squid in france

Image: Huy Phan


Combating hunger and inequality as a global priority

The urgency of addressing issues related to inequality was emphatically highlighted by President Lula in his speech in france, during a summit to discuss a new global financial pact. Talking about him contributed to consolidate Brazil's repositioning in high-level international discussions and to restore the fight against hunger as a priority of Brazilian foreign policy.

The representative said: “For at least 20 years I have heard the FAO say that we have 900 million human beings who go to bed hungry every day. How are we going to solve this if we don't discuss it?”

Hunger is a problem that affects human dignity and that specifically affects two urgent global problems: public health and the preservation of the environment. However, despite being present practically all over the world, the distribution of hunger is quite asymmetrical, especially in relation to developed countries.

For example, although food and nutrition insecurity has been growing in the States, even taking the form of obesity with its associated diseases, its manifestation and magnitude are very different from what occurs in Brazil or Venezuela. On the other hand, China and Russia have been reporting to the world the success of their food security policies, seen as national security priorities, and this raises questions about the commitment of these emerging powers in facing the hunger of others.

Hence the importance of the task of the Brazilian government in raising the flag of the fight against hunger and, in this path, the alliance with other peripheral countries will be fundamental, especially with India and South Africa. Perhaps this could be a spring to boost IBSA.

In any case, the contemporary framing of hunger cannot do without two connections. First, it is essential to recognize the impact of the climate issue on food and nutrition security. Climate change has direct effects on agricultural production, leading to food shortages and rising prices. Research already indicates that certain foods are losing its nutritional value because of weather conditions.

Extreme weather events suddenly destroy farmers' ability to grow and harvest their food. This results in less food availability and increases the vulnerability of the poorest populations, aggravating hunger and malnutrition. Second, it is essential to highlight that hunger is not just a poverty issue, but also a public health issue. We are experiencing, simultaneously, the lack of nutritious food and an obesity epidemic that produce high costs in financial and human terms. In this sense, fighting hunger and promoting healthy eating must be non-negotiable principles of a new, more inclusive world order.

However, more than pointing out these connections, it would be important for the Brazilian government to work to spread the fight against hunger as a vector of ecological preservation, of promoting global health, in short, of fighting inequalities. Lula drew attention to this point when he said that “we are an increasingly unequal world, and more and more wealth is concentrated in the hands of fewer people, and poverty concentrated in the hands of more people. If we don't discuss this issue of inequality, and if we don't put it as high a priority as the climate issue, we could have a very good climate and people could continue to die of hunger in many countries around the world.

In other words, in what ways can the promotion of the Human Right to Adequate Food contribute to solving the climate catastrophe? How can the promotion of healthy eating save resources for public health and improve worker productivity?

The role of BRICS political leaders and international organizations will be crucial to advance this agenda and create incentives for investments in programs to fight hunger, promote sustainable agriculture, as well as for the development of public policies that address social inequalities, creating conditions for all people to have access to nutritious food in sufficient quantity.

Combating hunger must be a priority on the international agenda, as its impact extends beyond national borders. International cooperation to eradicate hunger is a way to promote peace, stability and human dignity throughout the world. Lula's courageous speech in France, which vehemently criticizes the current international order as a structure that produces hunger and inequalities of all kinds, is an invitation for leaders to join in an effort for transformation that is urgent and necessary.

*Thiago Lima He is a professor at the Department of International Relations at UFPB.

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