Following on from last week’s look at the first Sustainable Development Goal (SDG), the second SDG is ‘Zero Hunger’. This goal not only looks at the current level of hunger around the world but at the security of food sources going into a future that will see a projected population rise of more than two billion people in the next 3 to 4 decades and climate change.

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Far too many people in the world are undernourished. Globally, one in nine people are undernourished, with two-thirds of that total coming from Asian countries. Whilst those classed as hungry is reducing in southern parts of Asia, there is still thought to be over 281 million people that are undernourished- over one-quarter of the global total. The number is rising in western Asia however, most likely due to the number of conflicts continuing in Middle Eastern countries.


As you can probably guess, the vast majority of those living in hunger are in developing countries. The UN estimates that around 13% of the population living in developing countries are hungry with some predictions putting the rate as high as 23% for much of sub-Saharan Africa.

Hunger in children prevents natural development. According to stats from the UN, one in four of children around the world suffers from stunted growth linked to malnourishment- in developing countries it can be as high as one in three children. What’s even worse is that 3.1 million children die from poor nutrition- nearly half of deaths in children under 5.

Food Security

It is one goal in itself to eliminate world hunger, but ensuring that food resources are maintained for a future that will have two billion more mouths to feed (by 2050) whilst also dealing with the impacts of climate change, such as droughts, varying and unpredictable rainfalls, and more extreme weather.

Agriculture is also vital economically for millions of people. It’s the single largest employment sector in the world, providing livelihoods for an estimated 40% of today’s global population. It’s the largest source of income and jobs for the rural poor- without it there would likely be many more living in poverty and malnourished!

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Crop diversity has also dropped enormously since the 1900s. The Green Revolution in 1970s was a huge player in this as Western agricultural methods were used in a land that didn’t suit the conditions of Western crops and led to fewer and fewer varieties of crops that were much more suited to the environment.

Targets of ‘Zero Hunger’

Like the first goal and many of the other SDGs, targets run up until 2030, at which point new goals will be designed to match the needs of people at that time. The targets of this goal include both combating world hunger as well as developing agriculture and agricultural practices that will ensure future food security for people all over the world.

Targets of Goal 2 are:

  • By 2030, end hunger and ensure access by all people, in particular the poor and people in vulnerable situations, including infants, to safe, nutritious and sufficient food all year round
  • By 2030, end all forms of malnutrition, including achieving, by 2025, the internationally agreed targets on stunting and wasting in children under 5 years of age, and address the nutritional needs of adolescent girls, pregnant and lactating woman and older persons
  • By 2030, double the agricultural productivity and incomes of small-scale food producers, in particular woman, indigenous peoples, family farmers, pastoralists and fishers, including through secure and equal access to land, other productive resources and inputs, knowledge, financial services, markets and opportunities for value addition and non-farm employment
  • By 2030, ensure sustainable food production systems and implement resilient agricultural practices that increase productivity and production, that help maintain ecosystems, that strengthen capacity for adaptation to climate change, extreme weather, drought, flooding, and other disasters and that progressively improve land and soil quality
  • By 2020, maintain the genetic diversity of seeds cultivated plants and domesticated animals and their related wild species, including through soundly managed and diversified seed and plant banks at the national, regional and international levels, and promote access to and fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilisation of genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge, as internationally agreed
  • Increase investment, including through enhanced international cooperation, in rural infrastructure, agricultural research and extension services, technology development and plant and livestock gene banks in order to enhance agricultural productive capacity in developing countries, in particular least developed countries
  • Correct and prevent trade restrictions and distortions in world agricultural markets, including through the parallel elimination of all forms of agricultural export subsidies and all export measures with equivalent effect, in accordance with the mandate of the Doha Development Round
  • Adopt measure to ensure the proper functioning of food commodity markets and their derivatives and facilitate timely access to market information, including on food reserves, in order to help limit extreme food price volatility

World Food Programme

The World Food Programme (WFP) is an international non-governmental organisation (NGO) that is set up to help offer nationally-tailored assistance and capacity development to strengthen individual government capacities. It also has a huge number of vehicles that can deliver urgent food assistance to anywhere in the world; each year they distribute 12.6 billion rations to people that are undernourished.


World Map of Hunger from the WFP


They are also very busy in countries affected by conflict. Two-thirds of their work is in conflict areas where poverty and malnourishment rise very quickly. It’s in these areas where people are three times more likely to be malnourished than countries at a similar point of development but without conflict.

What You Can Do?

It depends where you’re reading this I guess. One thing, and perhaps the easiest thing, we can all do is reduce our environmental impact and our own impact on climate change as that will be a huge factor in ensuring food security in the future. On the UN website they have the ‘Lazy Person’s Guide to Saving the World‘; a guide on how you can reduce your environmental footprint by not even leaving the sofa! You might think that you will have no impact but each small change adds up.

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