The Chicago Council on Global Affairs and The Rockefeller Foundation recently released the report Defining the Path to Zero Hunger in an Equitable World. Its authors highlight new solutions that can catalyze disruptive thinking to achieve a hunger-free future.
The report addresses some of the greatest challenges at the nexus of food security, climate, and humanitarian spaces. Focusing on three major obstacles — siloed approaches, myopic priorities, and top-down decision making—it provides recommendations to confront these hurdles and ultimately forge a vision of hope for a better future.
Intricate silos have long prevented stakeholders and institutions from sharing information, processes, and communication, the report states. Roger Thurow, Senior Fellow at the Chicago Council and a co-author, explains that these silos continually defy the experiences of the intended beneficiaries of development work. “Everything happens all at once,” he says.
“When you’re speaking with smallholder farmers, you see their lives are in no way siloed,” Thurow tells Food Tank. “They’re dealing with the climate issues, the soil issues, the water issues, all of the environmental issues, the crop diseases, the human diseases, their own issues of poverty.”
Catherine Bertini, Chicago Council Distinguished Fellow and The Rockefeller Foundation’s Managing Director for Global Nutrition Security, believes collaboration between agriculture and health sectors can serve as a first step in breaking down these silos.
“There’s never enough dialogue and interaction between the two. What we eat is absolutely essential to our wellbeing,” Bertini, a co-author of the report, tells Food Tank.
The authors call for the integration of development, humanitarian, and climate spaces with community. They also hope to see a change in aid infrastructure to dismantle competitive silos and encourage cooperation.
Bertini and Thurow believe that silos between humanitarian and development spaces amplify the focus on myopic priorities. In response, the report calls for a world in which resources gradually shift from crisis response to long-term resilience.
“We can and must deal with the acute humanitarian emergency crises, because that’s in front of us,” Thurow says. “But then there’s also this long-term, chronic nature of things. It’s often the acute crises that then lead to and exacerbate the chronic problems. You can’t take your eye off something in the distance as you do something up close.”
Sustained investments that prioritize community needs can help prevent some of the urgent emergencies, the authors believe. And community-led decision-making is a key objective in the report. Reorienting policies and programs to address local needs, rather than government priorities, offers a source of optimism for moving forward with new strategies.
“National governments have to be more connected to and understanding of the needs of the communities, and sometimes have to change their own legal infrastructure so those communities can have a bigger voice,” Bertini says.
According to the authors, this community-led change stems from renewed commitments, action and participatory research, less restrictive funding, and intentional listening.
The report builds upon discussion from the 2022 World Food Prize Borlaug Dialogues where experts and stakeholders from climate, agriculture, food security, and humanitarian backgrounds gathered to explore the global food crisis. Despite the current conditions, including extreme weather events, a fragile post-pandemic global economy, and disruptions to the agricultural market due to the war in Ukraine, the gathering concluded with a message of hope.
“Let’s look at the issues in front of us that have been barriers and challenges in the past,” Thurow tells Food Tank. “The message of hope comes that if we realize [these issues] and have these conversations, they can also spark actions, new policy, new priorities to mobilize resources, and lead to embracing disruptive thinking and solutions.”
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