In 2013, the international community will review progress on the Millennium Development Goals, two years before the target date for their achievement. Policy discussions will also begin on the post-2015 framework for international development. For the first half of the year, Ireland will hold the EU Presidency.
It is essential that these policy processes be firmly rooted in the reality of people’s lives and objective evidence of what has worked and what has not. There has been significant progress on many of the development goals, with improvements in education, healthcare and other basic services across the developing world. But nearly one billion people still suffer from hunger, most of them women and children. Undernutrition among mothers and children is the underlying cause of 2.5 million deaths every year. In developing countries, nearly one third of children under five are stunted and will never reach their full potential.
The world’s population is set to reach 9 billion by 2050, which will require a 70% increase in agricultural production if everyone is to be fed. Over the same period climate change, water scarcity and land degradation could reduce food production by one quarter, leading to further increases in the number of people suffering hunger.
It is those who are already poor and vulnerable who will be worst affected, despite having contributed least to the causes of climate change. The global challenges of hunger, nutrition and climate justice are linked. To be credible, the global response must be based on a clear understanding of the rights and the reality of the lives of the people most affected, now and in the future. We need to move away from a business-as-usual approach to development if these global challenges are to be resolved in our lifetimes.
The Irish Government and the Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice will convene an international conference in Dublin on 15-16 April 2013 to open dialogue and debate on these linked challenges, and to encourage and inspire innovative thinking and solutions. The conference is being organised in partnership with the World Food Programme and the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS). This will not be an intergovernmental meeting. It will bring together key policy makers and global thought leaders with local people and practitioners facing the realities of rising food prices, failed crops, undernutrition and voicelessness. The objective will be to facilitate a respectful dialogue and learn from practical experience and robust evidence to inform a new approach to addressing hunger, nutrition and climate justice, in the context of the new international development agenda.
The aim will not simply be to adopt an outcome document. We hope to inspire new ways of thinking about global development challenges and to invigorate and broaden the debate, at all levels, listening to and learning from the experiences of local people, and rooting future thematic policy approaches in their lives and their efforts to cope. The Conference will take place in Dublin Castle. To facilitate a focused dialogue, participation will be by invitation, but there will be opportunities for others to participate online.
Further information will be available shortly on the Irish Aid website.