The latest edition of the Sustainability Stories Webinar Series, part of the Global Hope Festival organized by Turkuvaz Media Group and its InBusiness magazine, was held on Wednesday. The webinar entitled “Zero Hunger, Zero Poverty” focused on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal while participants urged global cooperation and a fight against these two problems which are prevailing all over the world, especially during the coronavirus pandemic.
Mustafa Ali Yurdupak, inclusive and sustainable growth portfolio manager at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Turkey, told the event that Turkey had managed to eliminate extreme poverty but the pandemic increased the poverty rate to 12.2% in 2020. “This means some 1.6 million people are poor again and it is an inevitable consequence of the pandemic. The pandemic is among the most serious challenges to Sustainable Development Goals,” he noted. Yurdupak said eliminating poverty is not possible solely through charitable campaigns and donations, and it involves ensuring justice and tapping into human potential to establish this justice (of income equality), he noted.
Taylan Kıymaz, country program officer for the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) for Turkey, said that the pandemic may reverse the progress towards the sustainable development goals against poverty and hunger. “In 2020, the number of people suffering from chronic hunger increased and projections show that the number of people suffering from malnutrition will rise to nearly 1 billion. Three-fourths of the poorest 750 million people live in developing countries, in their rural parts. We are running projects to address their problems. We are working to improve food security,” Kıymaz said.
Viorel Gutu, Food and Agriculture Organization subregional coordinator for Central Asia and its representative in Turkey, noted that the pandemic added “150 million more” to a population of people suffering from hunger and poverty. “We need global solutions to these global problems and we need collective action,” Gutu said. He noted that agriculture played a key role in resolving these issues.
Bangladeshi entrepreneur Muhammad Yunus, the founder of Grameen Bank and a pioneer of microcredit and microfinance, said the pandemic may be viewed as “an opportunity, the darkest hour before the dawn.” Pointing to problems over access to vaccines for poor countries and injustice in vaccine distribution, Yunus highlighted the need to remove vaccine patents to ensure the free production of vaccines everywhere. “The pandemic gave us the option to get off that train heading to the end. We have to take a new train. The (pre-pandemic) world was the world of global warming, a world where 1% enjoyed wealth, prosperity while the rest was distant to that wealth,” he underlined. He said the pandemic helped the richest earn “trillions of dollars” while the majority of people lost their income but this was “not sustainable.”
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