Spotlight Series: SDG 2 – Zero Hunger

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The second sustainable development goal set by the UN aims to “End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture. This is not the easy since the success of this goal is tied to the success of many other ones. A similar goal was set in 2000 under the Millennium Development Goals, when the UN aimed to halve the proportion of people who suffer from hunger. Even though the target was narrowly missed, the proportion of people living in hunger has decreased to almost half between 1990 and 2015.[1] However, there’s still a lot to do before achieving zero hunger. The UN estimates that around 11% of the world population is living in hunger, most of whom are in developing countries.[2]

When it comes to hunger, children seem to be more affected, with undernutrition causing a lot of problems in the early childhood years for many of them. Undernutrition remains one of the main causes of infant deaths around the world.

The second sustainable development goal aims at insuring that hunger and malnutrition are eradicated by 2030. In addition to that in aims at ending wasting and stunting in children under 5 and address the needs of females and the elderly by 2025.

The issue with the second SDG is that it is very dependent on the success of other goals. It is accepted that the main cause of hunger is poverty and the unequal distribution of resources. One of the UN’s main obstacles on the way to tackling hunger is tackling poverty. While the world makes enough food for everyone, the problem of distribution still ultimately leads to hunger and remains unsolved.

While we do produce enough food already, growth in the population might pose another obstacle in the way of eradicating hunger. The World Bank projects an increase in the population of more than one billion up to 8.5 billion by 2030. This figure rises to more than 9.5 billion by 2050.[3] This increase would mean there is a need for increased production of food along with insuring its fair distribution.

More problems arise when you consider climate change. Temperature increase, the rise of CO2 levels in the atmosphere and unpredictable weather pattern along with other climate related issues negatively affect agriculture. Projections of the European Environmental Agency show that the impact of climate change of agriculture unfairly hits developing countries while it is mostly beneficial for most of Europe and North America. These increased inequalities would lead to more hunger in developing countries. The world needs to tackle climate change and adapt to its effects on agriculture to bring an end to hunger in the future.

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Projected impact of climate change on agricultural yields [4]
The second SDG also recognizes its economic hurdle, leading it to focus on supporting agriculture, since it is the largest employer for households in rural areas. The UN hopes to increase worldwide investment in agriculture and rural infrastructure to support local economies and insure rural household, especially those in developing countries have access to the resources necessary to avoid hunger and undernutrition.

While hunger remains one of the biggest issues facing humans worldwide, the progress made so far and the recognition of future problems gives reasons to be hopeful that we will be able to pass all obstacles and insure hunger is a problem of the past by the 2030 deadline.

 

This is part 3/18 of a series on the Sustainable Development Goals.

 

 

[1] http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/2015_MDG_Report/pdf/MDG%202015%20rev%20(July%201).pdf

[2] http://www.worldhunger.org/2015-world-hunger-and-poverty-facts-and-statistics/

[3] http://datatopics.worldbank.org/health/population

[4] https://www.eea.europa.eu/data-and-maps/figes/projected-impact-of-climate-change

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