Zero Hunger champions

How hunger, disease and hardship inspired four activists to harness the power of advocacy

“Food waste is a lack of respect for your time and money, farmers, animals, and all the energy and resources used,” says Selina Juul of Denmark’s Stop Wasting Food movement. ©Andreas Mikkel Hansen


Everybody has a role to play in achieving the Sustainable Development Goal of Zero Hunger by 2030, and each of us can contribute to this goal in different ways. We can learn to produce more with fewer resources, find ways to reduce food loss and waste, adopt healthier and more sustainable diets, and urge other people, countries and institutions to do their part as well.

Here are four examples of people from different walks of life who have found ways to use their professional skills to support the Zero Hunger effort. 

When Selina Juul was a teenager in her native Moscow, food shortages in post-Soviet Russia made it difficult for families to put food on the table. Today, as a communication professional in Denmark, Juul encourages consumers, food distributors and policymakers to put a dent in food waste by promoting food sharing.

Juul is a European Young Leader 2018 and the founder of the Stop Wasting Food movement in Denmark, a member of the EU Platform on Food Losses and Waste. She blogs, gives TED Talks, lobbies policy makers and dialogues with organizations like FAO to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals of eliminating hunger and halving food waste by 2030.

“Due to our work, in the last six years, Danish consumers have reduced food waste by 14 000 tons,” Juul says. In the summer of 2018, the Danish government agreed to set up a think tank on food loss and waste due to her idea.

Like Juul, Darine el Khatib uses her skills as communication and media professional based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates to call for reductions in food waste, the sharing of surplus foods, and nutrition education for vulnerable families to help them improve their food choices and general health.

El Khatib, who is from Lebanon, is also FAO’s Special Goodwill Ambassador for Zero Hunger for the Near East and North Africa. Even before joining FAO’s effort, El Khatib launched a campaign against hunger on the Middle East’s popular Fatafeat TV food channel.

“I partnered with food banks in Egypt and Sudan and non-profit organizations in Lebanon,” says El Khatib. “We packed dried foods like oil, lentils, rice, spaghetti, which could last a long time, and we went to underprivileged areas in Sudan, Egypt and Lebanon and Syrian refugee camps in Lebanon.”

The Fatafeat campaign also raised awareness in schools and households of affordable nutrition and the need to respect our food. El Khatib also produces social media videos to show how all of us can help to achieve Zero Hunger by making small changes to our daily lives like eating leftover foods, recycling and saving energy.  

Left: Media professional Darine El Khatib, FAO Special Goodwill Ambassador for Zero Hunger for the Near East and North Africa. ©FAO/Hesham Sowera. Right: Physician and policymaker Senator Guido Girardi of Chile. ©Carlo Perla

When the Chilean government decided to address skyrocketing rates of obesity, it passed a law authored by Senator Guido Girardi. Senator Girardi is a licensed physician, making him uniquely suited to write a law about the health effects of obesity. The new law was designed to improve child nutrition and to reduce the country’s overall use of processed foods.

As a medical doctor, Girardi understands the risks of diseases associated with obesity, such as hypertension, diabetes, heart attack, stroke and cancer. The Chilean law, which went into effect in 2016, regulates the labelling, advertising and sale of processed foods to children.

“Large food companies must understand the change in the current nutritional paradigm driven by civil society,” Girardi says. 

Francis Anno Ekiru of Kenya, FAO Field Officer, helps rural families to produce more with less. ©FAO/Sven G. Simonsen

Francis Anno Ekiru grew up in Turkana, an arid stretch of land in northern Kenya which lags behind the rest of the country in food security, economic well-being and literacy. He now uses his expertise as an FAO field officer to help others from Turkana produce more food and other agricultural products with fewer resources. .

Turkana borders on South Sudan, Uganda and Ethiopia. It grapples with frequent drought conditions and also hosts one of the world’s largest refugee camps.

“We want to bring about a situation where farmers and pastoralists produce not just enough food for their families, but also, a surplus giving an economic return,” says Ekiru, 40. “This makes for greater diversity in their nutrition and better health. And they can pay for other services, such as education and medical care.”

Ekiru helps farmers and pastoralists improve their farming and livestock-keeping techniques, and set up kitchen gardens with seeds, tools and training provided by FAO. He also shows them how to enhance their market potential by producing and processing a greater variety of food and non-edible agricultural products for sale.

By reaching out to farmers, consumers, retailers and policymakers, these activists have empowered others to take action and be a part of the global goal to achieve Zero Hunger.

2. Zero hunger