Food & water

A hungry man is not a free man.

Adlai Stevenson


Nearly 850 billion human beings go to bed hungry every night – most of them in developing countries. While the world has made progress in reducing hunger since 2000, there is still a long way to go, with levels of hunger still serious or alarming in 50 countries. The problem here is not a lack of food – we already produce more than enough to feed everyone on the planet. The key issue is that those living in developed countries waste food, while those living in poverty go without because they can’t afford food, or are unable to grow enough to support themselves. Hence, the solution to hunger lies in sustainable development for the world’s poor.

Malnutrition, a related issue, refers to a lack of the right nutrients (or right balance of nutrients), which can occur even amidst plenty. In developed countries, diets high in meat, wheat and processed foods cause disastrous results. Global obesity rates have nearly doubled since 1980, fuelling a rapid growth in diet-related illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease.

Globally, at least 1.8 billion people use a drinking-water source contaminated with faeces, and 2.4 billion people still do not have basic sanitation facilities such as toilets or latrines. As a result, every year millions of people, most of them children, die from diseases associated with inadequate water supply, sanitation and hygiene. Because of population growth and global warming, water scarcity will be one of the greatest problems facing humanity this century.

See also The global economy and Agriculture.