Today, close to 900 million people are estimated to be under-nourished, nearly 15% of the global population. Such a challenge is compounded by population growth, diminishing arable land and the increasing frequency of natural and man-made disasters, which reduce the capacity of the most vulnerable populations to access safe and nutritious food.
Enshrined in the first Millennium Development Goal, a key priority for the European Union (EU) is to fight hunger and malnutrition and contribute to reduce by half the number of people suffering from hunger by 2015. The EU continues to target its development assistance towards the most vulnerable and fragile populations.
In its 2011 Communication ‘An Agenda for Change’, the EU resolved to take more action to deliver food security, help insulate developing countries from climate and price-related shocks and help provide the foundations for sustainable growth. This was complemented by other food security-related policies on resilience and nutrition.
In its 2013 Communication ‘A Decent Life for All’, the EU re-emphasised proposals made in the run-up to Rio+20 calling for sustainable development goals focused on basic ‘pillars of life’, including food security, an issue that has been ‘mainstreamed’ in the EU’s programmes. While recent global initiatives have catalysed rapid support and investment, the EU has remained at the fore with efforts on food and nutrition security, sustainable agriculture and resilience implemented through various programmes and activities in partnership with multilateral and civil society organisations.
For example, soaring food prices in 2007/08 led to the creation of an EU Food Facility, which provided €1 billion over three years (2009-2011) to improve agricultural productivity and food supply in the 49 most affected countries. This Facility reached a total of 59 million people, mainly smallholder farmers, with spill over effects on an additional 93 million. More recently, the EU has been leading the way to tackle ‘hidden hunger’ and has pledged to help reduce stunting in seven million children by 2025.