First, I think it's important to acknowledge the obvious enormity of this question. Hunger - sustained lack of access to enough food to fulfil one's nutritional needs - is a complex issue that is wrapped in layers of history and systems. Food has been weaponized since the beginning of humanity, and I think the first step is to understand that world hunger is not inevitable and so it CAN end. We already possess the knowledge and the resources to end hunger, but lack the political will and the centralization of human rights and dignity; now we need to use our assets in the most effective way to make positive change.
While providing food to people who need it immediately is a critical band-aid in cases of acute hunger, we need to address the causes of hunger including inequitable food systems, climate change and unadaptable agriculture, poor governance, conflict and marginalization, scarce access to clean water, lack of hygiene and sanitation practices, denial of education, and poverty. These issues are inextricably linked, and all solutions must take into account their effect on each other. As well, we need to focus on the nexus of sustainable food systems and necessary nutrition; often the latter is forgotten, and the health consequences for generations can be severe.
When tackling these vast problems, stakeholders from multiple fields and disciplines must come together. Policy makers and enforcers, researchers, community advocates, and field experts must work together, and the work must be guided from the outset by those who are affected themselves. If local practices are not only considered but are the basis for our work, effects will not be accepted and therefore not sustainable. By using an asset-based community development approach, we centre people’s critical experiences and build capacity, lessening the dangerous ‘saviour complex’ that often comes with development work.
Research must be open and available, and the resources needed for creating or implementing innovations based on said research must be more available and not politically tied. Sharing knowledge and expertise needs to be incentivized, access to funding should be much more equitable and transparently managed, and working collectively needs to be the standard to allow for less redundancy and better use of human and financial assets.
We must also not ignore the importance of cultural and societal influence. If we galvanize enough people to use their voices – and wallets – to make it clear that ending world hunger is a priority for them, then we can compel world leaders to see their citizens going hungry as not only a human rights blight on their country, but also one which will see them forced out of power.
While ending world hunger is of course not an easy task, and few people even with the best of intentions have the same approaches, it’s not baselessly idealistic to say that within our lifetime we absolutely can ensure that no person goes hungry again. In this work, every moment is critical – so if you haven’t yet joined the fight, welcome.