Today, we celebrate World Food Day-a moment to pause and recognize the ongoing need for action towards ending global poverty, hunger and malnutrition. Just last week, the Nobel Committee recognized the importance of fighting hunger in efforts to build peace. Against the backdrop of a pandemic that threatens to increase global poverty, hunger and malnutrition substantially, the message of this year’s World Food Day feels more poignant and urgent than others in recent memory.
In communities where food systems were already fragile, the pandemic of COVID-19 is having an outsized impact and threatening to reverse years of hard-earned progress in pulling people out of the vicious cycle of poverty, hunger and malnutrition. As the global leader in humanitarian assistance and development, the United States will continue to help those in need and save lives. In addition to addressing immediate challenges, we are helping communities become more resilient for years to come.
Our best chance at doing this is by strengthening food systems in our partner countries and making sure they deliver good nutrition for those who are most in need. To do this, we also need to unlock the potential of the people who make up these systems-particularly women, the owners of small businesses and others historically overlooked-so communities can emerge intact, and even stronger, once the pandemic is behind us.
These challenges abroad are closer to home than many think. History has taught us that persistent hunger and malnutrition-in addition to its primary human cost, particularly for children-can undermine education and economic productivity, and can even contribute to political instability and unrest, which threatens our national security. In addition, we live in a global economy in which 95 percent of the world’s consumers live outside of the United States, which means that U.S. economic growth depends on maintaining and increasing access to trade partners abroad. As we prepare for the first increase in global poverty in decades, we recognize that the future of communities abroad is our future, too.
As the global community is grappling with these dynamic challenges, Feed the Future-the U.S. Government’s signature initiative to end global hunger-reaches its 10th anniversary this year. It is clear that our mission to end global hunger in our lifetimes remains just as pertinent as it was a decade ago. And while there is much more work for us to do, through the collective efforts of multiple U.S. Government Departments and Agencies, civil society, partner governments, businesses, and academia, we have been strengthening resilience in communities in anticipation of shocks and stresses like COVID-19. Around the world, our partners are rising to meet the challenge of this crisis.
As we look ahead to the next decade, and as we recognize World Food Day today, the global community must continue to work together to achieve our hopeful, shared vision of a more resilient future-a world in which no one is hungry.