also be required.
The Director-General reminded world leaders that in the next 15 years an additional investment of US$160 per year per person living in extreme poverty is needed to end hunger.
“This represents less than half a percent of global income in 2014,” he added. “And it is only a small fraction of the cost that hunger and malnutrition impose on economies, societies and people.”