The unfinished agenda: Perspectives on overcoming hunger, poverty and environmental degradation
This book brings together briefs and articles generated by the 2020 Vision initiative that remain highly relevant to the ongoing dialog and debate and, given the nature of the topics addressed, are likely to remain so for some time to come.
The International Food Policy Research Institute has always held fast to the goal of generating policy information that will enable the world to feed its people sustainably, but in the early 1990s a world free of hunger and poverty looked a long way off. At that time it was found that global poverty and food insecurity had fallen from their levels 20 years earlier but remained severe and persistent problems. Moreover, it was troubling to see considerable disagreement on the magnitude and nature of the world’s food, agricultural and environmental problems with no long-term vision or consensus about the steps required to feed the world, alleviate poverty and protect the natural resource base. So in 1993, in collaboration with partners around the world, an initiative called A 2020 Vision for Food, Agriculture, and the Environment was launched, to develop a shared vision and consensus, to generate information and to encourage debate and action on these topics. The 2020 Vision initiative undertakes these activities in pursuit of the ultimate goal of achieving a world where every person has access to sufficient food to sustain a healthy and productive life; where malnutrition is absent; and where food originates from efficient, effective and low-cost food systems that are compatible with sustainable use of natural resources.
Today it is seen that some parts of the world have made great strides toward a situation of sustainable food security, others are inching toward it and still others are moving away. This book brings together briefs and articles generated by the 2020 Vision initiative that remain highly relevant to the ongoing dialogue and debate and given the nature of the topics addressed, are likely to remain so for some time to come.
The initiative’s policy briefs present state-of-the-art information on key topics related to food security, poverty alleviation and sustainable resource management. Written by leading experts at IFPRI and around the world, these briefs draw upon a solid body of research. The initiative also publishes a periodic newsletter, 2020 News & Views; each issue carries a lead article on an emerging or “hot” topic related to sustainable food security and based on interviews with policymakers, policy analysts and experts. But these briefs and newsletters tend to have a short “shelf” life. Libraries usually do not catalogue them and they can easily get lost in the piles of papers on most people’s desks. These have been compiled in a book as a way of making them readily available for use in policy debates and actions.
Together these pieces offer a fairly comprehensive picture of the policy issues the world must address if it is to overcome poverty, hunger and environmental degradation. Achieving a world of sustainable food security involves policy actions in many related areas. Thus, readers will find in these pages discussions of nutrition and health problems, demographic changes, natural resources, microcredit, gender issues, globalisation and new technologies. Sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia are the sites of the world’s most severe food security problems and this book presents recent knowledge on these two specific regions.
The concluding chapter attempts to identify the most important policy actions required to achieve the 2020 Vision, based primarily on the knowledge presented in the rest of the book. At the international level, policies and institutions that guide globalisation and technological progress to benefit the poor and malnourished will be of critical importance. At the national and community levels, policy action must be tailored to the particular circumstances and the intended beneficiaries should be empowered to participate in policy design and implementation. Policies to strengthen the human resource through education, primary health care, and better nutrition should be given high priority, along with policies and institutions to facilitate access by low-income people to productive resources, fair and well-functioning markets and appropriate knowledge and technology. Good governance and an appropriate macroeconomic framework are also crucial.