Children in Benin receiving their school meal.

Children in Benin receiving their school meal.
Photo: © K. Desmarowitz/Welthungerhilfe

Ending hunger by 2030 – how?

In 15 years’ time, nobody is to suffer hunger anymore, according to the international community of states. The German NGO Welthungerhilfe organised a discussion round to identify what is needed to turn this vision into a reality.

As 2015 draws to a close, bringing with it the end of Germany’s presidency of the G7, an international panel of experts from governmental and non-governmental organisations met in Berlin, Germany, early in November to evaluate the results of the G7 summit in Elmau, Germany and the UN summit in New York, USA, and discuss with those in attendance the goal of ending global hunger by 2030.

Hans Jessen, political journalist and chairperson for the evening, opened the discussion by asking the panellists for their assessment of the results from the G7 conference and the newly agreed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The panel agreed that the goals could be praised for their ambition, but they had reservations about the lack of a strategy for implementation.

However, Carin Smaller, advisor on agriculture and investment at the International Institute for Sustainable Development, noted the historic importance that for the first time the goal is to end global hunger by 2030 and not simply reduce it. In her opinion, this goal can be achieved by 2030, as there is already enough food available to feed everyone on the planet; it is access and stability that will play a decisive role.

The Global Hunger Index 2015 showed hunger has been reduced by 27 per cent over the past 15 years, which is a positive signal for the way ahead. However, efforts would need to be greatly increased to reach zero hunger by 2030.

Alexander Müller, research fellow at the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies, made clear that documents alone do not help. To achieve the ambitious aims that have been set out will require the work of international donors, financial backing from private enterprise and supportive national governments.

An active and free civil society is also important to hold governments to account and ensure that policies are in the interest of the greater population, as highlighted by Ewnetu Mekonnen, Programme Officer with Welthungerhilfe in Ethiopia. Brazil and Ghana were given as examples of countries that have already successfully implemented ambitious hunger reduction policies.

Through the discussion with the panellists, it became clear that tackling hunger involves many factors. The importance of gender equality and women’s empowerment in achieving zero hunger in Africa was raised as well as education, protecting land rights, tackling climate change, developing adaptation strategies and reducing corruption. Conflict and political instability within countries was also named as a key driver of hunger.

Securing land rights and protecting small-scale farmers from land-grabbing by international corporations was repeatedly identified as a fundamental factor for strengthening local food production networks and food security. Another key theme of the discussion was that of reforming global trade regimes, ensuring small-scale farmers can benefit from them and have sufficient access to markets and processing facilities to better support their livelihoods.

The evening ended by taking a look forward at the next steps needed to enable the goals to be reached. Heike Henn from the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development stressed that there is no master plan for ending hunger and that it can only be achieved by developing locally adapted national strategies. Regarding the G7, the accountability process will be vital to ensure that the appropriate action follows this summer’s conference. Japan will release the next comprehensive accountability report on the G7 commitments next year.

The monitoring process for the SDGs should also start from 2016 onwards to ensure that all countries are on track, and that there is sufficient commitment from all stakeholders. Further steps mentioned included: setting an example by working on the SDGs in Germany, developing partnerships, making sure safety nets such as cash transfers or food stamps are in place if needed and concentrating on the most vulnerable regions, such as those affected by war. The panel agreed that it is only then that all countries can reach the ambitious, yet attainable, goal of ending hunger by 2030.

Fraser Patterson, Welthungerhilfe, Bonn/Germany

More information: Welthungerhilfe