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Will hunger become history?


Authored by Gerda Verburg

A second life for your left-overs, drones cutting post-harvest losses, and no food riots. Can we achieve Global Goal 2: Zero hunger? Gerda Verburg Chair of the UN Committee on World Food Security, explores the future.

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About the author

Gerda Verburg

Gerda Verburg

Chair of the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS), Gerda Verburg is the Dutch Permanent Representative to the UN organisations in Rome. She also chairs the World Economic Forum Council on Food and Nutrition Security.

Dear 2030,

For the first time in the history of humanity, if you cannot finish your plate, you are no longer reminded of other children going to bed starving. Because hunger became history! Agriculture has become sustainable; it contributes very little greenhouse gas emissions, and through land use, mitigates emissions from many other sectors.

It provides fulfilling livelihoods for many farmers worldwide, of all sizes. Farmers, women and men with equal opportunities are proud of, and respected for their role to feed their communities or other regions of the world. They are conscious of their responsibility, with all other partners of the food supply chain, to provide the people with tasty, authentic, safe and nutritious food. And at the same time, they are proud to care for the planet, and pass it on to future generations in its best shape.

Natural resources, which once used to be a reason for competition, crises or even wars, are no longer exhausted.

Today, when a new issue arises, all actors concerned are connected, sit down and discuss; they share views, listen, and agree on solutions for the common good. This is what, ‘in the old days’, we called the ‘multi stakeholder approach’, which, believe it or not, in 2015 was brought up as a major innovation within the UN System and other global policy making fora. Such was the Committee on World Food Security (CFS), which I happened to Chair when we first envisioned the world we wanted to offer you, in New York, Rome and worldwide.

It was an interesting but not an easy journey. It took the mobilisation of thousands of engaged citizens, entrepreneurs, decision makers, opinion shapers and academia etc. CFS developed guidelines for tenure of land, fisheries and forests and designed principles for responsible investments in agriculture and food systems. It required time, patience, commitment and responsibility.

The shared understanding that this was the best way forward. The will to build trust, the optimism that we would succeed based on the vision of the world we would pass on to you. And plenty of energy to communicate this vision to every citizen worldwide, in order to make it happen at grassroots level!

Today, the left-overs on your plate will not go into the rubbish as they used to. Post-harvest losses have been brought down to almost zero; by harnessing the potential of (communication) technologies such as through mobile phones, weather forecasts, satellite use, drone technology, storage, processing, infrastructure and connection to markets.

Food waste has been considerably reduced worldwide as well, and the circular economy provides plenty of options for a second life for the left-overs on your plate. You are unfamiliar with food riots, with pictures of wasted children or undernourished mothers from countries caught in protracted crises. You do not have to worry about future heart disease or diabetes, and feeding 9 billion people in 20 years’ time is no longer a glooming challenge, thanks to sustainable food systems.

After decades of pursued co-ordinated efforts worldwide by all stakeholders, goal ‘zero hunger’ is reached. This was our vision: our ‘agenda 2030’ for you!

Gerda Verburg

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