Multi-Pronged Approach Needed to Fight Global Hunger
The volatility of food prices, in particular price upswings, represents a major threat to food security in developing countries and typically affects poor populations the hardest. According to the World Bank, during 2010–11 rising food costs pushed nearly 70 million people worldwide into extreme poverty.
“Food prices have continued to rise since 2007, and this has led to millions of people being unable to meet their daily food needs. The price hikes unfortunately also have meant that there is less money for food aid at a time when it is most vital,” said Danielle Nierenberg, director of Worldwatch Institute’s Nourishing the Planet project, an evaluation of environmentally sustainable agricultural innovations to alleviate hunger.
World Food Day is a global event designed to increase awareness and understanding and to create year-round action to alleviate hunger. Since 1981, the event has been observed on Oct. 16 in recognition of the founding of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), a specialized agency that was established in Quebec City, Canada, in 1945. This year’s World Food Day theme is “Food prices—crisis to stability,” with the purpose of shedding some light on this trend and what can be done to mitigate its impact on the most vulnerable.
Since the inception of World Food Day, organizations have taken advantage of the occasion to inform the public about what they can do to help end world hunger. Although the number of undernourished people worldwide has decreased since 2009, to nearly 1 billion, it is still unacceptably high. According to a recent FAO report, in Africa alone, nearly one-third of the population is undernourished and one child dies every six seconds because of the problem.
“There’s something wrong with a world in which a billion people can’t get enough to eat for normal health while a different billion people threaten their health by overeating,” said Robert Engelman, Worldwatch’s president. “World Food Day is a day for thinking hard about how to see the problem of access to nutritious food whole, as a shared global responsibility for us all.”
On Oct. 16 of this year, countries, organizations and communities are organizing events to educate and raise awareness, with the aim of addressing widespread problems in food supply and distribution systems. These events are raising money to support projects that focus on initiatives such as measures to ease population growth, boost incomes and prepare farmers to protect their harvests against the negative effects of climate change, among others.
Throughout the world, organizations and governments are developing and implementing various plans to stabilize food prices and ensure that there is food on every table. Here are just a few examples:
- India. The government is in the process of enacting a food security act that would provide food for nearly 70 percent of the population, specifically targeting the poor, who are often not counted in state surveys and who are denied many benefits.
- Armenia. The government is enacting a sustainable development program that invests in infrastructure improvements, makes financial services and credit available to farmers, encourages the environmentally sustainable use of natural resources, and ensures food safety by improving food standards.
- Telefood. Launched in 1997 by the FAO, Telefood funds micro projects that help small-scale farmers at the grassroots level. The projects aim to help farmers be more productive and to improve both local communities' access to food and farmers' access to cash income. Telefood is involved in 130 countries worldwide.
- World Food Programme. The WFP operates in 74 countries and is the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger. Currently, the Horn of Africa is suffering from the worst drought in 60 years, and 4 million people are in crisis in Somalia, with 750,000 people at risk of death in the next four months. WFP is providing food assistance to nearly 1 million people in Somalia and will scale up its operations during the coming months to reach some 1.9 million people.
- Hunger Free World. This Japanese NGO was formalized in 2000 with the goal of ending hunger and poverty through education and awareness around the world. The group supports local initiatives and young volunteers, organizes information programs, and joins forces with national and international networks to make these issues a priority for both citizens and politicians.
- Trussell Trust. This charity works to empower local communities to combat poverty and exclusion in the United Kingdom and Bulgaria. Last year, the group’s U.K. food bank network fed more than 60,000 hungry people.
There is no single solution to end world hunger, and these are just a few of the organizations that are taking the multi-pronged approach that is necessary to address this global problem. World Food Day is the perfect occasion for researchers, policymakers and NGOs to reflect on the existing efforts as well as potential future initiatives that can help fight global hunger and malnutrition.
Worldwatch’s Nourishing the Planet project recently traveled to 25 countries across sub-Saharan Africa, shining a spotlight on communities that serve as models for a more sustainable future. The project is unearthing innovations in agriculture that can help alleviate hunger and poverty while also protecting the environment. These innovations are elaborated in the recently released State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet.
State of the World 2011 is accompanied by informational materials including briefing documents, summaries, an innovations database, videos and podcasts, all available at www.NourishingthePlanet.org. The project‘s findings are being disseminated to a wide range of agricultural stakeholders, including government ministries, agricultural policymakers, farmer and community networks, as well as to the increasingly influential nongovernmental environmental and development communities.
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Wisdom the mōlī, or Laysan albatross, is the oldest wild bird known to science at the age of at least 70. She is also, as of February 1, a new mother.
<div id="dadb2" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="aa2ad8cb566c9b4b6d2df2693669f6f9"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1357796504740761602" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">🚨Cute baby alert! Wisdom's chick has hatched!!! 🐣😍 Wisdom, a mōlī (Laysan albatross) and world’s oldest known, ban… https://t.co/Nco050ztBA</div> — USFWS Pacific Region (@USFWS Pacific Region)<a href="https://twitter.com/USFWSPacific/statuses/1357796504740761602">1612558888.0</a></blockquote></div>
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theDOCK aims to innovate the Israeli maritime sector. Pexels<p>The UN hopes that new investments in ocean science and technology will help turn the tide for the oceans. As such, this year kicked off the <a href="https://www.oceandecade.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030)</a> to galvanize massive support for the blue economy.</p><p>According to the World Bank, the blue economy is the "sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystem," <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412019338255#b0245" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Science Direct</a> reported. It represents this new sector for investments and innovations that work in tandem with the oceans rather than in exploitation of them.</p><p>As recently as Aug. 2020, <a href="https://www.reutersevents.com/sustainability/esg-investors-slow-make-waves-25tn-ocean-economy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Reuters</a> noted that ESG Investors, those looking to invest in opportunities that have a positive impact in environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, have been interested in "blue finance" but slow to invest.</p><p>"It is a hugely under-invested economic opportunity that is crucial to the way we have to address living on one planet," Simon Dent, director of blue investments at Mirova Natural Capital, told Reuters.</p><p>Even with slow investment, the blue economy is still expected to expand at twice the rate of the mainstream economy by 2030, Reuters reported. It already contributes $2.5tn a year in economic output, the report noted.</p><p>Current, upward <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/-innovation-blue-economy-2646147405.html" target="_self">shifts in blue economy investments are being driven by innovation</a>, a trend the UN hopes will continue globally for the benefit of all oceans and people.</p><p>In Israel, this push has successfully translated into investment in and innovation of global ports, shipping, logistics and offshore sectors. The "Startup Nation," as Israel is often called, has seen its maritime tech ecosystem grow "significantly" in recent years and expects that growth to "accelerate dramatically," <a href="https://itrade.gov.il/belgium-english/how-israel-is-becoming-a-port-of-call-for-maritime-innovation/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">iTrade</a> reported.</p><p>Driving this wave of momentum has been rising Israeli venture capital hub <a href="https://www.thedockinnovation.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">theDOCK</a>. Founded by Israeli Navy veterans in 2017, theDOCK works with early-stage companies in the maritime space to bring their solutions to market. The hub's pioneering efforts ignited Israel's maritime technology sector, and now, with their new fund, theDOCK is motivating these high-tech solutions to also address ESG criteria.</p><p>"While ESG has always been on theDOCK's agenda, this theme has become even more of a priority," Nir Gartzman, theDOCK's managing partner, told EcoWatch. "80 percent of the startups in our portfolio (for theDOCK's Navigator II fund) will have a primary or secondary contribution to environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria."</p><p>In a company presentation, theDOCK called contribution to the ESG agenda a "hot discussion topic" for traditional players in the space and their boards, many of whom are looking to adopt new technologies with a positive impact on the planet. The focus is on reducing carbon emissions and protecting the environment, the presentation outlines. As such, theDOCK also explicitly screens candidate investments by ESG criteria as well.</p><p>Within the maritime space, environmental innovations could include measures like increased fuel and energy efficiency, better monitoring of potential pollution sources, improved waste and air emissions management and processing of marine debris/trash into reusable materials, theDOCK's presentation noted.</p>
theDOCK team includes (left to right) Michal Hendel-Sufa, Head of Alliances, Noa Schuman, CMO, Nir Gartzman, Co-Founder & Managing Partner, and Hannan Carmeli, Co-Founder & Managing Partner. Dudu Koren<p>theDOCK's own portfolio includes companies like Orca AI, which uses an intelligent collision avoidance system to reduce the probability of oil or fuel spills, AiDock, which eliminates the use of paper by automating the customs clearance process, and DockTech, which uses depth "crowdsourcing" data to map riverbeds in real-time and optimize cargo loading, thereby reducing trips and fuel usage while also avoiding groundings.</p><p>"Oceans are a big opportunity primarily because they are just that – big!" theDOCK's Chief Marketing Officer Noa Schuman summarized. "As such, the magnitude of their criticality to the global ecosystem, the magnitude of pollution risk and the steps needed to overcome those challenges – are all huge."</p><p>There is hope that this wave of interest and investment in environmentally-positive maritime technologies will accelerate the blue economy and ESG investing even further, in Israel and beyond.</p>
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