Friday, October 12, 2012

Hunger: World Hunger Declines, but Progress Is Slow and Threatened by Unsustainable Use of Natural Resources

SOURCE Concern Worldwide US

2012 Global Hunger Index (GHI), launched today by International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Welthungerhilfe, and the international humanitarian organization Concern Worldwide, shows that progress in reducing the number of hungry people in the world has been tragically slow. According to the Index, world hunger remains serious while unsustainable use of land, water, and energy threaten the food security of the poorest and most vulnerable.

Launched in advance of World Food Day on October 16 th, the 2012 Index, "The Challenge of Hunger: Ensuring Sustainable Food Security under Land, Water, and Energy Stresses," analyzed the level of hunger in 120 countries and found that 20 face levels of hunger that are "alarming" or "extremely alarming." The majority of those countries are in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia . Burundi topped the list as the country facing the highest level of hunger, followed by Eritrea and Haiti . However, all regions have made progress against hunger, driving the global GHI score down 26 percent since 1990.

The 2012 Index focuses in particular on the effects that land, water, and energy stress have on global food security, particularly for the world's poorest people. To feed nine billion people—the projected world population in 2050—who will consume at the rate of 12 billion people if they follow the current consumption pattern of industrialized countries like the United States , it is clear that more food must be produced with fewer resources, and wasteful practices and policies must be eliminated.

"Agricultural production must increase to meet the demands of a growing and increasingly wealthy population," said Tom Arnold , Chief Executive Officer of Concern Worldwide. "Yet to avoid more stress on land, water, and energy resources, and to ensure that all have access to adequate food, that production must be sustainable and must prioritize the poor."

Higher food and oil prices have increased the number of international and national agricultural deals in recent years, with many of the leases and other agreements targeted at Sub-Saharan Africa where land rents are cheaper and regulatory systems are weaker. "Large-scale foreign investments in land should be closely monitored," said Welthungerhilfe President Bärbel Dieckmann. "Local organizations are needed to secure transparency and the participation of smallholder farmers whose livelihoods are impacted by land deals."

The Index lays out clear policy recommendations on how to use land, water, and energy for sustainable food security. These include improving governance of natural resources; scaling up technical approaches to food production and natural resource protection; and addressing the drivers of natural resource scarcity. Among these suggestions is to phase out subsidies for fuels and fertilizers, including the biofuel mandates of the United States and European Union, which are increasing prices and competition for land.

"If local, national, and international natural resource policies focus on sustainable, long-term gains, if policies are coordinated and tradeoffs among land, water, and energy policies are minimized, we can strengthen the global food system while preventing resource depletion," said Claudia Ringler , IFPRI

Deputy Division Director. "Such a shift to sustainable food security would benefit billions of people today and many more in future decades."