Building a future free of hunger

Nearly 870 million people around the globe suffer from chronic malnutrition. To address the challenges of food security and to secure a future free of hunger, the UN Economic and Social Council and the General Assembly’s Second Committee, in collaboration with FAO, IFAD and WFP, will be organizing a special joint meeting on “Food security and nutrition: Scaling up the global response”.

Taking place at UN Headquarters in New York, the special joint meeting will bring together experts and representatives of Governments from around the world providing a unique opportunity to discuss food security and nutrition and to identify steps to build a future free of hunger. The event aims to promote coordinated international action and to address both the immediate issue of high food prices and long-term issues of production, trade and consumption of food.

“I wish to emphasize the need to focus global political and policy attention on the plight of the more than one billion of the world’s citizens that struggle with acute hunger and malnutrition,” said the Chair of the Second Committee, George Wilfred Talbot of Guyana, in an address before the Committee. He also encouraged ministerial level participation adding “it is imperative that the global response to the crisis be scaled up as a matter of urgency.”

Addressing challenges of food insecurity and malnutrition

Recent natural emergencies around the world have devastated crops and contributed to a recent spike in food prices. At the same time, 22 countries, mostly in Africa, are in a protracted food crisis, and in the Sahel, drought threatens millions of people with hunger.

The most recent assessment by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) indicates that prices remain high and are expected to remain volatile. This situation puts pressure on the poor, most of whom spend over half of their income on food. According to the World Bank, the 2011 food price increases pushed 50 million people into poverty, undermining progress to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Extreme weather and climate-related disasters can also have detrimental impacts on nutrition. Empirical evidence shows that children born during a drought are likelier to suffer from malnourishment. These events underline the need for Member States to take urgent and effective action to tackle the root causes of high food prices, hunger and malnutrition.

At the Special ECOSOC Ministerial Meeting in September, ECOSOC President Miloš Koterec also focused on the effect of rising food prices on the prevalence of hunger. “Income inequality has been increasing dramatically in much of the rich world,” he said. “Food prices have climbed by tens of percentage points in recent years, after a century of steady decline. For the world’s poorest, this can make the difference between feeding a child or sending her to school.”

Engaging the online community

Ahead of the special joint meeting on food security and nutrition, people with access to Facebook and Twitter have been invited to post questions for the experts and government officials who will participate in the gathering. The aim of the ‘Building a Future Free of Hunger’ campaign is to give the widest possible audience a chance to shape the conversation at the meeting. During the event, which will be broadcast live via UN Webcast, participants will answer selected questions from the online community.

The overall campaign is part of the UN’s continuing efforts to build a future free of hunger, address the underlying causes of food insecurity, and build momentum to scale up the global response.

At a recent event honouring the latest winner of the World Food Prize, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also stressed that innovative approaches and technologies as well as a strong political will from countries are essential to combat hunger. He also highlighted a number of UN initiatives including the Movement to Scale Up Nutrition and the Zero Hunger Challenge, aiming to ensure access to food, end childhood stunting and double the productivity and income of smallholder farmers.

“In our world of plenty, no one should live in hunger. No child should have his growth stunted by malnutrition. No child should have her opportunity for a better life curtailed even before she is born, because her mother was undernourished,” Ban Ki-moon said.

Kindly note that the meeting was originally scheduled to take place on 1 November, but had to be postponed due to the impact of hurricane Sandy. Please make sure to check back on this website for updates regarding the new date for the meeting: UN Economic and Social Council website on Special Meeting on Food Security and Nutrition

For more information:

Online forum on Facebook – Building a Future Free of Hunger

Video – Help Build a Future Free of Hunger

The Second Committee of the UN General Assembly