By Charles Kwuelum
In recent years, there has been a shift in conversation about development goals. The shift from Millennium Development Goals to Sustainable Development Goals evokes contextual reflections regarding the actualization of such a ‘mega’ dream. Knowing that the eight mapped MDGs will soon expire and be replaced by the emerging seventeen SDGs, I am reminded of a key message I read several years ago about SDGs in 2015: development is both an inspiration and a discipline.
One of the fundamental development goals is to end extreme poverty and hunger. Forty-eight percent of the world’s population lives in extreme poverty, and over 800 million people face hunger and malnutrition. Reducing this hunger is possible through sustainable agriculture and food systems in alignment with socio-economic equity and just political structures. This transformation begins at the micro level of societies, but the entire process entails a holistic systemic change, and necessitates partnership between faith-based organizations and governments.
Sustainable agriculture can provide economic and social benefits while remaining within the natural boundaries of our planet. A sustainable and environmentally supportable yield that is enough to nourish nine billion people is an achievable goal. Small farmers should be guaranteed their rights to land, and have better access to education, information and fair markets/trading environment, as well as fair prices for their products. Additionally, the position of women must be improved as they play a key role in food production, but currently earn less and have fewer rights than men involved in agriculture. Rural infrastructure and services are a key factor in this and must be promoted much more intensively by national and international governmental authorities.
Food production and distribution is important when pursuing reductions in global poverty and hunger, but food waste should also be considered as well. A third of food that is produced globally goes to waste; this should be a wake-up call to us to pursue responsible food consumption and management. As much as 222 million tons of food are wasted every year by developed countries, which is approximately the annual harvest of sub-Saharan Africa.
Food security is a huge problem in the world today, and one that poses a massive obstacle in the reduction of poverty globally. Yet there are real solutions to be had and definitive actions to be taken. The first step is acknowledging the problems and defining the world we are striving for, but that is all that it is: the first step. Real action and change must follow.