Thankful for Partners, Thankful for Progress in the Fight Against Global Hunger

As the holiday season begins in the U.S. with families and friends gathering around tables for Thanksgiving, I am beginning to reflect on this past year. A lot was quite sobering. Some citizens are voting to have their countries turn inwards and embracing fear at a time when we are facing global crises that require collective action. Humanitarian crises continue unabated and children still die from hunger. Thankfully there are also many positive trends that you might want to share with family and friends. People, like you, are standing together to make a difference and this will continue.

Globally in 2016, some noteworthy moments that built on the agreement to adopt the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) include the Paris Climate Agreement entering into force, the Grand Bargain at the World Humanitarian Summit, and the release of Habitat III's New Urban Agenda. In the U.S. collective advocacy led to bipartisan passage of the Electrify Africa Act, the Foreign Assistance Transparency and Accountability Act, and the Global Food Security Act. By joining forces, leaders on Capitol Hill, U.S. non-profits (NGOs), universities, businesses and the Obama administration were able to improve U.S. foreign assistance programs. The enactment of these laws through a bipartisan consensus is a clear reminder of how far we can go when we work together to fight global poverty.

With our strong partnerships, reach and expertise, U.S. NGOs play a vital role in the fight to achieve the SDGs by 2030. An example is leveraging our investments to stand alongside national governments, corporations, and foundations in a future where fewer people are hungry or malnourished. We are confronting head on the challenge that 795 million people do not have enough food to lead active, healthy lives and they go to bed hungry every night. In addition to working to pass laws like the Global Food Security Act, InterAction members are also pledging their own resources to address the problem. Between 2013 and 2015, InterAction members met their Global Food Security Pledge by reporting over $1.8 billion in private spending, far exceeding the initial pledge to spend $1 billion. Within this pledge, participating NGOs reported over $270 million in private spending towards nutrition-specific and nutrition sensitive projects. By year three of a 5-year pledge, InterAction members have already far exceeded their initial pledge to spend $750 million on nutrition programs by 2017. These investments demonstrate that NGOs (and the volunteers and supporters they work with) are able to help millions of families grow and have access to nutritious food.

The investments made by U.S NGOs and our government make a difference. The Global Food Security Act builds on the successes already being achieved by programs like the Feed the Future Initiative, the whole of government initiative to address poverty, hunger and malnutrition. In 2015, Feed the Future helped more than 9 million smallholder producers adopt new innovations and practices to improve their livelihoods and nutrition. In fact, since the start of the initiative, poverty has dropped between 7 and 36 percent in 11 of Feed the Future's focus countries and child stunting dropped between 6 and 40 percent in 8 of Feed the Future's focus countries. These investments work.

By recognizing our shared interests and working together, the U.S. government, NGOs, and the private sector can continue to ensure that families everywhere have the ability to feed their children. This progress will only continue if we remain committed to effective programs focused on those living in the world's poorest and most marginalized communities. I do not know what a Trump administration will bring but the lesson I have learned this year is that we must continue to collaborate and coordinate, not just to eradicate hunger and malnutrition, but to build more healthy, prosperous and peaceful societies everywhere. Let us not reverse decades of progress.