‘Global hunger: progress has stalled’

Sir, – It should come as no surprise that the United Nations anticipates the elimination of hunger by 2030 to be "extremely difficult" ("The Irish Times view on global hunger: progress has stalled", July 17th).

The Sustainable Development Goals were neither designed nor equipped to address the fundamental cause of social and economic inequality in the world today: neoliberal economics. The fractured economic model that unravelled so spectacularly in 2008 remains the dominant development template in the global North and South, despite warnings from the IMF that a dangerously deregulated world economy is at risk of another financial meltdown.

The Sustainable Development Goals are fatally hitched to the same tried and failed economic system that perpetuates poverty and has resulted, according to Oxfam, in 26 billionaires controlling the same wealth as the poorest half of humanity. No amount of additional development aid will eradicate hunger if crucial services – health, housing, education, food security – are left to the vagaries of the market. We know, too, that the climate crisis is driven by the market’s unsustainable consumption of fossil fuels.

The international development sector needs to grasp this nettle and start acting with unity and purpose to address the defining issue of our era.


The Sustainable Development Goals, for all their good intentions, can only tinker around the edges. – Yours, etc,




Centre for Global Education,


Sir, – It is shocking to learn from the UN that more than 820 million people are going hungry in the world. The Irish Times editorial lamenting this state of affairs attributed it in large part to a shortage of food and a reduction in foreign aid. Surely it is now widely recognised that these are fallacies. NGOs and researchers have repeatedly shown that more food is produced than is required to feed the world’s population, and that hunger is caused by poverty and inequality, not scarcity. A clear illustration of this is that one-sixth of Americans don’t have enough food to eat.

Equally, it’s a mistake to focus on aid as the solution, when those countries depending on it are locked into an unequal relationship with the donors, and subject to trade tariffs and quotas imposed by the same countries that purport to be helping them.

The Irish Times editorial proposed “a sustained global focus backed up with resources” as the solution to world hunger. Inevitably, this will amount to more aid with strings attached, onerous loans, and foreign direct investment that benefits overwhelmingly the investors.

The poor and hungry of the world will hopefully find another way, one that takes into account the advice of the radical Guyanese historian and activist Walter Rodney – offered nearly half a century ago in his influential book How Europe Underdeveloped Africa – that escaping the trap of underdevelopment “is possible only on the basis of a radical break with the international capitalist system”. – Yours, etc,




Co Cork.