Gilbert F. Houngbo, President of the United Nations International Fund for Agricultural Development.

UN agency President at EAT Stockholm Food Forum: striking the right balance to feed the world

Ending poverty and hunger top the list of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, but achieving this shared ambition by 2030 will only happen if the world finds the right balance between meeting rising food demands while simultaneously preserving the environment and building community resilience, according to Gilbert F. Houngbo, the President of the United Nations International Fund for Agricultural Development.

Already more than 800 million people go to bed hungry each night, a man-made travesty that will only worsen as agriculture is increasingly affected by climate change. It is estimated that by 2050, 22 per cent of cultivated areas will suffer impacts, agricultural production will shrink and rising ocean temperatures and acid levels will lead to declines in fish stocks. At the same time, demand for food will more than double as the urban population grows. As a keynote speaker at the EAT Stockholm Food Forum on Monday, Houngbo will explain the tenuous balance between feeding the world, protecting the environment and the role of the poorest most marginalized families.

“How we switch food from being a driver of many of our greatest global health and environmental challenges to instead becoming a powerful tool for tackling them, is one of the most critical questions of our time,” says Alessandro Demaio, CEO of EAT. “Just as these challenges are intimately intertwined, our actions to address them must be integrated across sectors, disciplines and continents. As such, the work of international organizations such as IFAD is critical, and our hope is that the leaders and experts converging in Stockholm this week will make decisive contributions toward the urgent food transformation that is needed to meet the 2030 Agenda.”

Each year the EAT Stockholm Food Forum attracts more than 500 top global leaders from science, politics, business and civil society to share knowledge and best practices, and coordinate action across sectors and disciplines to tackle the intertwined challenges of the global food system. Other speakers alongside Houngbo will include Sweden’s Minister for International Development Cooperation and Climate and Deputy Prime Minister Isabella Lövin and Norway’s Minister of International Development Nikolai Astrup.

While in Stockholm, Houngbo will join IFAD’s Recipes for Change chefs Ska Mirriam, a Lesotho born chef and media personality, and Ali Said Mandhry from Kenya, popularly known as Chef Ali L’artiste, a media personality, culinary instructor and food stylist. The Recipes for Change campaign exposes the threats rural communities face as climatic changes impact the essential ingredients used in their traditional foods and daily meals. It demonstrates how IFAD, through the Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme, is working with farming families to adapt to the very real impacts of climate change in their communities. The chefs will join others in the community to launch at the EAT Stockholm Food Forum a Chefs’ Manifesto - a thematic framework that identifies food issues that matter most to chefs and grounded in the UN Sustainable Development Goals.