One World, No Hunger is possible!

24/25 March 2015 | „Kalkscheune“, Berlin, Germany

Realising the human right to food by 2030.

‘One World, No Hunger’ – this was the motto of an international conference of experts held on March 24/25, 2015 in Berlin. The conference was hosted by Germany’s Federal Development Minister, Dr Gerd Müller. He stated that it would be possible to provide everyone in the world with sufficient food by 2030. Through the special initiative ‘One World, No Hunger’, the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) has made tackling this huge challenge a key topic. The two-day event was organised by GIZ’s Development Policy Forum.

Together with Ertharin Cousin, Executive Director of the UN World Food Programme (WFP), and Bärbel Dieckmann, President of Deutsche Welthungerhilfe, Dr Müller outlined for journalists ahead of the conference what steps the special initiative One World, No Hunger would be taking in order to tackle the problem.

He pointed out that worldwide 850 million people are afflicted by hunger every year, and some two billion are malnourished. As he put it, ‘More people die from hunger worldwide than from the effects of AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.’ Once the international community has succeeded in halving the number of people classed as absolutely poor, he continued, eliminating hunger would be the next logical step.

Dr Müller explained to the assembled journalists that in principle the Earth will continue to provide sufficient food for the world’s growing population, so that no one need suffer hunger. He pointed to the lack of fair distribution and to unjust land use and land ownership rights as the main reasons for the persistence of hunger and malnutrition. These factors are compounded by the fact that up to 50 per cent of the food harvested ultimately rots and goes to waste because in many countries it cannot be stored and transported correctly. Finally, he added, consumers must be willing to pay reasonable prices that enable famers in the producer countries to secure a livelihood for themselves and their families.

Consequently, the key points of the special initiative One World, No Hunger include joining forces with partner countries and pressing ahead with the adaptation of agriculture to climate change, promoting innovation in the farming and food sector, establishing fair land ownership and land use rights, and placing small family farms at the centre of development efforts. The Minister also said that the status of women needs to be fundamentally strengthened, as they are an essential factor in food production, yet are usually denied access to land and credit.

During his opening address in the afternoon to some 220 participants, Dr Müller underlined the fact that the huge increases achieved in agricultural productivity mean that not a single person in the world need suffer hunger. Despite the continuous growth of the world’s population, he added, the number of people going hungry has fallen from around one billion in the 1990s to 850 million today. The biggest success stories have been achieved in China, he noted.

‘The world today could feed everyone’, said Müller. It is therefore all the more serious that hunger remains so ubiquitous, he added. The rural population in particular are among those going hungry, and small farmers in particular are unable to feed themselves and their families. The situation in developing countries, he explained, is being exacerbated by the fact that they are hardest hit by the impacts of climate change, and the number of droughts and floods there has increased.

‘In the special initiative One World, No Hunger we have an approach for tackling these complex problems’, said Minister Müller. He added that BMZ would be spending EUR 1.4 billion this year to fight hunger.

Ertharin Cousin welcomed the Minister’s initiative, noting that Germany was thus making a significant contribution toward moving hunger further up the international agenda – which is crucial if the target year of 2030 is to be realistic.

In the discussion that followed, Bärbel Dieckmann said that the fight against hunger involved more than just feeding everyone. The current distribution of poverty and wealth in the world was unbearable, she said, and governments should take measures – such as radically reforming their tax systems – to ensure that extreme inequality is eliminated so that everyone can secure their livelihood. She called on people in the industrialised countries to question fundamentally their behaviour as consumers. As she put it, ‘We are living at other people’s expense, by consuming too much energy, water and soil’.

Day two of the conference focused on expert dialogue. Experts from Africa and Europe discussed some of the lessons they had learned, and in the afternoon the discussion covered aspects of the special initiative One World, No Hunger. The organisers selected the open space format for the discussion, which participants welcomed unanimously. Dr Stefan Schmitz, BMZ officer for the special initiative One World, No Hunger, summed up what he described as a highly successful conference, and thanked everyone for their lively participation.

Impressions of the event

All Photos by Thomas Ecke

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