An International Perspective – Hunger on a Global Scale - Capital Area Food Bank
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An International Perspective – Hunger on a Global Scale

By Sneha Raghavan September 18, 2013

snehaGlobal hunger is an urgent problem. Despite the seeming abundance of food, factors such as climate change, rising energy prices, increased demand for meat, a burgeoning global middle class, and rapid population growth are making it difficult to provide safe, nutritious food in the years ahead – especially for the world’s poorest people.  According to the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) LINK, about one-in-nine people routinely go hungry and as many as one-in-three people currently suffer from micronutrient deficiency — they have enough calories but lack  specific (and important) vitamins or minerals.
A forthcoming report from the Center for Global Development  will suggest that the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) needs to shift into a higher gear to minimize expected food shortages and reduce these unacceptably high levels of hunger.  As the world’s leading global institution dedicated to raising agricultural productivity, the FAO can have a much larger impact on reducing global food insecurity if it maximizes its potential.
The FAO is an agency of the United Nations with the express mission to reduce and defeat hunger. Since its inception in 1945, the FAO has served as a source of expertise, helping developing countries modernize agriculture, improve forestry and fisheries, ensure good nutrition and food security. The FAO acts as a forum where nations can meet to negotiate agreements and debate policy about food production and related issues.
And while the FAO doesn’t deliver loaves of bread or cartons of milk, the FAO plays a critical – though wonkier – role in fighting global hunger: it provides data on global food production and consumption, offers early warning systems related to impending times of famine, generates information about disease and pests threatening crops, and reports on agricultural trends across the globe.
While these services may seem less important than flying a plane full of food to famine-stricken countries, this information is critical to anticipate and meet the nutritional needs of the world’s growing population. Without it, global organizations and independent nations would not be able to meet and address hunger.
According to the experts who authored the upcoming CGD report, food deprivation is already unacceptably high and slated to get much worse in the years ahead without leadership from FAO. The FAO cannot solve all of the food security problems going forward —but it is impossible to consume food that is not produced, so this should be the first order of business for the agency. The FAO’s global perspective and cross-border reach, the respect and trust it continues to enjoy in developing countries, and its network of agricultural and economics experts are the FAO’s strongest assets. The FAO should leverage these assets and lean in towards its strengths – by doing so, the organization can make a decisive impact on global hunger.
While we all work to make an impact on hunger in our local communities, it’s also important to step back and occasionally consider a worldwide view. Everyday the world gets smaller and more interconnected – and everyday it becomes clearer that we are part of one global community, our futures intertwined and subject to the same forces.
The Center for Global Development will release the new report on FAO and the ways it can better address food insecurity in October of this year. Until then, more information about food and agriculture can be found on the CGD website. For more information about the upcoming FAO report, please contact CGD.