If we work as one, it is possible to achieve a world without hunger – and the G20’s New Delhi Summit is an opportunity to invest in this shared future
It is unthinkable in the 21st century that anyone should lose their life to hunger and malnutrition. But this is exactly the fate that threatens 345 million people today – even though we produce enough to feed everyone on our planet.
When the G20 members come together for the summit in New Delhi in September, they urgently need to coordinate efforts to increase global food and nutrition security and protect the most vulnerable populations.
At the World Food Programme, acute funding shortfalls for some of our key operations in recent months has forced us to make the impossible choice to take lifesaving food rations and cash payments away from millions of hungry people. Without substantial new funding for humanitarian programmes from the world’s richest countries, WFP and many other aid agencies will have to make the heartbreaking decision to end support for millions more in the months ahead.
STEP UP, NOT BACK
We need the G20 members to step up, not step back, and commit to investing in both short-term and long-term solutions to hunger – solutions that address the immediate humanitarian crisis, but also tackle its root causes.
This integrated approach can be seen in action in the Sahel region of West Africa, where WFP and a wide range of partners have been working together to reduce hunger and build long-term food security since 2018.
The Sahel Integrated Resilience Programme supports vulnerable communities in five countries: Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger. As well as providing food assistance, we also construct irrigation systems and rehabilitate land so it can be used to grow food, despite the changing climate. We support smallholder farmers to produce and sell crops to earn a sustainable living. And we run school meals programmes to encourage families to keep their children in education.
We have reached nearly 3 million people in 2,750 villages to date, improving their food security and building their resilience to future shocks. And we aim to support 5 million people over the next five years.
The way forward
This is the way forward: combining life-saving assistance with longer-term development solutions to achieve lasting impact. But to succeed, we need the G20 members to commit to this critical agenda in New Delhi.
First, we must encourage a more integrated approach to financing humanitarian and development assistance. With more flexible funding, WFP and other United Nations agencies can collaborate more effectively to break down the silos that exist between humanitarian and development programmes. This is the best way to ensure every donor dollar supports the communities in greatest need.
Second, we need to increase investments in long-term resilience, to boost agricultural production and support sustainable economic development. WFP’s home-grown school feeding programmes, which operate in 46 countries, showcase this innovative approach.
These programmes provide millions of schoolchildren with nutritious meals, made from food grown by local smallholder farmers. They improve the health and education of children while supporting local agricultural economies, boosting resilience and creating sustainable new economic opportunities for the whole community.
Third, we must protect global food production by fostering trade, to ensure smallholder farmers are able to obtain the seeds and fertilisers they need at affordable prices. Smallholders produce one-third of the world’s food: if they cannot afford basic agricultural inputs, the impact on food security could be devastating in many lower-income countries. Agricultural production must be protected.
Fourth, we need to assist agricultural communities to adapt to climate change and protect their livelihoods. Many regions of the world are seeing more frequent droughts, storms and floods, which often destroy smallholder farmers’ crops and livestock and leave their families hungry. Unlocking climate finance to invest in resilience and climate early-warning systems is an urgent priority.
And fifth, we all need to come together and collaborate much more closely – donor and host governments, non-governmental organisations, civil society and, crucially, the private sector. We need more innovation and partnerships across sectors, and much closer collaboration with companies developing frontier technologies that can help tackle hunger and malnutrition.
POWER IN NUMBERS
None of us can do this alone – the humanitarian challenges we face are simply too great. But if we unite, as one, I believe we can and we will succeed in achieving a world without hunger. The G20’s New Delhi Summit is our opportunity to invest in building the brighter future we all want to see.