5 November 2018

#SDGsinAcademia - SDG Hub for Goal 2

As part of the ongoing campaign on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) carried out by the United Nations, United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI) presents a series of articles on #SDGSinAcademia featuring the new SDG Hubs for each one of the Goals in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

5 November 2018 - This week our #SDGsinAcademia series features the University of Pretoria (South Africa), a member institution of United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI), that has been chosen as the SDG Hub for Goal 2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture

About the Hub:

The University of Pretoria (UP) is one of five research-intensive universities in South Africa with more than 48,000 enrolled students. The University’s long-term strategy entitled “UP 2025”, is centred on research that addresses societal problems faced by the African continent as a developing region. This includes, among other pressing issues, poverty, environmental change and water, health, food and energy security, governance innovation, and leadership that positions Africa as the hub for continental and global research networks on major developmental and global challenges.

The values established by the university include a commitment to harnessing intellectual abilities in the interest of humanity and a recognition of the need to have graduates who can contribute with the local development.

What is this Hub doing about Goal 2? 

The university hosts a number of SDG 2-related Institutes and Centres and collaborates widely with South African, African and international institutions. The primary coordination structure for this focus is the Institute for Food, Nutrition and Well-being (IFNuW), supported by the African Research Universities Alliance, the Centre of Excellence for Food Security, the Department of Science and Technology and National Research Foundation (DST-NRF), the Centre of Excellence in Food Security (co-hosted with the University of Western Cape), the South African SDG Hub, as well as lead roles in three Feed the Future Innovation Labs (Food Security Policy, Food Processing and Sorghum and Millet), among a number of other initiatives and programmes. 

The institution believes that achieving the targets of SGD 2 is essential to achieving the other Goals within the 2030 Agenda. No country in the world is unaffected by the issues related to hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition. Our rapidly changing and interconnected global food system raises concern over how we overcome malnutrition and the loss of productivity and deprivation attributed to lack of nutrition. 

The IFNuW has pioneered the facilitation of transdisciplinary research in food security and nutrition since it was launched in 2012.  In just five years, it has built an active platform of over 85 academics drawn from 35 departments across the University of Pretoria. This network of passionate experts and their local, continental and international partners are tackling critical issues. Some of its leading projects include: Policy (Informing food security policy); agricultural systems (digital applications for food security; potential of traditional crops; remote sensing to support smarter agriculture; and host-pathogen infection models); and food processing (developing meals from indigenous foods to fight malnutrition; potential health-promoting properties of indigenous commercially produced South African foods and practical solutions for small-scale food processing) among others.

The university offers Master’s and PhD degrees in Food Science, but the institution has prioritized the integration of the SDGs in its curricula across all programs, seeking opportunities for students to interact with the content and application throughout their educational and research programmes. Finally, the university has co-hosted the International Conference on Global Food Security for several years.

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The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2018 reviews progress in the third year of implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It has an overview that presents highlights of progress and remaining gaps for all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), based on the latest available data, and examines some of the interconnections across Goals and targets.

This is the overview provided in the Report about Goal 2: After a prolonged decline, world hunger appears to be on the rise again. Conflict, drought and disasters linked to climate change are among the key factors causing this reversal in progress.

  • The proportion of undernourished people worldwide increased from 10.6 per cent in 2015 to 11.0 per cent in 2016. This translates to 815 million people worldwide in 2016, up from 777 million in 2015.
  • In 2017, 151 million children under age 5 suffered from stunting (low height for their age), 51 million suffered from wasting (low weight for height), and 38 million were overweight.
  • Aid to agriculture in developing countries totalled $12.5 billion in 2016, falling to 6 per cent of all donors’ sector-allocable aid from nearly 20 per cent in the mid-1980s.
  • Progress has been made in reducing market-distorting agricultural subsidies, which were more than halved in five years—from $491 million in 2010 to less than $200 million in 2015.
  • In 2016, 26 countries experienced high or moderately high levels of general food prices, which may have negatively affected food security.

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The following resources provide general information about the SDGs:

  • This is a comprehensive research guide from the UN Library in Geneva listing resources about each one of the Goals, including books and articles (some of which are fully available on line free of charge), UN documents such as resolutions and reports, and additional resources.
  • The SDG Fund has created this online library featuring over 1,000 online publications. The publications are categorized by the Goals they represent, geographical regions and by authors, to facilitate searchability. Each publication also has a short summary attached to it which helps with keyword searches.
  • This selection of tools is an initiative supported by UNDP, UN-HABITAT and the Global Taskforce of Local and Regional Governments, which offers concept notes, papers, case studies, compilation of best practices and guides providing contextual and practical information about the SDGs.
  • This guide, entitled “Getting Started with the Sustainable Development Goals”, is intended for stakeholders and designed by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) to serve as an initial basis for implementing the SDGs.
  • SDSN also developed this guide, entitled “Getting Started with the SDGs in Universities”, to help universities, institutions of higher education and the academic sector in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific to accelerate their contributions to the SDGs by providing practical guidance and examples to inspire further action.

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You can learn more about the SDG Hubs at the UNAI website

Is your institution a member of UNAI and conducting activities and initiatives around Goal 2? Contact us at academicimpact@un.org to tell us about your work and let us connect your university with the SDG Hub! Working together we can make the 2030 Agenda a reality!