History is marked by epic battles to bring an absolute end to all manner of tyranny. From the movement to abolish slavery, to the international campaign to ban landmines, the world has energetically mobilized around inspirational goals to end injustice once and for all.
Now, with the imminent adoption of the new United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, we have a chance to get behind a monumental push to end one of the oldest and most widespread injustices of all -- the scourge of hunger.
Sustainable Development Goal number 2 pulls no punches when it states that "We are determined to end poverty and hunger, in all their forms and dimensions." In this short sentence, the world commits itself to end hunger everywhere by 2030, laying down a challenge to meet the target of zero hunger within our lifetimes.
As a statement of global political will and commitment, it picks up on the unfinished business of the Millennium Development Goals and sets out an agenda to end hunger over the next 15 years.
As someone who works for the world's biggest humanitarian agency and has witnessed the reality of life on the frontlines of hunger in many countries, this is a compelling and welcome rallying call. As a framework for action, the new Sustainable Development Goals demonstrate that addressing global hunger is everyone's problem, and if we are really going to banish it, then everyone needs to play a role.
We know that the global humanitarian community does an impressive job, working with governments and civil society in the immediate aftermath of natural disasters or responding to emergencies caused by civil conflict. In places like South Sudan, the World Food Programme is playing a life-saving role as part of a coordinated national and international effort to help those who have been chased from their homes due to conflict.
We are feeding tens of thousands of the displaced in South Sudan, where they have sought shelter in camps away from the fighting. Where communities are cut off from food, we drop it from cargo planes in the sky to ensure that as many as possible have a chance of a healthy meal at the end of the day. We're even experimenting with dropping cooking oil with parachutes. This is clear evidence of the effectiveness of the humanitarian community in an emergency setting and we know it works.
Where the Sustainable Development Goals help us is by providing a road map that will take us beyond emergencies and guide us as we try to address the bigger and more challenging problem of addressing hunger in all its various guises.
While it is easy to understand the needs of an orphaned child who is fleeing conflict or natural disaster, we still need to broaden our understanding of how to help those who may be living in a country at peace, but whose lives are still blighted by chronic hunger and under-nutrition.
We have come a long way in terms of understanding the crippling cost that chronic hunger has on the economies of developing countries. The Cost of Hunger in Africa studies have shown that in countries like Ethiopia, an estimated US$4.7 billion is lost annually because of child under-nutrition -- a sum that is equivalent to as much as 16 percent of the country's Gross Domestic Product.
No single member of the G7 could sustain an annual loss of that order, so if we really believe in building a better, more sustainable future, it is in developing countries that we need to be addressing the root causes of hunger to ensure that the next generation has a future that is defined by zero hunger.
The Sustainable Development Goals give us genuine grounds for optimism that this can be achieved. They are time-bound, measurable and everyone who is involved in delivering them will be held to account. In September, when the goals are finally launched, the clock starts ticking and it is up to us to ensure that when it finally strikes midnight in 2030, we have all played our part in making the world a better place.
This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post, "What's Working: Sustainable Development Goals," in conjunction with the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The proposed set of milestones will be the subject of discussion at the UN General Assembly meeting on Sept. 25-27, 2015 in New York. The goals, which will replace the UN's Millennium Development Goals (2000-2015), cover 17 key areas of development -- including poverty, hunger, health, education, and gender equality, among many others. As part of The Huffington Post's commitment to solutions-oriented journalism, this What's Working SDG blog series will focus on one goal every weekday in September. This post addresses Goal 2.