2020/10/17 Dresden, Germany
Image: UN Photo/Albert González Farran
The UN World Food Programme (WFP) won the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize last week, drawing global attention to the critical role of food security to peace.
At a time where a global pandemic adds stress to a world that is already plagued by climate woes and conflicts, such prestigious recognition is timely as a reminder of a hunger crisis that is only intensifying amid these developments.
According to WFP, the world’s largest humanitarian organisation, nearly 690 million people suffer from hunger. More than 130 million suffer from acute hunger – this could now double by the end of the year due to COVID-19.
– Prof. Edeltraud Guenther, UNU-FLORES Director
The impact of COVID-19 on food security and nutrition is well-established. In addition to being recognised for its efforts to fight hunger and for contributing towards efforts to improving conditions for peace, particularly in conflict areas, the Nobel Committee was impressed by WFP’s multilateral efforts during the current pandemic. To build back stronger and greener, the nexus between other intervening variables such as the environment and food security is ever more critical to look at now if we want to construct resilient systems.
In Germany, climate change has resulted in flash floods, droughts, and storms, which are happening more frequently and intensely. Such extreme weather events can disrupt the food supply chain – both locally and globally. In the research project “Resource Nexus Perspective on Climate Resilient Agri-Food System: Stakeholder Analysis, Land Management and Business Decisions”, UNU-FLORES and partners analyse the agri-food ecosystem and supply chain with the aim of equipping small and medium-sized communities and enterprises to better adapt in the face of the possible ecological and economic impacts of climate change.
On the education front, UNU-FLORES and TU Dresden run the Joint PhD Programme in Integrated Management of Water, Soil, and Waste, where Sustainable Development Goal 2 (Zero hunger) is central to the research goals. Through nexus-oriented research projects related to the sustainable intensification of agriculture, including the safe use of wastewater in agriculture, the integration of organic waste into small-holder farming, or water productivity in irrigated agriculture, the programme seeks to sow the seeds for food security and produce a new generation of environmental scientists, engineers, and managers, who would conduct, promote, and provide guidance on the sustainable management of environmental resources, particularly in developing countries and emerging economies.
The current global pandemic has shown that we can no longer look past the interconnections between the environment, food security, and peace if we want to attain sustainable development, and to do so through our multilateral efforts. Today’s World Food Day further reiterates the need for us to “Grow, Nourish, Sustain. Together.”