While the right to food is a basic human right, food insecurity is a serious problem around the world. The global evidence is clear. Countries that make investments in agricultural development are better equipped to eliminate hunger, reduce rates of undernourishment and accelerate their economies. What's more, increased farm incomes stimulate employment both on farms and in the broader community. Further, the World Bank found that GDP growth originating from agricultural development is twice as effective in reducing poverty as GDP growth stemming from alternative industries.
The World Bank's ambitious goal to end poverty by 2030 requires large transformations in the global political economy so everyone has a chance for a better life. According to World Bank President, Jim Kim, defeating poverty requires a surmounting push from $131 billion dedicated to development, to a trillion dollars.
Hidden hunger is the type of hunger where the belly is full but the body is still hungry for nutrition. Poverty and nutrition are two sides of the same coin. Poverty often determines food choices. Although it is possible to make choices of what foods to buy on a limited budget, many nutritious foods are simply not affordable or accessible.
In the 2015 federal budget, the Canadian government announced its intention to create a $300-million initiative to encourage private investment, job creation and growth that will fight extreme poverty in developing countries. Canada is the last G7 country to create a public arm to support private investment in development. Some of our counterparts have been in this business for over 50 years, doing good and making money at the same time.This initiative looks even tardier when one considers that successive Canadian governments since the early Trudeau era have bandied about the idea of creating a public entity to catalyze more private capital for development.
2015 promises to be a transformative year on the international development front and is therefore an appropriate time to reflect on a noteworthy milestone. The United Nations enters its 70th year -- and like some 70-year-olds, the beleaguered UN has found new vigour and relevance in people's lives, with Canada playing a role in some noteworthy accomplishments.
Canada is the only G7 country that doesn't have a publicly-owned, profit-driven development finance institution (DFI) that can help private business invest in jobs, growth and markets in low-income countries. We're not just missing an opportunity to raise people out of poverty: we're also missing a chance to build Canadian business while earning returns for Canada's stretched taxpayers.
When hundreds of girls are kidnapped in Nigeria, disappearing into the night for months and counting, the world is outraged. When boys are handed guns and forced into militias, the world is shocked. When children work as slave labourers in mines, there are global cries for action. But these atrocities are only part of the picture.
In a new global report conducted by Plan entitled Hear Our Voices, we spoke with more than 7,000 adolescent girls and boys from 11 countries in Asia, Africa, Central and South America. We wanted to learn more about what issues and concerns adolescent girls faced and how boys felt about those issues too.
Some six million children under the age of five die every year and there are still nearly 300,000 maternal deaths annually. It all comes down to the political will and necessary funds to make it happen. Canada is a recognized leader in both. In May, Canada committed a further $3.5 billion over five years to help eliminate these unnecessary deaths.
Every August, I write a blog directed at readers doing back-to-school shopping for their kids. I remind them that while the sales are great at this time of year, there's a story behind every price tag. I urge moms and dads to consider the global economy that keeps Western prices low by paying child garment workers in poor countries next to nothing.
We tend to assume that the tourists who abuse children are pedophiles, people with a clinical disorder and an exclusive sexual inclination for pre-pubescent children. We imagine them carefully planning their trips, with children front and centre. But the fact is, the majority of child sex tourists are in fact "situational offenders". They're presented with a situation where they can have sexual contact with a child, and they seize it. The anonymity of being a tourist or traveler often influences their decision, convincing them that they won't get caught.
As we mark World Refugee Day, the latest figures indicate that more than 50-million human beings alive today have been forcibly displaced from their homes. Whether they're refugees, asylum-seekers, or people displaced within their own countries, these individuals had no choice but to leave the places they once held so dear.
One year ago on April 24, the Rana Plaza garment factory in Bangladesh collapsed, crushing the life out of more than 1,100 people. The disaster prompted huge outcry on the streets of Bangladesh, and around the world. As a society of shoppers, we did demand the rock-bottom prices that helped create the demand for cheaper and cheaper labour. I've never felt more culpable than when standing in the ruins of Rana Plaza last week.
When Parliament reconvenes on October 16, all eyes will be on Stephen Harper's "new" agenda as articulated in the Speech from the Throne. What role will international development play in this speech -- and will it matter? I believe that the most important decisions on the international development agenda continue to be made quietly and behind closed doors, with no public scrutiny.