I venture to say that food is one of the main elements of this whole discussion. We are facing crop and food production damages and losses due to weather and climate-related disasters. In many countries, food serves both for consumption (human and animal) and for energy generation, and is the basis of the economy of most countries in the Global South. Without food, public health is obviously affected, with consequences of undernourishment and death. Hence, we are all observing food prices getting higher, in contrast to the reduction of purchasing power of the worker who barely earns a minimum salary, increasing inflation and the socioeconomic disparity - the already existing inequality gap.
This year, Brazil returned to the hunger map with 33.1 million people, that is, 15% of the population is in a severe food insecurity situation – a huge red alert! However, in a tropical country, with such biodiversity and favorable climate, we cannot have people, including children, dying from hunger and cold. Unacceptable!
Today, the 7th of September, we celebrate Independence Day, but we are all questioning where our food sovereignty is? We are passing through the highest levels of deforestation and the majority of our public policies promoting familiar agriculture are being destroyed day by day.
“Independence is a Brazil without hunger” says a banner in the Lapa Arches, pulled up by the Movement of Small Farmers (MPA), Movement of those affected by dams (MAB), Movement of homeless workers (MTST) and United Movement of Street Vendors (MUCA) – Camila Borges/MPA
Sadly, this is not just my reality. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), between 702 and 828 million people around the world faced hunger in 2021. The number of severely food insecure people reached almost 300 million. In addition, despite the obvious need, nearly one third of the food produced each year for global consumption gets lost or wasted .
Mainly thinking about the most vulnerable areas, I joined four other GAUC Global Youth Ambassadors, who were also interested in this theme, exploring how local food systems initiatives can help to create more resilient food systems and enhance food security and sovereignty looking to the Global South. After all, according to UNEP, urban agriculture can meet at least five of the SDGs: SDG 2 – Zero Hunger; SDG 3 – Good Health and well-being; SDG 10 – Reduced Inequalities; SDG 11 – Sustainable Cities and Communities; and SDG 13 – Climate Action .
Meanwhile, we are visiting different projects in our countries, from self-funding entrepreneurs in vulnerable communities, to local associations and government sponsored projects. For example, a longstanding project has been cultivating urban gardens in informal settlements and schools in my city, Rio de Janeiro. The result of food production is for their own consumption by the engaged households, with surpluses donated or sold to the neighboring community, promoting a shared environment, and income to the families .
Particularity, I am engaged in different initiatives to tackle hunger in my city and I see how much local actions can benefit the most needy and teach those who are properly unaware of this reality. We have stories of overcoming and combating hunger being built on top of the hill, in the favelas.
In this sense and using a privilege that I have gained during my life – access to education – I try to do my small part, either through donations, lectures, projects disclosures and scientific research. I understand that, in some way, I am contributing to put light on these initiatives and scale them, so that they survive in the long term. More than that, I am hopeful that children's food insecurity, which compromise their health and development, will be solved soon... so that we may have more colleagues and change makers in the future.
However, we do need more. I reaffirm that we have enough evidence of the challenge that is to tackle hunger, however, there is still a mismatch with the political and social agenda, and above all, the climate agenda of most countries, especially those on the zero scale from the hunger map. Therefore, policymakers must address their local agenda more properly, towards the search for the best agriculture infrastructure, financing, and the most important, listening to local communities' needs. In addition, promoting open dialogue with interested stakeholders and globally is substantial to tackle climate change, driving to a more sustainable, resilient and whealthy planet.
 II Inquérito Nacional sobre Insegurança Alimentar no Contexto da Pandemia da COVID-19 no Brasil [livro eletrônico]: II VIGISAN: relatório final/Rede Brasileira de Pesquisa em Soberania e Segurança Alimentar – PENSSAN. -- São Paulo, SP: Fundação Friedrich Ebert: Rede PENSSAN, 2022. -- (Análise; 1). ISBN 978-65-87504-50-6. Available at: https://olheparaafome.com.br/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/OLHESumExecutivoINGLES-Diagramacao-v2-R01-02-09-20224212.pdf.
 FAO, 2021. FAO, IFAD, UNICEF, WFP and WHO. 2021. The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2021. Transforming food systems for food security, improved nutrition and affordable healthy diets for all. Rome, FAO. Available at: https://doi.org/10.4060/cb4474en
 UNEP. 2022. Urban Agriculture’s Potential to Advance Multiple Sustainability Goals - An International Resource Panel Think Piece. ISBN: 978-92-807-3920-6. Job number: DTI/2418/PA. Available at: https://wedocs.unep.org/bitstream/handle/20.500.11822/38399/urban_agriculture_pol.pdf
Author: Carolina Grangeia, GAUC Global Youth Ambassador and PhD student at The Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ).
Editor: Jeffrey Tykot
The article reflects the opinions of the author and not necessarily that of GAUC.