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How to End Hunger

Ending hunger and poverty in a sustainable way, as world leaders promised to do last September, is morally right, politically beneficial, and economically feasible. The upcoming High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development presents an important opportunity to establish the way forward.

ISTANBUL/KUALA LUMPUR – Last September, world leaders made a commitment to end hunger by 2030, as part of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It sounds like a massive undertaking. In fact, the world already produces enough food to feed everyone. So why does the problem persist?

Poverty and hunger are intimately connected, which is why the SDGs target elimination of both. For someone living at the World Bank’s poverty line of $1.90 per day, food would account for some 50-70% of income. The Bank estimates that almost four-fifths of the world’s poor live in rural areas, though those areas account for less than half of the world’s population. The obvious conclusion is that raising rural incomes sustainably is required to eradicate hunger.

That will not be easy. Most developing countries nowadays are burdened by high rates of unemployment and underemployment. And with current economic prospects bleak, especially given low commodity prices, and insistence on fiscal austerity continuing in most places, downward pressure on rural incomes is likely to worsen.

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