APRN Statement on World Hunger Day 2022
Forty-one years since World Food Day was first observed by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (UN FAO) member states, the crisis of hunger and malnutrition remains ever-worsening. Millions experience food insecurity and inadequacy leading to malnutrition and death, especially among the working poor of the Global South. The climate crisis, wars of aggression, and the COVID-19 pandemic further aggravate the situation.
By the end of 2021, FAO and the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) reported that hungry people in the Asia-Pacific region increased by more than 50 million – amounting to 375 million in total – contributing to almost half of the 828 million starving people across the globe. According to the Global Hunger Index, the bottom 100 countries confronted by hunger belong come from the region including India, Pakistan, Philippines, Indonesia, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, and Myanmar, among others.
The crisis is widespread that even the UN and multilateral institutions cannot obscure the situation. The recent UNESCAP Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Progress Report 2022 reveals that food insecurity in the region has dealt heavy blows on the process of reaching SDG 2 (Zero Hunger) targets. The climate crisis further compounds the situation as SDG 13 or Climate Action targets continue to regress. Natural disasters of an unprecedented scale are pushing more people to hunger and starvation.
Pakistan is one country where the complications of these various crises drive its population to extreme hunger. According to Roots of Equity, the country’s predicament is neither natural nor simply human-made but a result of decades of imperialist plunder. The effect of the recent extreme floods in the country has devastated large tracts of farmlands which will not be arable for years. This has a massive impact on the country’s food security for generations to come.All these figures from different international institutions only point out that the Asia Pacific is a major hunger-stricken region. It requires not only immediate relief but lasting solutions to beat hunger. However, current proposals do not address the root of global hunger. Western imperialism is still at the helm of programs that are alleged to resolve the crisis and the multitude of problems linked to it.
In the UN Food Systems Summit (UNFSS) last year, inequalities among economies and social classes’ capacity to combat hunger remain unrecognized. Instead, the corporate capture of the UNFSS prevailed which movements have continuously warned and denounced. Agrochemical corporations, international financial institutions, and corporate food giants shape and dominate multilateral partnerships and policies in “restructuring” the global food systems. In the past decades, we have seen how these powers controlled food—from production and distribution to prices and consumption through onerous policies that put prime on profits over the people and the environment. It only rehashed the same neoliberal policies that brought us to this very crisis.
Civil society organizations across the globe condemned the UNFSS. They launched the Global People’s Summit on Food System (GPS) as a counterpoint to the dominance of corporate giants and their government lackeys. In opposition to the current neoliberal food systems and its bleak future, the GPS called for the advancement of the people’s rights to just, equitable, healthy, and sustainable food systems.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic uncovering the frailty and unsustainability of the neoliberal economic paradigm, it remains the “solution” to the problems it created. It’s still business as usual. Notwithstanding the progressive rhetoric by the corporate actors and their international lackeys, the same policies continue to plunder and control the global food system. If this is allowed to continue, any ambition of Agenda 2030 will not be achieved. More importantly, the people especially the poor and starving across the Asia Pacific and in every part of the world cannot expect a relevant change in their diets, nay, their lives.
The theme for this year’s World Food Day, “Leave No One Behind,” is undermined by the current system. Those still suffering from extreme hunger and malnutrition are ignored as their plight continues.
In the past decades, we have seen how these powers controlled food—from production and distribution to prices and consumption through onerous policies that put prime on profits over the people and the environment. It only rehashed the same neoliberal policies that brought us to this very crisis.
This World Hunger Day 2022, CSOs and people’s organizations continue to advance the fight for just, equitable, and healthy food systems. The ongoing campaign Unchain our Food from Imperialism aims to further bring forward people-led and people-centered solutions. At the forefront of these global events are farmers, the rural poor, and the working peoples of the world.
As a network that advances people’s research towards meaningful social transformation, we join the call of the global people’s movement in fighting against the neoliberal capture of food systems. We urge the international community to support the fight for people’s food sovereignty and their right to food. Only by linking arms with the people will we solve the climate problem and truly end hunger.#
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