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No sustainable development without eradication of hunger and extreme poverty

No sustainable development without eradication of hunger and extreme poverty

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the World Food Programme (WFP) and Bioversity International have issued a Joint statement on the occasion of the Rio+20 conference:

June 2012

There are 1.3 billion people living in extreme poverty, and close to 900 million chronically undernourished. An additional 1 billion suffer from "hidden hunger", a lack of vitamins and minerals. Undernourishment in children prevents them from ever reaching their full physical and cognitive potential, costing lives, livelihoods and economic growth. We must all understand that the Rio vision of sustainable development cannot be achieved as long as hunger and extreme poverty persist.

We can and we must help poor people worldwide access the food they need, and we must support their efforts to escape the poverty trap for good. But the world's ecosystems and biodiversity are already under extreme pressure from overexploitation, degradation and the effects of climate change. We now face the challenge of raising global food production by 60 per cent by 2050 while managing the natural resource base so that we are not robbing future generations.

Rio+20 must demonstrate the political will to improve governance, reform policy and, above all, take action. All our efforts toward "sustainable development" will be in vain if we cannot feed humanity and also safeguard the resources upon which life depends.

We must recognize that individuals and the private sector make the bulk of investments in our food systems. The people who work the world's 500 million small farms are the backbone of many rural economies, and are the largest investors in agriculture in the developing world. They are also custodians of a large part of the world's natural resources and biodiversity. They have enormous potential as entrepreneurs, but all too often lack the resources they need to thrive, feed their families and contribute to the food and nutrition security of others.

Women are drivers of change. The majority of small farmers are women.  Giving them the same access as men to assets, services and other resources could make a powerful contribution to poverty reduction and food security.  Let us not waste this potential, nor exclude their voices.

We must scale up safety nets and build resilient livelihoods and landscapes. To ensure access to adequate and nutritious food at all times, the poorest and most vulnerable people in both rural and urban areas need to be supported through research, education, assistance, and social protection programmes, or safety nets. Disaster risk management and resilience-building need to be adopted by food-insecure countries and communities exposed to increasing land degradation and resource scarcity, changing rainfall patterns and  extreme weather events, as well as market downturns, food price spikes and other shocks.

Action also must be taken to deal with the fact that one third of food produced globally is wasted or lost to spoilage, damage and other causes. Making the most of what we already produce and harvest would reduce the increase in production required to feed a growing population, raise the incomes and food security of poor farmers, and also minimize the impact of food production on global ecosystems.

Read the statement in full at FAO's website


26.08.2016
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