THE LATEST : Working Toward a World of Zero Hunger 

Working Toward a World of Zero Hunger

By Hannah Guedenet

#ZeroHunger. Even as a professional who has committed her career to finding sustainable solutions to ending hunger and ensuring better nutrition, that seems like a lofty, even unattainable, goal.

How can we make sure future generations don’t experience hunger? How do we reverse the tide on 821 million people that are currently malnourished? How do we stop the impacts of climate change? Thankfully, I think there are answers to these challenging questions that will help us reach that goal.

Think Outside the Box

Despite all the negative news headlines, we are seeing a rise in activism and conscious consumerism, a rise in our ability to think outside the box, that is pushing us to answer these questions in different ways.

We see more private sector companies taking the lead on improving our food systems. While traditionally the private sector is associated with selling snack foods or sugary sodas, there is a shift toward ensuring that the whole food system is functioning well – that farmers are growing a range of diverse, nutritious crops with climate-smart approaches, that consumers have the knowledge to make smart choices, and that companies make better decisions to reduce their impact on the environment.

The rise of female entrepreneurs, especially those working in agriculture, is helping to lead the way for innovation and more inclusive economic growth. Engaging women throughout the whole supply chain, and not just in production, makes the whole system stronger and more effective. In agriculture, there is a growing focus on incorporating a gender lens into crop breeding, product development, and service delivery to ensure that traits, qualities, and goods will meet the needs of female producers and consumers.

We also see countries stepping up to find their own right-fit solutions to escalating rates of obesity. Despite push back from food companies, Chile has passed front-of-the-package labeling that indicates foods that are high in fat and sugars. As a result, they have seen a wave of schoolchildren leading the way in changing behavior as they ask their parents to not send them to school with foods that have the ugly black label.

One Step at a Time

I’m encouraged by the people I see on the front lines, coming up with unique and viable answers to the questions I ask. Throughout my career, I have had the privilege to work with committed colleagues from many organizations who believe real solutions to hunger are possible. Breeders, economists, and nutritionists at HarvestPlus who are patiently improving staple crops to be more nutritious. Market systems experts at ACDI/VOCA who identify economic levers that make agriculture more productive and resilient. And in my local community, passionate advocates at the Crossroads Community Food Network who are making fresh, local, nutritious fruits and veggies accessible and affordable for my neighbors.

Maybe this is what it takes. Piece by piece, day by day, we develop, test, and refine ideas and solutions that will help people fill their plates, grow more nutritious food, and respond to the growing demands of climate change. And together, we will reach the attainable goal of #ZeroHunger.