How do the UN food agencies work together to end world hunger? What are the strengths and complementarities of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and the World Food Programme (WFP)? How are civil society organizations involved? What are the main differences between working for intergovernmental organizations and non-governmental, non-profit organizations?
These are some of the questions that Rodney Hunter, Deputy Permanent Representative and Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Mission to the UN Agencies in Rome, answered on 15 February in a conversation with Dr. Maria Grazia Quieti, Director of the MA Food Studies, and AUR students. Rodney Hunter discussed the role of the United States and UN agencies in eradicating world hunger and offered advice to students considering careers in humanitarian and international development.
He emphasized that global hunger has been dramatically exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing war in Ukraine. The United States, Hunter stated, plays an important role in supporting FAO's long-term development efforts, WFP's humanitarian work, and IFAD's financial assistance to small farmers. "A reliable global partner, the United States is the largest donor to all three agencies," he added.
Hunter emphasized that world food security is a national and global security issue. Climate change is one of the major factors contributing to food insecurity, but Rodney believed that it could also unite nations in fighting global hunger. Climate change has and will continue to affect every nation and every sector of employment, not just food security. International climate conferences like COP26 are a step in the right direction, but countries must dramatically improve their climate efforts and move beyond national interests to make tangible progress.
Progress on inclusivity regarding gender equality, LGBTQ+ rights, and other minority groups must be significantly improved to develop global food security. Minority groups are among the first to experience inequalities in access to food. UN agencies are working hard to remain aware of these issues. One of the most important ways to progress is by creating an open dialogue space.
Rodney Hunter's career has taken him from working in theater to the Peace Corps to a role in the Foreign Service. His advice to students is to work in a field they are passionate about, whether a career in government or civil society. Most importantly, stay positive and focus on the accomplishments that have been made to end global hunger to continue to create impactful change.
Report by student Alyssa Perez (MA Food Studies).