A new report by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) calls for a rural revolution to advance the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The 2019 Global Food Policy Report (GFPR) says rural areas are undeserved compared to urban centres, which is threatening attempts to zero hunger, tackle the climate crisis and achieve all 17 Global Goals. It references the ‘agrarian crisis in India’ and a lack of employment opportunity for young people in Africa among the long list of challenges. While around 45% of the world’s population live in rural locations, it represents 70% of the planet’s extreme poor. Crucially, the report spells out the policies and investments needed to remedy them.

“Revitalising rural areas can stimulate economic growth and begin to address the crises in developing countries, and also tackle challenges holding back achievement of the SDGs and climate goals by 2030,” said Shenggen Fan, director general, IFPRI. “Rural revitalisation is timely, achievable, and, most important, critical to ending hunger and malnutrition in just over a decade.”

The report states that rural areas can become ‘hubs of innovation’ within 10 years; and wants to see the revitalisation underpinned by five building blocks: ‘creating farm and non-farm rural employment opportunities; achieving gender equality; addressing environmental challenges; improving access to energy; and investing in good governance’.