a) End hunger and protect the right of everyone to have access to sufficient, safe, affordable, and nutritious food
b) Reduce by x% stunting, wasting by y% and anemia by z% for all children under 5
c) Increase agricultural productivity by x%, with a focus on sustainably increasing smallholder yields and access to irrigation.
d) Adopt sustainable agricultural, ocean, and freshwater fishery practices and rebuild designated fish stocks to sustainable levels
e) Reduce post-harvest loss and food waste by x%
Food is essential to all living beings. Producing it takes energy, land, technology and water. Food security is not just about getting everyone enough nutritious food. It is also about access, ending waste, moving toward sustainable, efficient production and consumption. The world will need about 50 percent more food by 2030; to produce enough food sustainably is a global challenge. Irrigation and other investments in agriculture and rural development can help millions of smallholder farmers earn a better living, provide enough nutritious food for growing populations, and build pathways to sustainable future growth.
Today, 870 million people in the world do not have enough to eat. Undernourished women give birth to underweight babies, who are less likely to live to their fifth birthday and more likely to develop chronic diseases and other limitations. The first 1,000 days of a child’s life are crucial to giving a child a fair chance; 165 million children are ‘stunted’ or smaller than they should be for their age; others are ‘wasted’ and anaemic. Inadequate nutrition prevents their brains from developing fully and, ultimately, limits their ability to make a living.
Poverty is the main cause of hunger – most people are hungry or undernourished because they cannot afford sufficient nutritious food, not because of supply failures. Recent increases in food price volatility have shown how sharp rises in the price of food can worsen poverty. Producing more food will be essential. But it will not alone ensure food security and good nutrition.
In developed countries, the lack of a nutritious diet in childhood increases the risk of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. In all countries, adequate nutrition in childhood improves learning as well as lifelong physical, emotional and cognitive development. It lifts the individual’s potential, and the country’s.
Childhood nutrition programmes have proven successful. Reducing malnutrition, especially among the youngest children, is one of the most cost-effective of all development interventions. Every $1 spent to reduce stunting can yield up to $44.50 through increased future earnings.
Moving to large-scale sustainable agriculture, while increasing the volume of food produced, is the great challenge we face. It can be done, but this will require a dramatic shift. Agriculture has for many years suffered from neglect. Too few policies are in place to improve rural livelihoods. Too little investment has been made in research. This is true even as the goods and services produced in rural areas are in high demand— food as well as biofuels, eco-system services and carbon sequestration, to name a few.
In many places, food production tripled in the 20th century, thanks in part to high-yield crop varieties. But in many places, soils have eroded and been depleted of nutrients, holding back food production, despite incredible potential. Improved land management, fertilisers, more efficient irrigation systems and crop diversification can reverse land degradation.
Specific investments, interventions and policies can deliver results. Agricultural investments reduce poverty more than investments in any other sector. In developed countries, agricultural research provides returns of 20 to 80 per cent – a great investment in any economy. Greater yields, sustainable agricultural intensification and less post-harvest loss can help smallholder farmers produce enough to feed their families and earn a living. At the same time, less food waste in developed countries can help reduce demand for food. With these changes towards sustainable agricultural consumption and production, we can continue to feed this generation and the 8 billion people on the planet in 2030.
We cannot forget the world’s oceans. Poor management of the oceans can have particularly adverse impacts for Small Island Developing States. Reducing wastewater in coastal areas, as outlined the illustrative goal on water and sanitation, will help. But overfishing is another problem, reducing an important source of protein for billions of people. Three-quarters of the world’s fish stocks are being harvested faster than they can reproduce and 8-25 per cent of global catch is discarded. This degradation and waste creates a cycle which depletes necessary fish stocks to unsustainable levels. It also harms the ocean’s biosystems. We can and must correct this misuse; properly managing fish stocks gives fish enough time to reproduce and ensure sustainable fisheries. Currently, 30 per cent of fish that are harvested are overfished, while 12.7 per cent have greater capacity and could be fished more before reaching their natural limit.
Sustainable food production will also require infrastructure and access to markets and financing, agricultural extension services to spread the benefits of technology and innovation, more predictable global markets and enhanced tenure security. Together, they can overcome the constraints that limit agricultural productivity.