Ending Poverty and Hunger Requires Our Planet's Help
16 October – This week, two international days were marked that address global issues affecting millions of people: World Food Day on 16 October and the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty on 17 October. How the world handles these global challenges will largely be determined by actions taken towards environmental sustainability.
In his message for the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon highlights the interconnected nature of the fight against poverty and building a sustainable world. "At the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, held in June of this year, leaders from around the world declared that poverty eradication is the greatest global challenge facing the world today."
Action on climate change and the protection of biodiversity remain essential to achieving lasting food security and poverty eradication. According to the 2012 MDG Report, biodiversity loss, for instance, impacts incomes, access to food, jobs, and shelter. Forest management and conservation employs some 10 million people worldwide, the MDG report says. Additionally, being that over 70 per cent of the world is covered by oceans; some 12 per cent of the world’s population depends on fisheries and aquaculture, reports the UN Food and Agriculture Organization in its State of World’s Fisheries and Aquaculture report. Many of the people dependent on rivers and waterways for food and work are rural women. The takeaway here is that to effectively fight poverty and improve the human rights and livelihoods of people worldwide, we need to protect our planet.
The Millennium Development Goals, MDGs, over the last decade, have addressed the interconnected nature between poverty eradication, hunger, health and environmental sustainability. In the decade since the implementation of the MDGs, poverty rates have dropped in every region of the world, yet, a recent report by the FAO sites that 870 million people continue to go hungry and 98 per cent of them are in developing countries.
The message for this year's Poverty Day emphasizes the positive role MDGs play in fighting poverty. Yet, how have the MDGs helped to generate positive impacts in protecting our planet's health?
- Since 1990, protected areas increased in number by 58 per cent.
- Since the establishment of the Montreal Protocol, there has been a reduction of over 98 per cent in the consumption of ozone-depleting substances. Most of these substances are also potent greenhouse gases.
- Access to clean water has increased to 89 per cent.
The significance of these gains, documented in the 2012 MDG Report, shows that poverty eradication and environmental sustainability are both interdependent and achievable, but much more is left to be done. Biodiversity loss continues at alarming rates. The warming of our planet continues as international policy responses to curbing carbon-emissions face political road blocks. Meanwhile, droughts have been more severe this past year, inducing higher food prices that may threaten important gains made in poverty eradication.
To learn more on what actions you can take this 17 October, World Poverty Day, visit www.endpoverty2015.org
To learn more about the MDGs, visit: http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/
To follow World Food Day and recent FAO reports, visit: http://www.fao.org/news/story/en/item/161819/icode/