World Hunger Day 2023: A Call for Sustainable Solutions

World Hunger Day 2023: A Call for Sustainable Solutions

Each year, World Hunger Day is celebrated to raise awareness about the more than 820 million people living in chronic hunger and to encourage action to bring this to an end.

World Hunger Day, commemorated every year on May 28, provides a platform to raise awareness about global hunger issues and celebrate the tangible solutions that can end hunger. Founded by The Hunger Project in 2011, the day is dedicated to recognizing the efforts of local communities worldwide who strive towards ending hunger and poverty​​. Read on to learn about the history of world hunger and the theme of World Hunger Day 2023. 

History of World Hunger

From the dawn of civilization, humans have grappled with hunger, but they have also united in their efforts to combat it. The French philosopher Simone Weil observed that throughout history, societies have displayed a collective will to ensure no one goes hungry. For instance, in ancient Egypt, acts of feeding the hungry were considered a moral duty, partly motivated by beliefs about the afterlife.

Before the advent of marketplace economies, communities operated on a share-or-starve-together principle, according to Weil. Prior to the 19th century, the burden of hunger relief rested primarily on the shoulders of religious entities and benevolent individuals; however, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, there were growing appeals for government intervention in addressing hunger, particularly on a global scale. For example, the US government undertook large-scale food aid programs by sending vast amounts of food to Europe during and immediately after World War I.

Related: World Hunger Day 2022: History, Theme and Ways to Support the Movement

In the aftermath of World War II, the newly formed United Nations (UN) took up the mantle in the global fight against hunger. The organization established agencies like the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) to champion food security and agricultural growth. The late 1970s saw international entities like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank shifting their focus to developing countries, as the dire state of hunger in nations such as Ethiopia captured global attention.

During the 20th century, the common belief was that hunger stemmed from an imbalance between supply and demand; however, the work of economist Amartya Sen challenged this view. Sen’s research convincingly argued that modern hunger issues were more often a result of distributional failures or the impact of government policies in both developed and developing countries, rather than simple shortages. Sen’s groundbreaking insights earned him a Nobel Prize in 1998.

World Hunger Day 2023 Theme

The theme for World Hunger Day 2023 is “Sustainability.” It focuses on the critical role of creating sustainable food systems to ensure that everyone has access to nutritious and affordable food, both now and in the future. The stark reality is that over 800 million people go hungry every day, while a third of all food produced is never eaten. The day emphasizes the interconnectedness of food security, climate change and biodiversity loss, and the need for a holistic approach to address these issues​.

The Hunger Project works on creating sustainable food systems by strengthening local capacities. Its programs focus on the economic, social and environmental factors that contribute to ending hunger, such as promoting sustainable farming practices, increasing access to agro-technology, building capacity to adapt to climate change and promoting reforestation and tree planting​​​.

World Hunger Day encourages everyone to join in the fight against hunger. This can be achieved by sharing the message on social media, educating friends, family and colleagues about World Hunger Day and following sustainability tips to transform our global food system in harmony with the planet and people​​.

Tips to eat more sustainably include planning meals, buying only what you need, storing food properly, using leftovers, composting, donating excess food and educating others about food waste​​.