January 20, 2011
On Wednesday, January 19, the Worldwatch Institute celebrated the publication of its fifteenth State of the World report with an afternoon of speakers and panels centered on agricultural development, hunger, and poverty alleviation.
The new report, State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet, focuses largely on agricultural innovations that reduce hunger, increase agricultural productivity, improve livelihoods, mitigate climate change, and protect environmental health, among other benefits. The report is based on research gathered on a one year journey through 25 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, including visits with over 200 projects, groups, and individuals.
Keynote speaker Kathleen Merrigan, USDA Deputy Secretary, called the report “insightful and visionary,” and outlined the administration’s efforts to increase global food security. “President Obama has elevated the issue of food security, making it one of three top development priorities, along with global health and climate change,” said Merrigan. “Agricultural innovation is the key to reducing hunger, improving health, and mitigating global climate change.”
In addition to highlighting small-scale innovations ready for scaling up, the report also draws attention to major successes in reducing food waste, building resilience to climate change, and strengthening farming in cities. Serving locally-produced food to school children, for example, has proven to be an effective hunger- and poverty-reducing strategy in many African nations, with strong similarities to successful farm-to-school programs in the United States.