The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the associated 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted by the UN in 2050, signal a comprehensive and transformative agenda for sustainable development. In February 2019, the Brussels Briefing 54 – organised by CTA, the European Commission (DEVCO), the ACP Secretariat and Concord – brought together speakers and participants, from a range of sectors and organisations, to discuss progress towards SDG2 and what needs to be done to ensure this goal is achieved by 2030.
The UN currently lists 3,782 multi-stakeholder partnerships working towards achieving the SDGs, including every size and nature of organisation, from government agencies to NGOs, private sector multinationals and local cooperatives. The diversity of these partnerships represents the level of global engagement with sustainable development, but it also presents a challenge in terms of monitoring the progress towards the SDGs. The Brussels Briefing in February brought some of these stakeholders together to discuss this challenge. In doing so, the Briefing helped to promote the exchange of views and experiences in regards to tracking progress towards SDG2; best practices for developing partnerships to implement SDG2; and the next steps for the delivery of SDG2.
Achieving SDG2 will have positive impacts for the world’s economies, health, education, equality and ecosystems. These outcomes are linked to a number of other SDGs, including SDG1: No poverty, SDG3: Good health and well-being, SDG5: Gender equality, SDG8: Decent work and economic growth, SDG12: Responsible consumption and production, and SDG15: Life on land. The interconnected nature of the SDGs demands close collaboration between sectors and industries, from human health and social justice to ecosystems health and climate change.
With the availability of fresh water and agricultural land shrinking, and the growing population and impacts of climate change placing increased pressure on already stressed food systems; governments, civil society and the public must work together to address these global issues. In turn, a better nourished population will be more productive, place less stress on health systems and more able to mitigate risks.
Cross-sector collaboration for wide-reaching impact
As Chair of the UN High-level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition, Patrick Caron, highlighted in his presentation, "SDG 2: Eradicate hunger", ensure food security and nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture, incorporates several different elements. Hunger, food and nutrition security, and sustainable agriculture are all separate targets that overlap and interlink, but achieving one does not necessarily ensure that the others will also be implemented.
In fact, Caron explained that SDG2 breaks down into five related goals to: end hunger; end all forms of malnutrition; double agricultural productivity and the incomes of small-scale producers; ensure sustainable food production systems; and maintain genetic diversity. The diverse range of situations addressed in SDG2 require diverse solutions, explained Caron, stressing that local initiatives and innovations are needed to build and strengthen social capital so that communities are able to respond to these challenges.
Despite vast evidence that there is enough food to feed the global population, nearly 800 million people are currently going hungry. Eliminating hunger and all forms of malnutrition is about more than just increasing food production; it encompasses the need to improve the quality and nutritional value of food, raise incomes and strengthen food systems to ensure that everyone has access to healthy food. The most effective means to end hunger and malnutrition therefore require social protection measures, which seek to increase the incomes of poor households and their ability to manage risks, such as targeted nutrition initiatives and pro-poor investments in productive activities.