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Zero hunger achievable by 2030 – with right approach and stronger commitments, SDG talk hears


Maria Helena Semedo, Deputy Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization, has called on all development actors to join forces and move beyond a “business as usual” approach in tackling hunger and malnutrition in the world.

Speaking just four days after the release of a major UN report showing world hunger had risen to 815 million in 2016 - 38 million more than in 2015 - Maria Helena Semedo described the new figures as a “wake-up call” for the international community.

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“While we have made progress in the past, this is a wake-up call,” she told an audience gathered for an event on Achieving Zero Hunger, SDG2, in the SDG Media Zone at the UN General Assembly in New York on Tuesday. “We have to do things differently, and work together more. Business as usual is no longer a solution.”   

Highlighting three drivers of decreased food security: conflict, climate change and economic slowdown, Maria Helena Semedo said deeper interventions were needed to address issues affecting people’s livelihoods.

“It’s not just about [ending] conflict,” she said. “We need to have peaceful societies. A short term or humanitarian approach can provide food and save lives, but when we step back the same situation is reoccurring. We need to have a longer-term approach.

“And not only do we need greater economic growth but inclusive growth that brings greater equality. We have seen increasing inequality even where there is economic growth.”

While opening with the “bad news” on world hunger figures, Maria Helena Semedo ended on a positive note.

“I believe we can achieve zero hunger in our generation,” she said, stressing the need for society as a whole to work together behind a united cause. “A good example is In Latin America, where food insecurity has decreased. First they have political will, governments are committed. Then a regional programme, Latin America and Caribbean SinHambre, with country perspectives. However, the implementation of the programme is not just government but also civil society, youth, women, all actors working together for society’s good.”

Along with Maria Helena Semedo on the SDG Media Zone’s Achieving Zero Hunger panel were Rod Brooks, President and CEO, Rise against Hunger, Ankit Kawatra, Young Leader for the SDGs, with moderator Peter Yeo, CEO of Better World Campaign.

The aim of the SDG Media Zone is to engage people all over the world in conversations happening during the high-level week of the UN General Assembly in New York from 18-22 September 2017. Heads of State and Government are gathering at the UN Headquarters under the theme of the general debate: “Focusing on people: striving for peace and a decent life for all on a sustainable planet”.



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