Much of the online content we read about food focuses on what to eat, what not to eat, and where to eat. Unfortunately, society is still experiencing a massive divide on those who have those options, and those who do not.
The number of people affected by hunger and food insecurity across the world only continues to worsen as an international concern. Food security is an umbrella term that means a lack of access and availability to sufficient and nutritious food, and it can result in hunger, malnutrition, and possibly starvation.
Food security is defined as “the access for all people at all times to enough food for a health, active life” (FAO, 1996).
Food self-sufficiency is defined as being able to meet consumption needs (particularly for staple food crops) from own production rather than by buying or importing.
Over 821 million people around the globe are still regularly undernourished, which means more than 1 in 9 of the world’s population do not get sufficient food to eat on a daily basis. (World Food Program, 2019).
Unfortunately, we’re seeing a return to levels of food insecurity and hunger from a decade ago. Studies project that the growing statistics around those affected by hunger indicate that the world will not complete its proposed goal of realising Zero Hunger by 2030. This significant reversal in progress is a clear warning for all of us that more must be done and quickly if the Sustainable Development Goal of Zero Hunger is to be achieved at all.
Global hunger is a challenge that stems from many issues—both environmental and political. We need to forge a path for resolution through the development of better food production systems, sustainable education to stakeholders in the system, and through conflict resolution of civil unrest. This global process requires efforts on both international and local levels, as well as the support and cooperation of us all to create sustainable solutions and ensure food security for all.
Author: The Global Goals | (The Global Goals, 2017)
Reflecting on the most recent statistics surrounding global hunger is a sobering experience for anyone.
Unfortunately, extreme hunger and malnutrition continue to be a huge barrier to development in many countries. This is often a direct consequence of environmental degradation and the loss of biodiversity, as well as drought from climate change and human influences.
There are silver linings on the global horizon though. With rapid economic growth and increased agricultural productivity around the world, the number of undernourished people has almost been halved in the past 20 years. In addition, many developing countries that used to suffer from hunger and famine can now meet their populations’ nutritional needs. For example, Central and East Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean have all made significant progress to end extreme hunger. (UNDP Laton America and the Caribbean, n.d.)
Despite some progress being made, agricultural production will still need to increase in production by an estimated 50% by 2050 in order to meet the needs of a growing population. In extreme cases, fragile food production systems will lead to starvation or even famine.
What are we doing to help meet these demands and to end this suffering? Read on to find out.
Author: Zero Hunger | (Zero Hunger, 2015)
The aim of the Sustainable Development Goal 2 is to end all forms of hunger and malnutrition to ensure that people all around the world, and especially children, have access to sufficient and nutritious food all year around. The Zero Hunger initiative as outlined in the video is the United Nations global campaign intended to realise this goal.
Hunger and malnutrition have lasting consequences and can seriously impact the physical and mental health of people—particularly in children who are experiencing their formative years. Many children who suffer from malnutrition are also affected by stunted growth, intellectual diminishment, and are more susceptible to other health problems and early death. (World Health Organization, 2020)
How can we make this food security a reality? This comprehensive vision requires international investment and cooperation to ensure the proper infrastructure and technology is available to improve agricultural productivity in areas with high food insecurity.
It also involves promoting sustainable agriculture, supporting local, small-scale farmers and equal access to land, technology and markets. About 26% of workers around the world are employed in agriculture. That’s over a quarter of the global workforce! (The World Bank, 2020)
As you watched in "Rethink Zero" - the Zero Hunger Challenge, transforming our food systems is a necessary step to transform our world. The critical path to ending malnutrition in all of its forms have been identified by the United Nations in its Zero Hunger Challenge depicted here. (UN Zero Hunger Challenge, n.d.)
While the world attempts to make great strides in tackling the problems around hunger and malnourishment, the fight is far from over. People across the world suffer from the effects of not enough food every day. As the global population continues to increase, so do the demands for food. This issue is more important than ever, and it’s created the need to establish sustainable, lasting solutions in our food supply to ensure all people have proper access to daily nutrition.
Author: Petrina Darrah | (Darrah, 2019)
As overwhelming as the global situation is, each of us individually really can make a difference if we’re united in our sustainable goals. For example, Nicole Perez; the U.S. Youth Observer to the UN visited the Food and Agriculture Organization's (FAO) headquarters in Rome along with 160 students from around the world for the world’s first #zerohackathon. The event was hosted by the U.S. Mission to the UN in Rome and the Italian Society for International Organization (SIOI) to raise awareness around the global cause for ending hunger.
The students gathered for two days to brainstorm solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges concerning hunger, agriculture, sustainability, and climate change. See what Nicole Perez learned about these challenges and discover what the FAO is doing to help achieve Zero Hunger.
Author: USUN Rome | (USUN Rome, 2016)
#HealthyNotHungry is another social media campaign organised through a joint effort by the World Food Programme, Project Everyone, UNICEF and others that aims to speed up progress towards a healthy and equitable world.
The campaign aligns with the Zero Hunger goals to improve health through its five main ‘ingredients’ to eliminate hunger:
Read more about #HealthyNotHungry below.
Author: World Food Program Insight | (World Food Programme, 2017)
There are many types of programs around the world that aim to assist with creating lasting food security in the areas that need it. Volunteers are able to be part of the fight against hunger by supporting the efforts of sustainable agriculture and by taking part in community development programs. Watch the video below to learn more about how you can take an active role in reducing food waste.
Author: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations | ("GI Market food", n.d.)
Don’t forget to check out the above campaigns too and get involved to contribute your part to ending world hunger.Back to Top
Despite the fact that, statistically, Australia is one of the most developed countries in the world due to its per capita GDP of $1450 billion USD (in 2019), not everyone has the option to choose their food or can count on three meals a day. (Trading Economics, n.d)
Approximately 75% of Australians believe the country is not affected by poverty and hunger. But in reality, millions go hungry every year. (Busicchia, 2013)
Author: The Age & Sydney Morning Herald | (The Age & Sydney Morning Herald, 2017)
Food insecurity is a reality for an increasing number of people today. Australia’s national food bank relief service, Foodbank, published a 2019 Hunger Report that revealed over one in five Australians (21% of the population) suffered from food insecurity in the previous year; a situation that meant they had run out of food and been unable to buy more. (Foodbank, 2019)
The infographic below highlights more of the report's findings for how hunger and food insecurity affects those directly in Australia. (Foodbank, 2019)
Food insecurity and hunger in Australia is attributed to pressures related to the high cost of living. Sydney, for example, ranks 37nd in the 2020 Numbeo cost of living survey, with a price index of 66.68 (against New York City). This index is a relative indicator of the cost of consumer goods prices, including groceries, transportation, restaurants, and utilities. (Numbeo, n.d.)
A general high cost of living across the country only creates increasing inequality that locks the vulnerable into a cycle of poverty. The demographics mostly hit by this cycle are the aged, single households, and the ‘working poor.’ Additionally, about 70% of young people experiencing homeless, from mid-teens to mid-20s, also suffer from food insecurity. (McKay et al, 2019)
These statistics can seem at odds among a population that is so health-conscious and following a restricted calorie intake!
Foodbank operates by channelling 70% of surplus food from the food and grocery industry into welfare networks. The organisation depends on volunteers to help operate warehouses across the country. Currently, they provide food to more than 815,000 Australians every month, which is critical when the number of people seeking food relief from charities increased by 22% in the last year. (Foodbank, 2019)
Foodbank supports the Sustainable Development Goal 2 as part of its efforts, and believe every Australian should have enough safe and nutritious food to thrive. Learn more about Foodbank’s mission and how you can support its efforts in feeding vulnerable Australians here:
Author: Foodbank | (Foodbank, 2019)
It may be shocking to learn, but over one-third of all food that is produced is wasted. That’s 33% of edible, nutritious food that is thrown out—the average Australian wastes about 200kg of food a year. Melbourne alone generates 900,000 tonnes of food waste each year, which is enough food to feed 2 million people! (Candy, Sheridan & Carey, 2016)
Not only is uneaten food a waste, but it can also be a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions, including carbon dioxide and methane. Greenhouse gas emission research undertaken in 2018 reported that almost a quarter—24%—of food’s emissions comes from supplies lost in supply chains or wasted by consumers. Most of these losses are a result of bad storage and poor handling techniques; a lack of refrigeration; and natural spoilage in the transport process. The other 9% is from food thrown away by both retailers and consumers. (Ritchie, 2020)
So, food wastage accounts for around 6% of the world's total global greenhouse gas emissions. (Ritchie, 2020) This is a significant environmental impact from one source. To put these statistics in the context of international emissions, the rates match those of the world’s third-largest country in 2019, India. Only China (21%) and the United States (13%) emitted more. (Blokhin, 2019)
Consider how much a difference we could make if we collectively re-imagined and redistributed from our food supply system. Some ways food waste can be reduced include:
You’ve no doubt heard the term ‘carbon footprint.’ Well, each of us also creates a large food waste footprint. How big do you think yours might be? Watch the video below to find out more.
Author: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations | (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2013)
Australia and developing countries benefit from international agricultural research and development supported by The Crawford Fund. The Australian-based fund invests in agricultural research and development. This investment and research benefit both Australia and other partner countries in terms of helping farmers to develop more sustainable farming practices and improve food security.
The Crawford Fund works hard to improve food security in Australia and involves the help of students, volunteers, doctors, and trainers. The CF recognises today’s challenge to provide growing populations with safe and nutritious food in an environmentally sustainable manner. The CF also actively support national campaigns to encourage communities to help achieve these food goals.
Author: The Crawford Fund | (The Crawford Fund, n.d.)
Become an activist and join the global effort to reduce food waste to improve our environment and to help others experience better food security. Find your inspiration here!
Author: Food Fighter | (Food Fighter, 2018)
For additional resources and to discover more about what is going on in Australia to increase food security for its citizens, visit The Archibull Prize below.
Author: The Archibull Prize | (The Archibull Prize, n.d.)