Our monthly SDG Meetups are a collaboration with SDG House and C-Change. For each Meetup, we focus on one Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) and invite entrepreneurs, innovators and knowledge partners to share lessons learned from working toward that specific goal.
For the ninth edition of our SDG Meetup series we explored SDG 2: Zero Hunger. To make progress on the sustainable development goals (SDGs), we need the collective brainpower of people from all sorts of backgrounds. The topic of hunger may seem unfamiliar in a country like the Netherlands. However, it is in fact linked to our everyday lives, and central to several SDGs. To discuss SDG 2, we invited three speakers to talk about their work and share their perspective on achieving this goal:
- Karin Bakker – The Hunger Project, an international NGO operating in Africa and Asia
- Janneke de Vries – The World Resources Institute, a “think & do tank” executing projects based on research reports like ‘Creating a sustainable food future’
- Willemijn Brouwer – Lead Sustainability Engagement & Learning at nutrition & health company DSM
Feeding 10 billion people
Considering the current number of undernourished people worldwide, it seems hard to imagine how we can sustainably feed 10 billion people in 2050. The data presented by WRI are daunting: 40% of the global workforce is active in agriculture, 37% of landmass and 70% of water withdrawal is already used for food production. And don’t forget about water pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and deforestation directly linked to food production.
This means that when we look at SDG 2, we need to combine multiple SDG’s; on water, land use and sustainable production & consumption. Janneke de Vries is focusing on solutions and this means that there are three challenges to face:
- Reduce food loss (32% of all food produced doesn’t make it to a plate) and food waste.
- Restore degraded land, especially in Africa, and boost production.
- Shift diets, habits of a growing middle class and increasing urban populations.
It’s clear to Janneke that with entrepreneurial solutions, both big and small, we can make a change.
Is hunger about food?
The Hunger Project (THP) believes it’s possible to end hunger by 2030 and has developed a holistic method to do so. Not with projects about hunger or food, but through empowerment. They create self-reliant people, often by stimulating female leadership and entrepreneurship. Growing up in an African country, Karin Bakker noticed the creativity and entrepreneurship of her neighbours. She also noticed the bottlenecks, like the lack of education for girls, access to credit, or knowledge about reproductive issues.
THP focuses on these three issues. At the core is education, building locally designed 8-year projects with 42 specific KPIs. These projects leave communities capable, self-reliant and positive, with hunger rates dropping from 80% to 40%. According to Karin, “hunger is not a food problem, but a human challenge.”
Sustainability as a core business
Entrepreneurial solutions are important. To us at Impact Hub, but to DSM as well. DSM decided in 2008 to bring their sustainability agenda into their core business: to make money and do good at the same time. For Willemijn Brouwer, who always wanted to contribute to a sustainable world, but never expected to do so from within a corporate position, this was a great opportunity. As a food company, DSM has chosen to focus on nutrition, not just to end hunger, but also to tackle nutritional deficits. The company is sharing their knowledge and bringing new nutritional products onto the market, but also aims to focus on the challenge of production and distribution. This is why they’ve opened a new food plant in southern Africa, using typical local products, like maize. Willemijn concludes: “If you want to be part of this SDG, join the action and focus on where your passion lies.”
Views from the crowd
Some themes that were explored in the co-creation session were food waste prevention through retail food repositories where people can pick up otherwise-wasted food; shortening food supply chains by creating order and delivery systems in Nairobi; and raising awareness through new technologies like VR and bridge builders in media and among countries.