Sustainable Development Goals: SDG #2 End World Hunger
By Shani Asokan Ceylon Today Features
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a set of 17 goals that were agreed upon by all United Nations (UN) Member States at the 2015 UN Sustainable Development Summit as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Goal 2 for sustainable development is to achieve zero hunger worldwide by 2030. However, following a steady decline in the number of people who suffer from hunger, since 2015, the world has seen a slow rise in this statistic, and current estimates show that nearly 8.9 per cent of the world’s population suffer from hunger today. That’s an increase of 10 million people in a single year, and 60 million in approximately five years. Hence, the world is not on track to achieve this goal by 2030. Research also shows that if nothing changes, this number could increase to 840 million by 2030.
Of the world’s undernourished, 381 million are found in Asia. More than 250 million live in Africa, and this number is fast-rising.
Why the increase?
The reasons for this increase are varied. According to the World Food Programme(WFP), 135 million people across the world suffer from acute hunger due to human conflict, climate change, and economic recession. Now, with the COVID-19 pandemic, these numbers are likely to double, putting even more people at risk of suffering.
The consequences of the above- mentioned factors are vast. They result in the disruption of homes and livelihoods, loss of employment and job security and a lack of education and healthcare to name a few. Each of these consequences then contribute to world hunger. Hence, as with global poverty (discussed last week) collective action towards all 17 SDGs is necessary to bring about significant change.
Goal 2 targets
The goal to end world hunger aims to ensure that all people, particularly including the poor and under-privileged, have access to safe, sufficient, and nutritious food all year round by the year 2030. It aims to end all forms of malnutrition, including achieving global targets on stunting and wasting in children under five years of age, sufficient nutrition for adolescent girls, pregnant and lactating women, and older people. The deadline for these global targets is 2025.
SDG Goal 2 also aims to double agricultural productivity and incomes of small-scale food producers, with a focus on marginalised groups like women and indigenous people. This is meant to be achieved through secure and equal access to land, other productive resources and inputs, knowledge, financial services, markets and opportunities for value addition and non-farm employment.
To ensure sustainable food production systems and implement resilient agricultural practices that increase productivity and production is paramount as these help maintain ecosystems and strengthen the capacity for adaptation to climate change, extreme weather, drought, flooding, and other disasters and that progressively improve land and soil quality. Considering that these are some of the main causes of acute hunger, or lack of food, meeting this target is of the utmost importance.
This goal also promotes access to fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilisation of genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge, as internationally agreed. This can be done through companies using fair trade and ethical sourcing in their business practices and an increase in investment, including through enhanced international cooperation in rural infrastructure, agricultural research and extension services, and technology development specifically in least developed countries.
Additionally, this goal encourages the adoption of measures to ensure the proper functioning of food commodity markets, and facilitation of timely access to market information, including food reserves, in order to help limit extreme food price volatility. That is, to keep the food market prices consistent in an attempt to ensure equitable access for all.
Where are we in ending world hunger?
By 2020, food insecurity was already on the rise. The percentage of people either moderately or severely affected by food insecurity rose from 23.2 per cent in 2014 to 26.4 per cent in 2018. Now, with the pandemic, this is likely to worsen. Stunting and wasting among children is also likely to worsen, given the closure of schools and deterioration of access to food and healthcare in the prevailing situation.
The pandemic is an additional threat to food systems, adding to the already prevailing climate crisis, conflict, and locust crisis (very severe in parts of Africa). The pandemic also hit small-scale food producers hard, which includes 40 to 85 per cent of all food producers in developing regions.
Thus, a serious re-evaluation of current plans and policies on ending world hunger is not only timely but absolutely necessary if we are to get back on track with the 2030 agenda. Global, regional, and national level changes are needed in order to re-establish fair and equitable access to food, bail out local farmers and small scale food producers and increase access to education and healthcare. As emphasised by the 2020 agenda, collective action and global cooperation is essential to see these targets met.
Join us next week, for a discussion on SDG goal 3!