Global food insecurity: Europe's answer
World Food Day The EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development says Europe needs to lead from the front in developing new solutions to meet the challenge of rising global hunger.
Global hunger is on the rise - again.
After a steady decline in the number of chronically undernourished people from about 900 million in 2000 to 777 million in 2015, the numbers went up in 2016. The United Nation's recent world food security report is sobering: last year, 815 million people faced serious hunger. This is 38 million more people than in 2015 – an increase the equivalent of the population of Canada or more than half the population of the UK.
As a result, ending hunger and all forms of malnutrition by 2030 - one of the objectives of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by all world leaders - is becoming a moving target.
Europe's part to play
To meet this challenge, we need to focus as never before on ending food insecurity in every region of the world. Europe is ready to play its part. Food security remains a fundamental objective of the EU's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), both within the EU and globally.
Within the EU, we invest in viable food production, sustainable management of natural resources and balanced territorial development. Furthermore, over the past 25 years, the CAP has undergone several reforms which have removed its trade and market distorting features. We make sure that our impact on the growth of agricultural sectors in developing countries remains marginal, and wherever possible, beneficial.
Globally, we promote multilateralism, continuing to advocate for a trading system which is open, rules-based and fair trade. The EU remains, by far, the world largest importer of agricultural products from Least Developed Countries (LDCs) – up to €3.4 billion in 2016. We import more from LDCs than the US, China, Japan, Russia and Canada combined.
Food security is also at the centre of EU support programmes in developing countries, like the 25 million euro "Fit for Market" programme which assists local producers and farmers' organisations in accessing domestic and international vegetable markets.
We also need to boost investment in LDCs to give them the tools to tackle food insecurity themselves. Take Africa: with a population expected to double by 2050 from 1.2 billion people to 2.4 billion predominantly young people, the continent needs to create 18 million new jobs each year up to 2035.
The agri-food sector is central to achieving food security in Africa, but also crucially important for its capacity to provide jobs and growth in rural areas, thus tackling one of the root causes of irregular migration.
This is why Europe is promoting responsible agri-food investment in Africa, investments which avoid land grabbing, pay a decent return to farmers and recognise their central role in the food value chain.
Working with Africa
We are working together with our African Union partners to create an enabling environment for the private sector to invest and contribute to food security, and deliver growth and jobs both in Europe and in Africa. This is one of the key elements on the agenda of the EU-Africa Summit which takes place in November this year.
Fighting hunger is a global challenge, and by coordinating our action at global level - particularly when it comes to agriculture and trade policy - I believe we can make real progress. Europe is well equipped to lead from the front, and we are committed to doing so.
Hunger has no place in the 21st Century.