Fertile soil for food security
G7 Summit

Fertile soil for food security

Food security is a vital investment, but development funding is failing to keep pace with surging hunger in many parts of the world. With Italy placing food security high on its G7 agenda, it is time for global leaders to match words with action

For more than 70 years, Italian governments have generously supported the work of the United Nations in tackling global hunger and promoting sustainable agricultural development.

Most tangibly, Italy hosts the global headquarters of the three UN agencies that lead this shared mission – including my organisation, the World Food Programme. We are proud to call Rome our home.

This decades-long commitment to alleviating hunger is reinforced by the Italian government’s decision to prioritise food security, sustainable development and stronger partnerships with the Global South as key objectives for its presidency of the G7 in 2024.

As G7 leaders gather for the summit in Apulia, it is essential that these commitments inspire concrete action and investment from the leading industrialised economies.

Hunger is surging in many parts of the world, but humanitarian and development funding is failing to keep pace with these growing needs. In a period when government budgets are tight and national politics are often fractured and complex, it is tempting to retreat and focus on domestic concerns. But this would be a historic mistake.

Food security, poverty reduction and sustainable development are not just humanitarian imperatives. They are also vital investments in our collective global security and stability.

A new manifesto

WFP’s G7 manifesto sets out a series of practical measures that create four broad pillars to support global food security: building climate resilience and protecting our planet, empowering people to live and thrive in their own communities, promoting wider prosperity, and laying the foundations for greater peace and stability.

Although armed conflict remains the primary driver of hunger – illustrated most recently by the destructive violence in Sudan and Gaza – the climate crisis is plunging millions more people into food insecurity each year. Increased climate resilience is therefore critical for protecting the nutritional health of rural communities across the Global South.

For this reason, WFP is calling on G7 leaders to invest in effective early-warning and anticipatory action programmes to address the growing threat that our systems of food production face from a heating world. This needs to be matched by funding for programmes to restore degraded ecosystems and agricultural lands, build climate-smart infrastructure such as water storage and irrigation systems, and provide smallholder farmers with insurance protection against climate hazards.

Just as importantly, vulnerable communities must be empowered with the skills and tools they need to escape hunger and achieve self-sufficiency.

National social protection systems, such as school feeding programmes, are potentially a game changer in reducing needs over the longer term. Similarly, local schemes that give smallholders access to new farming techniques and equipment, together with assistance to sell crops commercially, can transform the food security of entire communities.

For broader prosperity

These initiatives also promote broader prosperity by strengthening food systems and supporting sustainable livelihoods. Yet their ultimate success will be determined by the availability of private sector capital and expertise, which will only flow freely if an attractive investment climate is on offer.

The international financial institutions can catalyse this process with seed funding for agriculture, infrastructure, health and education programmes at the national level. But G7 members must show global leadership on unlocking the necessary finance to fire up the engines of growth.

Finally, we need G7 leaders to use their diplomatic influence to broker solutions to the conflicts that sustain the suffering in hunger hotspots – from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to Haiti, Syria and Yemen, and many other countries in-between.

We must break the vicious cycle of conflict and hunger that traps countless millions of families around the world, and this means using all possible leverage to create the conditions for increased stability and peace.

Taken together, WFP’s manifesto proposals offer a blueprint for reducing humanitarian needs over time, while strengthening livelihoods and fostering long-term economic development for the most vulnerable populations. We stand ready to work with governments, the private sector and our humanitarian partners to rally the resources and resolve needed to implement these solutions at scale.

Italy has placed a clear commitment to food security and sustainable economic development high on the G7 agenda for the Apulia Summit. Now it is up to the global leaders gathered there to bring
it to life. It is time to match words with real action.