Food systems are increasingly challenged to ensure food security and balanced diets for all, around the world. Almost 800 million people are chronically hungry, while over two billion people suffer from “hidden hunger,” with one or more micronutrient deficiencies. Meanwhile, over two billion people are overweight, with a third of them clinically obese, and hence more vulnerable to non-communicable diseases.
At the end of 2014, an estimated 795 million people – one in nine people worldwide – were estimated to be chronically hungry. All but 15 million of the world’s hungry live in developing countries, i.e., 780 million are in developing countries, where the share of the hungry has declined by less than half – from 23.4 per cent in 1991 to 12.9 per cent.
Slower economic growth since 2008, and especially with the commodity price collapse since the end of last year, threatens to reverse the exceptional half-decade before the financial crash when growth in the South stayed ahead of the North. From 2002, many developing countries – including some of the poorest– had been growing much faster after a quarter century of stagnation in Africa, for example.
Over the eight years since the onset of the global financial crisis in 2008, the ranks of the unemployed have swollen to over 200 million worldwide. That number captures only a fraction of those who remain vulnerable and insecure, since more than four-fifths of the global workforce is outside the formal sector, with poor access to unemployment or other traditional social security benefits.
In recent decades, many developing countries have experienced declines in fiscal revenue as a share of national income. There is an urgent need to reverse this trend, with greater revenue collection to finance the realization of developing countries’ developmental aspirations.
It has become clear that the South, including the least developed countries, has little reason to expect any real progress to the almost half century old commitment to transfer 0.7 percent of developed countries’ income to developing countries. But to add insult to injury, developing countries have, once again, been denied full participation in inter-governmental discussions to enhance overall as well as national tax capacities.
Over three quarters of the extreme poor in the world live in the countryside. Reducing rural poverty will therefore require significantly higher rural incomes. Since most rural incomes are related to agriculture, raising agricultural productivity can help raise rural incomes all round.
Last year saw considerable reflection on the First World War, which began a century ago. In reality, it was very much a European war, but with nonetheless profound implications for the last century.
Many well-meaning people who would like better governance have been misled into insisting on so-called ‘good governance’ reforms, with the expectation that this would lead to development.
Recent years have seen a remarkable resurgence of interest in economic inequality, thanks primarily to growing recognition of some of its economic, social, cultural and political consequences in the wake of Western economic stagnation.
The Addis Ababa Action Agenda is widely seen as a major disappointment for developing countries as well as others hoping for adequate means of implementation to realise national development ambitions and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The world received an important report card last month, in the form of the latest annual Millennium Development Goals Report. The report highlights a number of important achievements, but omits mention that some targets of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were lower than those agreed to at the relevant U.N. international conferences of the 1990s.
By the end of this year, the 15-year time frame for the Millennium Development Goals will end, with good progress on several indicators, but limited achievements on others.
The growth in global interdependence poses greater challenges to policy makers on a wide range of issues and for countries at all levels of development.
More than four decades ago, the richer members of the international community committed to deliver at least 0.7 percent of their respective national incomes as official development assistance.