News - September 3, 2018

Influential speakers kick off SDG conference with focus on eradicating hunger

Albert Sikkema

Main speakers Akin Adesina, Paul Polman and Ertharin Cousin pose in front of the conference on sustainable development goals (SDGs) that took place Thursday and Friday on the WUR campus.

© Guy Ackermans

The conference lasted for two days. Around 600 participants discussed how to achieve the second sustainable development goal: Zero Hunger.

Akin Adesina, president of the African Development Bank, indicated that money is not the issue in developing sustainable food systems. According to the former Minister of Agriculture of Nigeria, the main question is: how can we translate money into food, energy and roads?

Paul Polman, CEO at Unilever, was pessimistic about the deforestation, the acidification of the oceans and the increasing inequality around the world, but he saw many opportunities for companies to invest in sustainable development. ‘The sustainable development goals are the main source of income of Unilever.’

Ertharin Cousin, former director of the United Nation’s World Food Programme, thinks that governments, companies and NGOs should collaborate on sustainable food systems. ‘We still lack understanding of partnerships with the private sector, as we only tell them to chase profits’, says the American. ‘They have to make profit, of course, but they can also create jobs and help protect the environment in the process. There are too few people like Paul Polman.’

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