It seems pretty obvious that food is a prerequisite to life and prosperity for anyone and everyone. Despite this, more than 850 million people still go hungry. And given rising consumption rates (driven by increasing populations and burgeoning middle classes) combined with natural resource constraints (land, air and water) without a dramatic and coordinated effort, this situation will only get worse.
Addressing hunger/food insecurity requires a consistent, global, long-term, multi-stakeholder effort -- even beyond what we've seen thus far and despite the fact that our economies are struggling. So I was very proud (and honored to be in the room) when President Obama spoke on this very subject a few weeks ago at a Chicago Council on Global Affairs event in advance of the G8 Summit. There Obama committed America to continuing to lead the global fight to end hunger.
This pledge and many others like it make clear that there is greater understanding and greater commitment than ever before among all actors. But while it's a triumph to finally see food security making it to the top of the G8 and G20 agendas, that is just the beginning. The words are important but actions are paramount.
Helping to figure out what the right actions might be is exactly what a group of about 20 leading companies and civil society organizations have been doing as part of the World Economic Forum B20 Task Force on Food Security. (Full disclosure, Kraft Foods, my employer, is a member of this B20 Task Force).
Anyway, many representatives from this group will meet with government leaders in Los Cabos, Mexico this weekend to share our thinking about what's needed. I obviously can't predict how everything will turn out but I can share a bit about what we're recommending.
First of all, we're suggesting an audacious but achievable goal. Here it is in a nutshell: deliver food and nutrition security for all by increasing food production and productivity by 50 percent by 2030. Do this in ways that are environmentally sustainable and that simultaneously improve the livelihoods and incomes of farmers around the world.
Simple to say but, as you might imagine, not so simple to do. So we've taken a holistic approach and identified nine areas where we think government, business and civil society need to act in order to create sustainable and scalable solutions. I couldn't possibly list all the details here, but I can tell you they cover everything from increased investments in agriculture to risk management/access to finance to land rights to nutrition to biofuels. And if this is an area you are involved with, I encourage you to check out the details by clicking here.
We're on the cusp of something that truly could change the world for the better. But it'll take unprecedented collaboration and commitment to get there. So, we all need to step up. If you care about food security (and we all should since we all need to eat to survive) please do your part. Get informed and get involved. The needs are so vast everyone has something they can do to make a difference. Tell your congressman to support the emergency food aid budget and not to cut funding to USAID. Buy brands that promote sustainable agriculture. Donate to the World Food Program or CARE or Catholic Relief Services or Save the Children (there are so many worthy organizations that are doing great work in this space). Advocate for land rights or women's rights or free trade. Or just read the report and share it with other who work in this space. If we all do a bit it can add up to a lot. I know the B20 Food Security Task Force companies are committed. We hope the G20 leaders and all of you will join us!