G7 countries are called upon to invest in long-term solutions to fight hunger and malnutrition
Today, 20 million people are facing starvation in parts of Nigeria, Ethiopia, Yemen, South Sudan and Somalia. Globally, 2 billion people suffer from malnutrition in all its forms and almost 800 million remain food insecure. To achieve zero hunger by 2030, industrialized countries need to act now, not later. The G7 Summit in Taormina, Sicily, is the right platform for these countries to step forward and lead the way.
In 2015, at the G7 Summit in Elmau, Germany, the world’s seven major advanced economies (Germany, France, Italy, Japan, UK, Canada, the US and in an observational role: the European Union) committed to lifting 500 million people out of hunger and malnutrition by 2030. Contributing to more than half of the global economy, these seven countries have an enormous power and reach; for the same reason, they carry the heaviest responsibility towards fulfilling the UN Sustainable Development Goals set in 2015. The G7 is a forum for dialogue at the highest level, where leaders discuss the world’s major issues and try to rapidly devise and agree on solutions to them. This year, the Summit is hosted by the Italian Government, who has decided to bring back Food and Nutrition Security as a key priority of its agenda, in order to take forward the promises made in Elmau two years ago.
Short term solutions cost human lives
While nobody argues that progress has been made, it is undeniable that much more has to be done: as per the Global Hunger Index 2016, seven countries suffer from levels of hunger that are alarming. Due to insufficient data, 2016 scores could not be calculated for 13 countries but it is safe to assume that the situation is dramatically worrying for at least 10 of them.
The shocking images and reports that have been reaching us in the past months from Africa, unveil an unprecedented crisis that forcefully demands a different approach. The lack of strategic long term investments in food security and nutrition has resulted in prolonged and ongoing crisis. Communities are rarely able to recover from one crisis, before the next one hits, creating a vicious cycle from which no escape seems possible. It is a moral imperative to not choose short term emergency interventions over lasting resolutions, or the other way around – it is now the time for an integrated response. Investment in long term solutions that tackle the root causes of food crises is what is needed to prevent them from escalating into disasters, therefore also reducing the need for costly humanitarian responses.
The G7 countries had acknowledged way before Elmau that one of their priorities is the improvement of the nutrition conditions of rural small-holders and of the poorest among the poor. Time is long overdue to move from a formal acknowledgment to political commitment and concrete action. If we want to help millions of children to survive and reach their full potential, the only way ahead is to invest new resources on food security and nutrition along with wider resilience-building efforts, which help strengthen the livelihoods of people. It is clear that much of the responsibility to act is with the governments of the countries concerned. However this fact and the current challenging geopolitical landscape, cannot be used by the G7 as an excuse for not making commitments to address these acute and on-going emergencies.
We cannot afford inaction
Since months there have been discussions about the launch of the Taormina Initiative. The Taormina Initiative was foreseen as an instrument for countries to formally commit funds to achieve the target set in Elmau in 2015. Also, it was aimed to be a tool to contribute substantially to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), especially SDG 2 to end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture by 2030. It is unclear if the Taormina Initiative will be launched, but we cannot afford inaction. Millions of people around the world cannot afford to be told, once again, that something will be done, that something will change, that someone will help them.
We, as members of a group of committed international Civil Society Organisations working on development, sustainability and human rights issues, strongly call you, G7 countries, to keep your promises and suit your action to your words. Define clear steps how to reach the Elmau target and increase the current level of public development funds towards food security and nutrition, rights of smallholders, income opportunities in rural areas and sustainable integrated farming systems.
Now it is the time to deliver
We urge you to do your part in contributing to find durable political solutions to the root causes of famine including conflict, poor governance, inequalities and vulnerability to climate change, and to invest in longer term solutions to build resilience and improve food security and nutrition. This is the year, in Taormina, when you finally allocate budget to take forward the promises you made in the two previous G7 Summits.
Now it is the time to deliver. 800 million people are going to bed hungry each night. 2 billion people are suffering from malnutrition. They are depending on you to act now, not later. Step up to the challenge and prove in Taormina to the rest of the world that the G7 have the power and willingness to build a world with Zero Hunger, by 2030. It is still possible.
The text was co-authored with: