Working Together to Feed the World and Protect the Planet

April 22, 2013
Kyndra Eide, Peace CorpsFarmers in Boti, a small community in the Eastern region of Ghana, take small tree seedlings to their farm to plant. The trees will provide soil stability, increase water quality, and provide a habitat for beekeeping.

Today, nearly one in eight people in the world do not have enough food to eat.

And studies predict that as diets change and the world’s population grows to 9 billion people by 2050, we will need to increase food production by at least 60 percent to meet the global demand for food, all in the face of increasing pressures on natural resources.

Forty-three years ago, the first Earth Day celebration began a movement to create awareness about the need to protect the world’s natural resources so they can be enjoyed by generations to come. Since then, governments and civil society have worked together to address environmental challenges and improve our understanding of how we can help protect the world’s natural resources.

Today’s celebration of Earth Day is an opportunity to remind ourselves and our partners of the connection between our environment, agriculture, and food and nutrition security and how we can work together to end world hunger and undernutrition. Although we still face environmental challenges, our ability to apply scientific innovation and technology in agriculture and work in partnership across different sectors can help us protect our planet and end hunger and undernutrition at the same time.

Feed the Future, the U.S. Government’s global hunger and food security initiative, is working with a variety of partners to meet the dual challenges of growing more while conserving natural resources.

  • We help smallholder farmers adopt improved technologies and management practices that can lead to more resilient crops, higher yields, and increased incomes while encouraging sustainable and equitable access to and use of natural resources like land and water.
     
  • We support scientific innovation and technology in agriculture and nutrition to help meet the challenge of growing more food with less water while helping farmers adapt to changes in climate and rainfall. As Secretary of State John Kerry has said, “We know that when managed well, water allows economies to thrive and children to grow up healthy.”
     
  • We also support partner governments to implement policy reforms and establish regulatory systems that promote open markets and science-based regulations, helping to increase agricultural productivity and reduce poverty.
     
  • We actively support policy coordination among major donors, strategic partners, and multilateral organizations through our food and nutrition security diplomacy efforts. For example, the U.S. Government helped guide the United Nations Committee on World Food Security process to develop and adopt Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests. And we are participating in the follow-on effort to develop voluntary principles of responsible agricultural investment. The U.S. Government is also the largest contributor to organizations like the UN World Food Program, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, and the International Fund for Agricultural Development, which each work to combat food insecurity and undernutrition.

Feed the Future is doing all this in partnership with private sector, civil society, strategic partners and other U.S. Government initiatives that are working to build the resilience of communities vulnerable to hunger and the impacts of climate change.

Through our collaboration with Feed the Future strategic partners, like Brazil, India and South Africa, we leverage the expertise of emerging economic leaders and scale up joint efforts to achieve food and nutrition security goals. Our partnership with Brazil is helping increase the income of small holder farmers in rural areas of Honduras and providing renewable energy to 10,000 families in remote areas of the country.

Feed the Future is also part of the U.S. contribution to the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, an effort by the G8, partner governments, and the private sector to reduce poverty and undernutrition in Sub-Saharan Africa by expanding agricultural production and incomes to help lift 50 million people out of poverty by 2022.

Making Progress

Together, these investments contribute to improved health, food security and nutrition and increase the stability of developing countries, while simultaneously supporting responsible management of natural resources.

By working to address the root causes of hunger, poverty and undernutrition in a sustainable way and with a variety of partners, Feed the Future is helping build resilience and equipping communities around the world with the tools and the knowledge to help them break the cycle of poverty and hunger.

At a conference in Dublin, Ireland, last week on the intersection of food and nutrition security and climate change, I highlighted that we are already seeing encouraging results and are committed to continuing to work with our partners to end hunger and undernutrition.

Together, we can help take care of our planet and make our generation’s legacy one of shared progress and prosperity.

Learn more about Feed the Future’s work in environmentally-sensitive development. Follow the initiative on Twitter for updates or find Feed the Future on Facebook for photos.