On 6-8 September 2000, heads of state and government gathered at UN Headquarters in New York for the Millennium Summit: the largest gathering of world leaders that had ever happened. On the final day they adopted the 'Millennium Declaration'
One of the targets of the MDGs is to halve the proportion of people who suffer from hunger by the end of this year. It is close to being met. Yet, still, 805 million people - nearly one in 9 people in the world - cannot lead a healthy active life due to hunger; the number of children suffering undernutrition is counted in the hundreds of millions; and, 3.1 million children die each year due to malnutrition (ending these deaths is the focus of the Generation Nutrition campaign).
It looks like the new goals and targets are now more or less set: unlike the MDGs they have been developed ahead of the political declaration. The co-facilitators of the negotiations are asking what should be in the content of the Post-2015 Declaration.
The heads of state and government should reiterate the following solemn promise they made in 'The Future We Want’, the outcome document of the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development which kick-started the process to agree the SDGs:
“We are committed to freeing humanity from poverty and hunger as a matter of urgency.”
In reaffirming this commitment, leaders would be seen to recognise, not only that hunger is a human deprivation too long in our world, not only that hunger is the unfinished business of the MDGs, but that hunger must be addressed with renewed political will as a priority of the highest order.
Poverty simply cannot be ended without first addressing hunger and child undernutrition: injustices that are both a cause and consequence of poverty.
Good nutrition is the very foundation of sustainable development and poverty eradication: we will only know the Post 2015 vision to ‘leave no one behind' is being fulfilled when we see the malnutrition numbers falling very dramatically.
The Declaration should speak to and inspire all humankind, in particular drawing the world’s attention to the most identifiable figures of the mother and young child: the Post 2015 Development Agenda will only succeed if citizens and governments join together to nourish all mothers, to end preventable child deaths and to make sure all children survive and thrive.
Ten years ago, in February 2005, Nelson Mandela asked all humanity to rise up, to be the great generation needed to make poverty history recognizing that as long as poverty persists, there is no true freedom. Mandela also knew that a hungry man, woman or child could not be truly free.
The Millennium Declaration states: “We consider certain fundamental values essential in the twenty-first century. These include Freedom: Men and women have the right to live their lives and raise their children in dignity, free from hunger….”
Nearly three years from 2012, when the promise was made at Rio+20 to fully bring about this freedom, we are yet to see the true urgency needed from all leaders to free humanity from poverty and hunger.
In September those words should be seen, read and heard once more and this time with the action, plans and resources, as well as the right targets on nutrition, to make this vision of the road to 2030 a reality – year by year, a world without hunger coming closer: a global community whose actions together are making poverty history and creating an equitable and sustainable world.