President and CEO of The Hunger Project, Åsa Skogström Feldt, presented at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit session on Ending Poverty and Hunger, emphasizing the need to elevate community-led development. Her speech is below.
Your excellencies, dear friends.
I am honored to be here on behalf of millions of rural women, men and youth active in The Hunger Project across Africa, Asia and Latin America.
On this day, at this moment, it truly feels that the vision of a world free from hunger and poverty is within our grasp.
We know that technically the end of hunger and poverty can be achieved. Yet, this has never been primarily a technical challenge. It is a human one.
I believe that people are extraordinary.
When such extraordinary people — both women and men equally — are mobilized to participate as active citizens … And when they act in partnership with effective, accountable institutions at the community level … The result is: profound social and political transformation. This is what is required to achieve the end of hunger and poverty.
Some of our most pressing challenges — women’s economic status, maternal and childhood health, or the invisible crisis of malnutrition — can only be solved with integrated strategies at the community level. We must move away from top-down, siloed and short-term projects.
There is a distinct approach for transforming this situation. It is what we call “Community-led Development.” It is a holistic, bottom-up, sustained process that restores women, men and youth in taking control over their own lives.
Using this approach, we have seen:
- Women and youth becoming active leaders of change.
- Grassroots organizations making voices heard.
- Creation of vibrant, inclusive economies.
- And effective, accountable local government.
Today, I am proud to invite all who are interested to join us in launching a new initiative: the Movement for Community-led Development.
In this movement, stakeholders are coming together to elevate Community-led Development on the international policy agenda. We seek to learn from one another and call forth the policies and budgets required to empower communities.
In The Hunger Project, we start mobilizing communities with a process of Vision, Commitment and Action. Well, our world now has a vision. Today, we have all demonstrated our commitment. Now, is the time for each and every one of us to step up our action.
Let us strengthen communities so that all people can take charge of their own destiny. The bottom line: the Sustainable Development Goals will only be achieved if they are achieved by people working together in communities.