Charting a Course to Zero Hunger

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As policymakers start putting into practice the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by world leaders in September, IFAD is bringing together evaluators, academics, representatives of national governments and practitioners from United Nations agencies to discuss how the second Sustainable Development Goal (SDG2), which proposes to end hunger, achieve food security, improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture by 2030, can be assessed and evaluated.

From 17 to 18 November the evaluation offices of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), IFAD, the World Food Programme (WFP) and the CGIAR will hold a technical seminar to begin the process of benchmarking and evaluating the ambitious goal of ending hunger and achieving food security for millions of people.

“The second Sustainable Development Goal (SDG2) needs to be understood, made measurable and achievable,” says Oscar A. Garcia, Director of the Independent Office of Evaluation of IFAD.

“We will be looking at the baselines, including what data is available and what the starting points are to achieving SDG2 by 2030,” says Garcia.

Improving data and evaluation

The 17 new SDGs build on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which are credited with producing the most successful anti-poverty movement in history.

Despite enormous progress driven by the MDGs, extreme poverty is still a reality for some of the world’s most vulnerable people. Around 800 million people still go to bed hungry every night. One billion people survive on less than $1.25 a day, and more than 70 per cent of them live in rural areas and mainly depend on agriculture.

Learning from its experiences with the MDGs, the UN has noted the importance of good data collection and evaluation in achieving the SDGs.

In its final report, a high-level panel convened by the UN secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, called for a “data revolution” to better measure development progress after 2015.

According to the report, better data and statistics will help governments track progress and make sure their decisions are evidence-based and will also strengthen accountability. The report adds that a true data revolution would not only draw on existing data sources but also take advantage of new technology, crowdsourcing, and better connectivity.

The complex nature of the SDGs as a whole, and SDG2 in particular – with targets related to food security, agriculture, investment in rural infrastructure, trade restrictions, and food commodity markets – will require new methodologies to make sure that the different dimensions of sustainable development in the area of hunger and food security are properly captured and understood.

According to Garcia, the role of evaluation is critical to not only tracking and monitoring progress but also assessing impact.

“Assessing the impact is very important. We need to ask: What is the end result for each country in terms of ending hunger? In terms of ending malnutrition? In terms of ending stunted growth in children or in terms of agricultural productivity and incomes for small holder farmers,” he says.

The seminar will gather a wide range of partners with technical expertise to begin to develop and answer these very questions.

These include experts or technical staff from multilateral and bilateral development and humanitarian organizations; academic institutions, including specialized research centres; foundations; think tanks; the private sector; national-level counterparts from evaluation and policy institutions; voluntary organizations of professional evaluators from regions and countries; and delegates from Member States accredited in Rome.

Garcia points to IFAD’s wealth of experience and expertise promoting sustainable agriculture and reducing rural poverty as being critical during these initial SDG evaluation discussions.

He notes that IFAD has funded more than 991 projects since 1978, with a total investment of US$ 16 billion.

“So we can extract very good lessons in terms of achieving the SDGs under the paradigm of sustainable development, which means economic growth, social inclusion and environmental responsibility,” Garcia says.

“These three dimensions are embedded into the design of many IFAD’s interventions on the ground. We should tap into that experience to show the way forward.”

The seminar will be webcast at http://webcasting.ifad.org/sdg2.

Originally Published: IFAD.org | 13 November 2015