What will it take to win the battle against hunger?

Getting back on track: It can be done!

Hunger is the most basic form of inequality. After years of progress, food insecurity is growing again. More than 821 million people are food insecure. Sustainable Development Goal 2 – zero hunger – must be put back on track. In a context of scarcer resources and limited programmatic approaches, and with a fragmented international architecture, concrete and substantial actions are needed. If not, hundreds of millions of rural people will be left behind. What changes are needed in the global architecture? What is needed to scale up investments from the public and private sectors? What transformative approaches can effectively address the interrelated issues associated with food security – extreme poverty, fragility, climate change and conflict – and how do we bring them to scale?

Key points

  • Increased fragmentation in development assistance is hampering the battle against hunger.
  • More investment is essential for eradicating hunger.
  • It is important to work with the marginalised and hungry to target action.
  • Food insecurity is exacerbated by conflict.
  • More research is needed to understand the extent of the hunger problem.


After years of progress, food insecurity is growing again, and now affects more than 821 million people. Sustainable Development Goal 2 – to reach zero hunger by 2030 – must be put back on track. Concrete action is needed, or millions of rural people will suffer. The problems are particularly acute among indigenous populations. Some 370 million such people and small farmers depend on lands that are being taken away from them by mining industries and business corporations. Here the mantra ‘ensuring no one is left behind’ remains just that – a mantra. EU Member States, multilateral foundations, European institutions and NGOs are all trying to help. But the layers of intervention in agriculture are far too complex. It is particularly difficult to coordinate aid among the plethora of international and financial organisations. Analysis of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa found more than 72 % of development assistance is not synchronised. The answer is not to get rid of a foundation, but to make the best of what there is. While countries such as Ethiopia and Rwanda have fared well, Somalia and South Sudan are deemed to be seriously off-track. This is particularly frustrating taking account of the fact that investment in food is not difficult. The right crop takes just one season, which means that ten years should be sufficient to eradicate hunger. Meanwhile, “investment, investment and investment” remains essential for zero hunger. Funding must not only be sustainable in the long term, but must also address short-term challenges and must be channelled into land and expertise to help rural populations. One way to tackle the severest food insecurity is to target action with the help of people who are hungry and have been side-lined. Improving technology and increasing productivity goes some way, but inclusion and sustainability are also needed. Africa has access to technology, but issues not being addressed are how food markets can be involved and how policies should be designed to stimulate these markets. Technology can be a solution, but is not accessible for the very poor. Most problems of food insecurity are caused by droughts, floods and climate change, but technologies that can combat these are not in place. Conflict is another factor in food insecurity, but no amount of technology can help a war-torn state. Research is key to understanding not only where the people suffering from food poverty are, but also what can be done to alleviate the problem. Resources must be targeted where needs are greatest. The Bill Gates Foundation will carry out 50 country surveys by 2030 to clarify food distribution problems, excess food waste and other issues.


Although developing the rural sector is complicated by agriculture being portrayed as backward, much of the population would stay on the land to improve their income and food security.

Organised by


Anya Sitaram
Founding Director and Executive Producer
Rockhopper TV
Gilbert Houngbo
President - IFAD
International Fund for Agricultural Development
Agnes Kalibata
President - AGRA (Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa)
Nick Austin
Director, Agricultural Development - Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Victoria Tauli-Corpuz
UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous People
United Nations
Paul Conal Winters
Associate Vice-President, Strategy and Knowledge Department
International Fund for Agricultural Development
Ismahane Elouafi
Director General
International Center for Biosaline Agriculture