This August, Eat Well Global attended the SDG-Conference ‘Towards Zero Hunger: Partnerships for Impact’ at Wageningen University & Research in the Netherlands.

The conference focused on Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2: end hunger, achieve food security and improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture. It also brought together key stakeholders – from the public and private sectors – with the goal of fostering SDG17: create partnerships. How do we do this? By recognizing, as 2018 World Food Prize Laureate David Nabarro put it, that “nutrition is everyone’s business.”

Here are a few of the notable takeaways:

  • Truly effective partnerships require leaving our comfort zones. “The first step in transforming food systems is to be open to transforming our own perceptions,” said Dr. Lawrence Haddad, 2018 World Food Prize Laureate and Executive Director of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN).
  • Ertharin Cousin, former Executive Director of the World Food Programme, called for the development community to reconcile that the private sector partners must still make profits.
  • The research community as well as its public and private sector funders, should focus more on nutrient-dense crops like vegetables to prioritize innovation, says Dr. Rajiv J. Shah, President of The Rockefeller Foundation.

While there were no shortage of inspirational speakers or passionate calls for urgency, the focus was on collaboration and developing tangible actions. Three main topics were covered:

Evidence: There are specific needs for multi-disciplinary indicators, methods and approaches that support the development of healthy sustainable and inclusive food systems. For example, using technology to collect and disseminate data.

Synergies & Trade-Offs: We need better ways to identify synergies and address trade-offs within and between SDG2 and the other SDGs. Communication and big picture alignment is key.

Governance: New alliances for food security and diversity in food governance to achieve the SDGs. One example was Heineken’s partnership with ECCORD to improve food security and secure barley supply in Ethiopia by supporting smallholder farmers.

It was clear from the sessions that, when it comes to hunger and food insecurity, there are no easy solutions. Partnerships are needed to build resilient food systems that address local needs.

And if these different sectors cannot break down the barriers – long-held perceptions, financial investments or otherwise – to address the SDGs, we will all suffer the consequences. As Unilever CEO Paul Polman puts it: “the cost of inaction exceeds the cost of action.”

Find out more about the conference and its outcomes here: