Back on track for reaching zero hunger

September 1st 2020, Myrtille Danse started as the first director of the Netherlands Food Partnership. She starts in a tumultuous year with serious consequences. “The COVID crisis has made it more evident than ever that we need food systems that are inclusive and resilient and that provide sustainable and healthy diets for all. We can only achieve this by joining forces.” In the run-up to World Food Day, she shared her ideas about the Netherlands Food Partnership and Sustainable Development Goal 2: Zero Hunger by 2030.

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What are the most important challenges and opportunities in achieving SDG2 by 2030?

“Reports show that in 2019 an estimated 690 million people were affected by hunger and malnutrition and that num-ber is only increasing. We have to be realistic about the major challenges that prevent us from reaching zero hunger. Food is unevenly distributed around the world. The increasing world popu-lation cultivates this, as well as the gap between rich and poor. Rapid urbanisa-tion causes logistical challenges in food production and distribution, and we are dealing with climate-related challenges, such as salinisation and depleted natural resources. At the same time, the world has made significant progress in reducing extreme hunger and malnutrition. We have more and more smart solutions available every day that provide oppor-tunities for healthy diets.

What should we do to get on track for reaching Zero Hunger?

We need to find innovative ways of collaborating and we need to make smarter use of existing experience to change the food system. By reexamining the way we produce and consume food and by recalibrating the power relations in value chains, we can tackle the bottlenecks in our food systems. Everyone needs to step up: governments should provide enabling and inclusive food policies with the help of civil society organisations and the private sector. Knowledge institutes have to make their knowledge and research more fit for purpose and the private sector should focus on local production and distributi-on and adjust its business models to the local context. But in the end, collaboration between all actors and a joint vision is needed to reach scale.

Which role should the Netherlands and the Netherlands Food Partnership take?

The Netherlands is recognised world-wide for its knowledge and experience in the field of agri-food. We have shown our innovative power and focus on sustainability. I am proud of this, but at the same time I am frustrated that millions of people still starve while others die from obesity. The Netherlands can contribute to developing solutions and generate opportunities: everyone eats, so the world is our market. NFP can help simplify the landscape of actors and initiatives, and can help link organizations to one another.

We build on years of experience and existing networks, both in the Netherlands and in multiple countries in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. We can take succesful pilots off the shelf and take them to the next level; fit them to local context with local ownership. The NFP is already actively supporting several coalitions. For example, we collaborate with key horticulture companies to promote capacity development in horticulture in Africa, we facilitate a post COVID-19 response group and are involved in promoting agroecology amongst youth in Eastern Africa. We actively work on more private sector involvement and on creating knowledge for impact. In the new year we will kickstart five or six new initiatives and coalitions .

How is the Netherlands Food Partnership involved in World Food Day and what can participants expect?

International days like these are important for putting global issues in the spot-light. The NFP ensures that key initiatives are showcased and provides a stage for important partners, such as youth representatives, authorities like Simon Groot - winer of the 2019 World Food Prize - and Kitty van der Heijden - Directorate-General for International Cooperation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. At WFD, guests will be inspired by smart solutions for SDG2 and can connect with other experts. We want everyone to go home with an action perspective on a personal level. "What can I do from tomorrow onwards that helps achieve Zero Hunger by 2030?"

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