The upcoming generation has the opportunity to claim a first in the history of mankind if it can rise to become the “Zero Hunger Generation,” according to Food and Agriculture Organization director-general José Graziano Da Silva.
“The world has declared: ‘Our goal is to end poverty and hunger,’” he told world leaders and other attendees of the United Nations Third International Conference on Financing for Development.
de Silva notes that about 70% of world poverty occurs outside of urban areas, which typically fall through the nets created by traditional social security systems. Because of that, rural development should be a pillar of any successful hunger initiative.
The UN says another $267 billion annually would need to be invested in both rural and urban efforts for poor people across the world to gain appropriate access to food and means to improve their livelihoods. That’s the equivalent of about $160 for each person who lives in extreme poverty – a fraction of the burden that malnutrition places on economies all over the world, de Silva says.
According to a recent report by the FAO, the World Food Programme and the International Fund for Agricultural Development, cash transfers would allow poor families access to more diverse and healthier diets. Currently, private investment alone cannot break entrenched cycles of rural poverty. Also, agriculture in these areas could prove much more efficient and effective if public sector investments could bolster rural infrastructure, health and education in these areas.
The report also suggests the potential for a snowball effect. In other words, as investments to abolish extreme hunger will ramp up productivity and earnings, allowing people in poverty to set about breaking those cycles.
“We know what it takes,” he says. “We know what it costs. We can be the Zero Hunger Generation, paving the way to a sustainable and inclusive future that leads no one behind.”