Goal 2: Zero Hunger

What a world we’d live in if hunger was a problem of the past. 

It is hard to believe sometimes that, despite all of the abundance we see around us every day, the choices we face regarding what our taste buds crave, the amounts of food we see wasted as a result of excesses, millions go to bed hungry. 

And yet, in 2019, the elimination of hunger remains a goal – a global goal.

Every goal in the 17 SDGs seems almost utopian on the surface. Luckily every goal also comes with the key metrics and specifics targets that help lead governments and individuals alike to align their strategies, measure their progress, and lay out specific areas that must be worked on to achieve them. 

The Sustainable Development Goals continue to have a massive impact on the work we do at AM&A. Why? Because every day through our work we try to make the connection between Tourism and why the SDGs matter. From Anita’s presentations to tourism leaders around the globe, to shaping the strategies we suggest to clients, the Global Goals must be at the center of what we do – particularly in Tourism. With every goal we interpret, with every goal we implement into our daily lives, it becomes more and more clear how needed, how urgent, how impactful the Sustainable Development Goals can be for our future. 

SDG #2 is one of the first that forces you, me, all of us, to deeply consider its practical meaning. I don’t know what it is to be hungry. To be honest, I’ve always struggled with the other side of the spectrum – eating too much. Growing up in a low-income family, the food wasn’t always nutritious, but it was always readily available. I can’t think of any society or culture that doesn’t revolve around food: dinner on the table brings families together after a long day, it breaks through cultural, political and linguistic barriers, and connects us when celebrating life’s momentous moments. Whether in Thanksgiving, matrimony, celebrations of faith, or even death – food is often at the heart.

And its presence can be taken for granted – healthy or not, abundant or not.

Yet, so many people on the planet struggle to get enough food to even survive. This basic human need is not being met for 821 million around the world who are chronically malnourished. 90 million of those are children under 5. 

Today we are going to talk about Goal 2 of the Sustainable Development Goals: Zero Hunger. Meeting this goal will end all forms of hunger and malnutrition by 2030 and ensure that all people, especially children, have sufficient and nutritious food all year long. 

This involves promoting sustainable agricultural, supporting small-scale farmers and equal access to land, technology and markets. It also requires international cooperation to ensure investment in infrastructure and technology to improve agricultural productivity.

Nobody should miss out on a childhood, going to school, or a future because of hunger. Particularly when there is just so much to go around. 

Why does hunger exist?

Just as we learned when discussing Goal 1: No Poverty, global inequality is shocking.  

1 in 8 adults around the world are obese. In the US and Europe, the number is hardly surprising, in Western developed nations the numbers jump to 1 in 3.  While food security is an issue for families globally, 2/3rds of undernourished people worldwide live in only two regions: Sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia. 

But why is there such a disconnect between the over-fed and under-fed?

Famines, food shortages/crises typically caused by drought or war, are responsible for the most severe cases of global starvation. According to the United Nations, there is a famine if: 

  • 20% of households suffer from extreme food shortages,
  • 30% of the population is acutely malnourished; and
  • Two out of every 10,000 people, or four children, die daily from food shortages.

Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, and Yemen are in hunger crisis with 20 million at risk of starvation and death. Armed conflict and climate change are the main culprits. Droughts have caused fields to go dry, cattle to die, and starvation to become the norm. Additionally, as of 2017, 37 countries depended on food aid – 28 of which are located in Africa. 

Population growth, debt, corruption, and disease also contribute to the inability of some countries to produce enough food for their citizens.

what is the effect of hunger?

The Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations says that chronic hunger happens if a person’s daily energy intake for an extended period of time is below what they need for a healthy and active life’. This typically equates to less than 1,800 calories a day. Using this measure, 226.7 million people are starving in Africa alone. 

Hunger isn’t just about malnutrition, it has a far reaching effect on every part of life. Hunger stunts brain development and can be a major obstacle for children who don’t have the energy to reach school or the concentration to digest material. Many children are also forced to leave education to help support their families. Without an education, there are less people to enter the workforce and contribute to their country’s development. 

It’s a vicious circle, but one that we can break.

is zero hunger achievable?

Up until 2017, the number of people suffering from hunger was on a major decline. Between 1990 to 2015, global hunger dropped by almost half – in large part to the UN’s Millenium Goals. Unfortunately over the past couple years the numbers are steadily increasing again – particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa. 

But hope is not lost. With world leaders committed to ending world hunger by 2030, and individuals like us doing what we can in our own communities, the future looks positive. It’s been estimated that we could end world hunger permanently at a cost of $30 billion a year. That may seem like a lot, but to put it in perspective the US spends $737 billion a year on defense alone. According to the UN if we put $160 per person a year living in extreme poverty, world hunger would be completely eradicated by 2030. 

Most of us don’t have that kind of pocket change lying around, and per person sponsorships aren’t feasible, but we can make small, conscious actions that can add up to make a big difference.  Here are some ways that we as individuals can end world hunger.

actionable ways for individuals to end world hunger

1. Shop Purposefully
When we spoke about Goal 1: Eliminating Poverty, we learned that the UK’s largest food bank gave away 1.6 million packs of food supplies – a 19% annual increase from 2017. More and more people in communities around the world are having to rely on additional provisions to make ends meet. 

When you do your weekly shop, add one or two extra items for food bank donation. Many grocery stores in the UK have a food donation box at the end of the check-outs area. Check to see if your local store offers a collection point, and if they don’t – consider setting one up with a local charity. It’s such a low-effort way to make a big difference to locals in your area. 

Reach out to your local food bank or organisations working to feed the community and ask how you can donate. If we all added two items of food to our weekly shop, this would amount to 104 food items that could entirely eliminate food insecurity for a local family.

Shop online? Online grocery shopping is the fastest growing purchase channel, in both value and growth. (I probably do 1/4th of my shopping online in any given month.) While you can still add-on items for food donation, if you’re more of an online type person, you can also donate to charities through their websites who have fighting world hunger in their core mission.

A wonderful example is Mary’s Meals, a charity that provides life-changing meals to some of the world’s poorest children every day that they attend school. Only £13.90 (approx. $17.85) provides one child with a meal a day for a year. For every US$ 1 you give, 93c is spent directly on their charitable activities. Today they feed over 1 million children a day. Think about it – for less than US 10c a day a child is fed, unlocking their ability to learn, to grow, to be hopeful. If you happen to live in Scotland, Mary’s Meals has seven charity shops where you can donate your unwanted goods that will be sold and converted into food for hungry children worldwide. 

2. Encourage Food Share

Food waste is a root cause of world hunger worldwide, global food waste could feed the world’s hungry four times over. Globally we waste 1.3 billion tonnes of food every year, that’s about 1/3rd of the total amount of food produced for human consumption. In short, there’s enough food for everyone. 

More businesses than ever are now actively working towards cutting down or eliminating their food waste. Put your money into businesses that you know are doing their part to fight waste and hunger in your community. In the US alone, 43 billion pounds of food is thrown away by grocery stores. In the UK, it’s estimated that restaurants and cafes throw away approximately 320 million fresh meals a year. 

Friends of Champions 12.3 is a group of CEOs who are leading progress to achieve the UN’s SDGs target 12.3: Global Food Loss and Waste as part of Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production. While there are not near enough big companies who’ve made the pledge, there are some that may be local to you who are doing their part.

Aldi for example has committed to halving their operational food waste by 2030. Last year in the UK they donated over 2 million meals through local organisations. They’ve also looked at their supply chain and have been actively reducing waste by not purchasing it in the first place. 

You can see the full list of members in the Friends of Champions 12.3 here.

If you do a quick Google search of your local grocery store name + food waste, you should get a result for their policies and efforts. If not, reach out. Consumers drive what businesses ultimately value: let them know it matters to you. 

Of course, limiting your own food waste is important as well. Meal planning is a great way to ensure that you only buy what you need. Bring a list, and stick to it.  Utilise your leftovers by putting them toward additional meals or incorporating them into a recipe in a new way – be inventive! 

3. Eat Local and Seasonally

There are some fresh food items we love to buy year-round. I, for example, love avocados – which unsurprisingly is not a fruit that grows well in the UK climate. The simple avocado that I grew up eating like apples doesn’t just appear in the UK – most of mine are plastered with a sticker showing their origin as Mexico. Firstly it needs to be grown – due to supply and demand this now trending fruit has contributed to massive deforestation, greenhouse and carbon emissions (from both growing on a massive scale and transporting) and has affected local water supplies. An avocado toast on a Saturday morning always feels like a great choice, and I’m not saying let’s put a ban on guacamole, but we need to consider the socio-economic impact of our food choices. 

Farmers in developing nations actually make up a majority of the world’s hungriest and poorest people. The World Economic Forum estimates that 500 million small farms produce 80% of food for the developing world. Due to unfair trade policies as well as industrialised nations moving production to these affected regions and taking away supply chains, rural farmers are left in hunger. War, famine, and other outside influences also affect these stats, but how is it that those who grow our food are going without? 

Instinctively I thought that by choosing to buy seasonally I’d be taking away what business these farmers have, creating a negative impact on their livelihoods. It turns out though, in most cases, that if there is money to be made, someone bigger is going in and producing at such large volumes that smaller farmers can’t compete with price competition, market access or profit. (Food and Agricultural Organization) If their own communities are buying locally, and we are following suit, there is more than enough food to be produced for the hungry without shipping it out in bulk to those of us already living in excess. The exception to this, are the nations we discussed earlier, such as those in Sub-Saharan Africa, where outside influences such as climate have made agricultural  production impossible. 

Food tastes better in season, and supporting your local farmers is important for the agricultural development and success in your own community. Challenge your food choices, explore new varieties, and find ways to increase the positive impact of foods you consume. 
You can find out what produce grows when in your area by using this map from Epicurious.

As I was reading about world hunger, there was an obvious cross-over with Goal 1: No Poverty. It’s logical: if you are living in extreme poverty, you aren’t getting enough food to eat either. Especially the right, healthy food. 

We highly encourage you to go back and read about ways we can eliminate poverty if you haven’t yet had the chance. The SDGs don’t work alone – the 17 Goals are interrelated, interdependent. If we eliminate poverty, hunger would likely topple as a result. And when one SDG is addressed, the rest are given the nudge they need to step forward towards solutions that make today’s fundamental challenges history.

We as a global community have so much work to do. Our shared world hungers for action. 

Let’s continue to work together, continue to make small changes in our everyday lives. It doesn’t need to be an overnight transformation – if we cannot sustain the positive impact we risk doing even greater damage. 

Goal #2 matters, to millions. We need to be purposeful as we continue to consider ways that we, as individuals, together, can contribute to the SDGs towards 2030. 

I’d like to invite you to take this journey with me, and AM&A, as I explore the 17 sustainable development goals. Each month we’ll focus on one goal and explore actionable ways that we as individuals can change the world. 

Let’s #MakeTravelMatter




In my role as lead of Marketing at ANITA MENDIRATTA & Associates, I’m exposed to global diplomacy and high-level tourism development on a daily basis. Leaders leading, in different ways in different countries and contexts, with different levels of influence and impact, across the globe. The transition from working on the customer focused side of the tourism industry to now my current, more globally-orientated position, has been a learning curve. I’m slowly learning how to make words matter, and how to speak so that people listen. I can feel my perspective widening, AM&A’s trust in my instincts growing. All necessary components to any worthwhile journey. Thanks to the guidance of Anita, the gaps are being filled. 

Anita asked me to write a piece on the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), particularly why it matters. If you’ve been following along with our Living the SDGs project, we’ve been looking at how individuals like you and I can contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and make a difference. The SDGs were a key talking point in this year’s UNGA, so our understanding of the purpose, function, and outputs of the General Assembly will aid our journey moving forward.

I never paid much attention to the UNGA in previous years beyond the major headlines. My closest encounter with the inner-workings of the UN was my stint as Australia and Côte d’Ivoire, respectively, with Model United Nations during University. 

Coverage of this year’s UNGA seemed heightened. Possibly in part due to a spitfire Swedish teen, or possibly because of the growing awareness and importance of global issues amongst the general population. Either way, the 2019 General Assembly has now concluded. But what happens when the world leaders come together and why does it matter? 


What is the United Nations General Assembly?

The General Assembly of the United Nations meets together in New York City annually, 2019’s meeting marked the 74th session since the UN was founded in 1945. With 193 member states represented, as well as ‘non-member observer states’ such as the Vatican and European Union, it is a time for small and large nations alike to come together and be heard. Unlike the UN Security Council, which is made up of the US, China, the UK, France and Russia, members of the General Assembly do not pass binding resolutions. 

As the world’s most prominent diplomatic stage, the General Assembly offers world leaders a forum to debate the biggest global issues, domestic threats and concerns, and international peace and security. From climate change to humanitarian crises to territorial disputes – everything finds its way to the ‘table’. And leaders seek to secure a seat at the table where they feel an impact can be made, and felt. 

While the UNGA may not pass actionable laws, many of the resolutions that have come out of it have made a major impact. For example, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, that set the first global standard for human rights. The Millenium Declaration in 2000 that set actionable targets to reduce poverty and improve access to education amongst other goals. (Read more about the Millenium Goals here.) And, of course, the Sustainable Development Goals in 2015, that gave us the 17 SDGs to work towards until 2030. 

The General Debate

The main component of the UNGA is called the General Debate. This year’s theme was “Galvanizing multilateral efforts for poverty eradication, quality education, climate action and inclusion”. 

Each member state is given 15 minutes to address the UNGA, although the recommended time is rarely adhered to. (Fun fact: Indian defense minister V.K. Krishna Menon holds the record for longest UN speech ever, he spoke for  7 hours 48 minutes in 1957.) 

Brazil is first to take the stage, a tradition earned in the early days of the UN General Assembly when the nation always volunteered to speak first. Brazil is followed by the United States as host country, and then the remaining member states who all have their turn based on “ level of representation, preference and other criteria such as geographic balance.”

Although it’s called the General Debate, there isn’t actually much debating. Speakers can discuss any topic of importance to their government, although they generally align their speeches with the overall theme for that year. 

What was new in 2019?

The priority this year was Climate Action, and heads of state and government came together for the Climate Action Summit.  UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres requested that countries who wished to speak during the summit only did so if they have “concrete and transformative plans” to halt rising global temperatures, achieve carbon neutrality and cut carbon emissions by 45 percent. And even then, they only had three minutes.

Much like the Sustainable Development Goals, climate action can not be solved by the UN body alone or any of the member states who have made it a top priority. All members must come together, pressuring those who take the state of the planet less seriously, to collectively strategise ways to fight global warming and cut carbon emissions within their own respective countries. 

According to researchers, if we want to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees celsius, the world needs to cut greenhouse emissions in half by 2030. The goal is massive, particularly because most current climate action commitments don’t come close to meeting the goal. This year, 65 countries pledged to increase their climate targets. While a positive step, the new commitments only limit global warming to between 2.7 and 3.7 degrees celsius – far above the goal’s threshold. The UN has two upcoming climate conferences, one later this year and one in 2020, which will give members another opportunity to increase their commitments. As individuals, we can contribute to climate action in our day to day lives alongside world leaders, read more about Goal 13: Climate Action here.  

Here are some of the highlights from the Climate Action Summit. 

  •  Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that he would more than double the target for his country’s renewable energy to a goal of 450 gigawatts. As one of the world’s biggest emitters of greenhouse gases, this was a positive step. 


  • Members of the Green Climate Fund, money that helps developing nations with their climate efforts, pledged to double their current contributions – bringing the fund to $7 billion. 


  • 32 members, 25 subnational governments, and 34 businesses committed to opening no more coal plants after 2020. 

And then there was ‘that speech’ that made all the difference….

Why was this year different?

The Greta factor. The 15 year old Swedish student who began protesting for climate justice by herself outside the Swedish parliament just over one year ago, is now a familiar face in the headlines. 

She arrived in New York for the GA  in novel style, opting to spend two weeks travelling by a zero-emissions boat rather than taking an airplane. Since landing in the US, she’s been on every talk show, met with President Obama, and even addressed the U.S. Senate. Her address at the UN went viral, as she urged world leaders to take climate action more seriously. 

While Greta has undoubtedly elevated the urgency of climate action, it is the world’s youth who have taken her message and demonstrated a level of activism unprecedented in recent history. Millions of people took to the streets all over the world ahead of the GA, and the following week, to strike against climate change. The protests took place in an estimated 185 countries, and even included a small showing of scientists in Antarctica. Youth, those under 18, have championed the cause. Striking, and missing school, to call on world leaders to protect their planet and future. 

“Yesterday millions of people across the globe marched and demanded real climate action, especially young people. We showed that we are united and we young people are unstoppable.” – Greta Thunberg

 Watch Greta’s ‘How Dare You?’ speech below.

I went with my own daughter to the Climate Strike in London, and even though I’ve been to my fair share of protests through the years, I was surprised by the energy, passion and anger of the younger generations. When you see a 12 year old girl with pigtails calling for justice, you know that change is coming.

The SDGs

The SDG Summit took centre stage during the first two days of the General Debate. This involved present heads of state and government following up and reviewing their implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The SDG Summit was the first official event dedicated to the SDGs since the agenda was adopted in 2015, four years ago.

The GA took a look at data and trends from within some of the specific goals such as extreme poverty, child mortality rates, and water and electricity access in rural areas. This gave members a chance to step back and see where progress has been made, but also look at where there are still major shortcomings. The biggest message to come out of the summit was that all members are off track to meet the goals by 2030 – but that there is still time. 

The political declaration, “Gearing up for a Decade of Action and Delivery for Sustainable Development”, set a clear message for the next decade: planning time is over, now we need action. Several actions or commitments were made by member states in response. 

  • Finland pledged to achieve carbon neutrality by 2035.

  • Mexico pledged to deliver internet access to all citizens, including vulnerable communities.

  • President Salih of Iraq spoke about using the SDGs as a framework for rebuilding his country after years of conflict. Creating jobs for youth, good governance for all citizens, and combating corruption were mentioned as priorities. 

Collaboration between the public and private sector is paramount for progress, achieving the SDGs without ‘partnerships for the goals’ is not possible.  “Private sector companies hold the key,” remarked Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the summit. The private sector played a key role during the summit, these are some of the highlights. 

  • The UN Global Compact, a corporate sustainability group, released a report calling on the private sector to do their part. 

  • Mastercard reiterated their commitment to the SDGs, with plans in progress to bring nearly 500 million people in deeply impoverished regions into the banking system.

  • Danone, along with 19 other companies such as Kellogg and Nestlé, launched an initiative to protect biodiversity. Particularly: eliminate deforestation, protect natural ecosystems, boost regenerative farming, and become less reliant on overused crops. 

With only a decade left, UN Secretary General António Gutteres’s opening words said it best.  “We are far from where we need to be…We are off track.” But with new commitments, and a much needed refocus, there is still time to achieve the goals if words turn to action. 

So, why does the UN General Assembly matter?

Of everything I’ve learned from the Sustainable Development Goals thus far, the importance of working together to create change is without a doubt the number one takeaway. One committed nation can’t stop global poverty. One advocate for climate change can’t stop the rising temperatures. One leader can’t deliver world peace.

The UN General Assembly matters because of the opportunity it gives the world to work together, to learn from one another, and to organise for the betterment of humanity. Multilaterism is defined as multiple countries working together to pursue a common goal, and this is the purpose of the UN GA at its core. Countries can disagree with one another for most of the year, but when they come together at the GA it gives everyone an opportunity to step back, if even for a day, and mobilise around issues in which they find common ground. 

UN General Assembly President Tijjani Muhammad‑Bande of Nigeria concluded this year’s session with the following:

“In a highly polarized world, multilateralism is the only guarantee of peace, security and sustainable development. The world will not survive for long unless we cultivate the give-and-take spirit, which is a distinct and defining attribute of multilateralism.”

It isn’t perfect. Commitments don’t always turn into actions and not everyone will get along. But in a world with increasing threats to security and stability, a growing refugee crisis, trade wars and political uncertainty, any event that brings us all together –  particularly to make that world a better and safer place – matters. 

Goal 1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere

Goal 1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere

As I began getting into each of the 17 SDGS, I found myself struggling with the sheer weight of some of the goals – particularly this very first one. So, I spoke with my team at ANITA MENDIRATTA & Associates. Anita, President and Founder of AM&A, told me to be honest (as I was in the intro piece) – I should share my struggles, share my revelations, and don’t be afraid to admit when I just have no idea what to do. I found that this released me in a way, and allowed me to approach the goals in both naivety and an eagerness to learn and understand.

I suspect I am not the only one that looks at some of the SDGs and wonders “how can I, as one person, possibly make a difference?” Which is why, as we continue this journey together, I hope you’ll find patience in my own learning evolution, enabling you too to learn lessons from the supportive voices at AM&A.

goal 1: no poverty


The first goal of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals is No Poverty. What a colossal goal to start our Living the SDGs journey. It being #1 is, however, not by chance. According to the United Nations, as of 2019 there are over 700 million people worldwide living in extreme poverty – that’s 1 out of 10 of us and 1 out of 5 children. How, in our ever-advancing world, can this be? And how do you even begin to make actionable changes to lift 700 million people out of poverty? 

When I first began thinking about Goal 1, and what it instinctively means to me, I found that I clearly associated the word ‘poverty’ with someone who is ‘poor’. It’s an easy association to make, especially when you read that those living in extreme poverty survive on less than $1.90 a day. That’s less than $60 a month, about the same amount I spent at the grocery store yesterday for food – some we didn’t even need. 

But, poverty isn’t as simple as a distinction between people who have money and people who don’t. Technically speaking, and according to The World Bank Group, it is described in this way:

“Poverty is hunger. Poverty is lack of shelter. Poverty is being sick and not being able to see a doctor. Poverty is not having access to school and not knowing how to read. Poverty is not having a job, is fear for the future, living one day at a time.”

Importantly, poverty can exist simply because you were born in a certain area of the world or because you don’t have access to clean water. Poverty can happen as a result of social or gender inequality or even a lack of healthcare access. Most of the families living in poverty are employed, and work arduously long hours, and still barely survive. It may surprise you that 8% of employed workers and their families live in extreme poverty. That means over 80% of people in this situation spend their every waking hour trying to get out of it – to no avail. 

How do you measure poverty?

I read articles all the time about people in the US or UK who are living in poverty, and I’ve seen it first-hand in London, but the stories we read are still a far cry from those in developing countries where there is mass starvation, no access to education, no sanitation, ect. (Not saying one is more worthy than the other, poverty and the inequalities closer to home are still extremely important to address.) How is poverty measured? 

In 1995, the United Nations adopted two definitions of poverty. 

Absolute poverty is defined as : a condition characterised by severe deprivation of basic human needs, including food, safe drinking water, sanitation facilities, health, shelter, education and information. It depends not only on income but also on access to services. 

Absolute poverty often comes with starvation, suffering, and premature death and is an urgent call to action. 

Overall poverty is defined more broadly: lack of income and productive resources to ensure sustainable livelihoods; hunger and malnutrition; ill health; limited or lack of access to education and other basic services; increased morbidity and mortality from illness; homelessness and inadequate housing; unsafe environments and social discrimination and exclusion. It is also characterised by lack of participation in decision making and in civil, social and cultural life. It occurs in all countries: as mass poverty in many developing countries, pockets of poverty amid wealth in developed countries, loss of livelihoods as a result of economic recession, sudden poverty as a result of disaster or conflict, the poverty of low-wage workers, and the utter destitution of people who fall outside family support systems, social institutions and safety nets.

Otherwise, those who are not living in the minimum acceptable standards within the society they live.

How would you eliminate poverty?

So, this brings back to my core question: how can I, as one person, help achieve SDG #1 – No Poverty?

I’ve been reaching out to my friends in the travel community, asking them a very simple question. If you were in charge and had the power to eliminate poverty, what steps would you take? What initiatives would you start? How would you make ‘no poverty’ a reality?

As you might expect, I had a variety of responses – from blank stares to laughter, but for some of those I asked – the question was heavy. I could see the cogs turning, the creative juices flowing, and these participants in my social survey came out with some truly inspiring ideas. 

The truth is, it’s really a complicated question. You can’t just decide to lift up one group of people without considering the others. Many people responded with ‘provide women in poverty with skills and education’, which I find entirely logical. That was until a friend who lives in Morocco shared with me that women empowerment initiatives were gaining steam in her country, but nobody was working on encouraging the local boys to support them as well. When girls from the programs got married, they didn’t have the same support system in place that was being pushed elsewhere and the problem wasn’t being solved.

Not so simple after all.

Actionable Ways for Individuals to End Poverty

My social survey came up with some interesting ideas for eradicating poverty, some more far-fetched than others. Abolish all borders, provide equal access to education, buy local, add more libraries, create a course for any would-be travellers to help them understand that we are all the same – only our cultures and customs differ. 

Some took it even further with suggestions such as simplifying setup of and reducing tariffs for local business registration. Making it easier, and encouraging, for locals to get involved with increased tourism. Or adding a tourism sustainability metric to websites like Tripadvisor, so tourists can make more informed travel decisions and make sure their purchases and travels support the local economies they visit. (A brilliant idea actually!)  

While my q&a with my peers didn’t provide me with the secret answer to eliminating poverty to pass on to you, it did teach me a couple things:

First, so many more people care than you’d think. They may not even realise it themselves. Some of those I asked looked at me like I had asked how I could get to the moon on the city bus.This was almost always followed by careful consideration and a very thoughtful answer. 

Secondly, we don’t often walk around asking big questions as conversation starters. But maybe we should. After the initial discomfort, I had some truly inspiring conversations with people. Others loved it from the word go, and were excited to stop the small talk and discuss global issues that matter – hypothetical or otherwise. 

1. Let’s talk about poverty (and everything else!)

Have the ‘weird’ conversations. Don’t be afraid to ask people their opinions on topics that matter to you. They may have insight into something you had never considered, and you can take the opportunity to educate others. 

The more I get into the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, the more I feel the stats heavy on my soul. I say that as lightly and honest as I can, but the truth is I take this project very seriously and that means taking on the responsibility of my words. According to UNICEF, 22,000 children die EVERY DAY due to poverty. Just let that sink in for a minute. I can’t save 22,000 children from dying every single day on my own, trust me,I’ve mulled over the possibilities. But I can have the conversation. 

I can hear you saying “poverty is not the best networking topic”, but why not? I’ve done the legwork for you – it works. Sure, not every person, particularly those you’ve never met before, will meet you half-way. Most will. If you don’t want to discuss global issues in a socially constrained scenario, talk to your friends and your family.  Give others the benefit of the doubt, take the leap, most of us want the world to be a better place. Let’s bring our voices together. Let’s talk about diversity, accessibility, privilege, and using our travels to make a difference. 

 Every conversation plants a seed, and those seeds can grow into action. 

2. Empower local communities when you travel

How many trips do you take a year? Working within the travel industry, I probably have a slightly skewed view of the average. But let’s say you take one trip abroad every year. How do make sure every dollar you spend supports locals in that economy? 

We need to ask the questions:

  • How do you ensure that those souvenirs at the market are supporting local craftsmen and were not imported from elsewhere? 
  • How do you know whether that village a tour group is taking you to is empowering the people or suffocating them?

These aren’t trick questions. As we become more and more conscious of travelling responsibly, we need to do our research. It can be done, and it can make a big difference. 

Ensuring our holiday money supports those wages, especially as a collective group of global citizens on a mission for change, could be life-changing. According to the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development), a 10 per cent increase in a country’s average income will reduce the poverty rate by between 20 and 30 per cent. 

Here are some easy tips for empowering local communities when we travel:

  • Most big companies should have a responsible tourism policy. Look it up. If you can’t find it, ask before you book. 
  • Do your research. Take the time to read up on different cultures and activities in the region, particularly if you are visiting indigenous tribes or impoverished areas. Don’t wait until you’ve already paid and visited to realise you’ve made an unethical choice. 
  • Hire local guides and tour companies. Read reviews online, email ahead of time to ask how they use the money/support the communities you’ll be visiting.
  • Purchasing souvenirs should be stimulating for the economy, respectful of locals and leave a neutral impact. (ie don’t buy rare collectibles important to the nation’s heritage, animal/natural products that shouldn’t leave.) Many destinations have local cooperatives or artisan workshops where you can buy directly from the person who made it. If you can’t find these, ask questions. 

3. Don’t forget local poverty

When discussing global poverty, it is typically the ‘absolute poverty’ we imagine. Emotive charity advertising has ingrained imagery of starving children living in faraway places in the minds of anyone with a television. Those commercials are often our first exposure to poverty in the west. But consider these stats.

  • 12.7% of Americans live in poverty, approximately 40.6 million people (The metrics for measuring poverty in this case are based on income.)
  • More than 4 million people in the UK live in deep poverty, with an income level 50% or more below the poverty line threshold. 

These families may attend the same schools as your children and live in the same community, but they are struggling. 

I always find travelling in developing countries incredibly humbling. You quickly appreciate your ability to buy food just because you want to try it, to have hot running water in your hotel room every evening, and your freedom to go back to the ‘luxuries’ of home. 

But, it’s important to remember that not everyone around you has the same access. The battle against poverty can be happening right next door, literally.

In London (I use this example as it’s my home), many families struggle to feed their children during the summer holidays. Typically children get free meals during school time and when they aren’t going to school, they aren’t getting food. Last year alone, the UK’s biggest food bank gave away 1.6 million packs of food supplies – a 19% annual increase from 2017.  There are next to no affordable childcare provisions for children above nursery age, putting an even bigger strain on working parents. When there is no childcare available, parents are forced to leave their kids at home which can lead to gangs or crime, leaving early from education, and cyclical poverty over generations. 

My point of all this is that we don’t need to travel in order to end poverty. There’s work we can do close to home as well. So, what action can we take?


  • Don’t waste food. One-third of food produced around the world goes to waste. I am so guilty of this and it’s an area I need to work on. If you have food in your kitchen that you know you aren’t going to eat, there are dozens of food waste apps now that connect you with local people who want it. Also, food waste is also responsible for 6-10% of greenhouse gases. Be more mindful of the food you buy and consume it responsibly. For those who spent their day choosing between paying to keep the electricity on or buying breakfast for their family, every bite matters.
  • Support local charities. Whether by volunteering your time or donating money, support the charities in your local community who work with those living in poverty. Programs that support education and training, provide after-school care, help with housing, or provide food are all great choices. Most organisations are overjoyed to have support in anyway that you can provide it. 
  • Freecycle your stuff. I’ve been trying to walk the walk in my own life, slowly making small changes that I hope will contribute the SDGs. A few weeks ago instead of selling off things one by one for pocket change, I gave away an almost-new crib, two years worth of baby clothes, and buckets of toys on a local Facebook group. It all went to a young mother who was almost due but had no means to buy the ‘extras’ for her child. It cost me nothing and was all items that I was no longer using. For her it was priceless and it gave her one less thing to worry about. 

Is ending poverty too BIG?

There is hope. 36% of the world’s population lived in poverty in 1990. As of 2019, The United Nations estimates that it is now closer to 8.6%. That is undeniable progress, which happened through cooperation and action over the last few decades. (Read about the history of the SDGs here to understand the legacy.) 

One child starving to death today is one too many. One woman forced to walk five miles for a clean bucket of water is too many.There are still too many people dying, too many people struggling, in a world of shocking inequality.

I’m under no illusion that I’ll solve poverty by wasting less food, travelling more responsibly, or talking about important global issues with my friends. But just as the SDGs cannot work alone, neither can we. If we all begin making these micro changes, amplifying our voices, and joining together in purpose – the poverty scale will begin to shift.

Ending poverty is big, but it isn’t too big. We are bigger. And we can do better. We outnumber poverty 9 to 1. It’s time to bring to life, and lives, the real difference just one person – you – can make.

Please comment below and share actionable ways that YOU think we can use to end poverty.  

I’d like to invite you to take this journey with me, and AM&A, as I explore the 17 sustainable development goals. Each month we’ll focus on one goal and explore actionable ways that we as individuals can change the world. 

Let’s #MakeTravelMatter



Give me a lever and a place to stand and I will move the earth.” Archimedes

ANITA MENDIRATTA & Associates, the Tourism & Development firm  where I work in marketing and digital media, has embarked on an exciting project that I am incredibly excited to lead.

 As I mentioned in my introductory post, the ‘Living the SDGs’ journey is all about taking the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and translating them into actionable ways that we, as individuals, can contribute to making the world a better place. Especially as we travel.

Before we get started talking about the specific SDGs and how we can apply them to everyday life, and everywhere travels, I thought it would be beneficial to look at the goals as a whole. The most important reason being that themust work together. Therefore we must understand the SDGs as collective before we begin breaking them down.  

So, let’s get started.

what are the sustainable development goals (SDGs)?

To look forward we actually need to look back. Trust me – it will be worth the reading. 

While there are a number of UN initiatives that work to connect the world around how we can all grow, and develop, for good for the long-term I am going to focus on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that were established in 2000  – eight global goals that seek to shift the needle worldwide on critical development issues from halving extreme poverty rates to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS, not to mention providing universal primary education…all by 2015. In September 2015 when the UN reached the deadline of the MDGs a new target for global wellbeing was set: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This was adopted after two years of research to establish what was needed to create the ‘Future We Want’ in terms of health, safety, security, unity, environmental protection and elimination of poverty. After much dialogue, debate and really drilling down, 17 Sustainable Development Goals became the core of the agenda, with their 169 supporting  targets that help define how each goal can be implemented. 

The SDGs are a master-plan, a to-do list, an urgent call-to-action, for the world. There are 17 Global Goals (see all of them here) that work hand-in-hand to create a peaceful, inclusive, responsible and prosperous present and future for everyone on the planet. ‘Everyone’ is an important part of these grand ambitions. More on this later.

Why were the SDGs created?

Technically speaking, the seeds of the SDGs go back to what is called ‘Agenda 21’, adopted in 1992 to improve lives and protect the environment. 

The second big initiative was the Millenium Declaration, adopted in 2000. The MDGs (mentioned earlier) were hugely successful and proved that such initiatives could create change, but they were driven mainly by high-income countries and large donor agencies. 

Some of the biggest achievements to come from the MDGs included reducing global extreme poverty by half, 2.6 billion people gained access to improved drinking water, and two-thirds of developing countries achieved gender parity in primary education. The UN said that the MDGs were “the most successful anti-poverty movement in history.”

While the MDGs were proof that working together to achieve a set of priorities could create change, the SDGs were created to build on their success and expand their vision. 

Importantly, the SDGs are much more universal than the predecessors. They apply to low-income countries as much as they do high-income countries. The goals focus on all key components of a sustainable future, rather than just on one core issue.  Human rights, inclusivity and equality are at the forefront, ensuring nobody gets left behind. 

Perhaps the biggest change is that the SDGs call on all global citizens – me and you – to join in and start thinking of ways that we can do something too. 


the sdgs call on us all

What an incredible idea! What I do every day is just as important to the future of this planet as the people of Germany or businesses like Amazon or icons like Sir Richard Branson. My efforts, your efforts, can and do make an impact. For the first time, everyone is asked to join the call to make sure that our impact is for a greater good.

The SDGs call on us all – young and old, near and far. They call on businesses to create strategies that commit to sustainability, strive to advance the SDGs, and encourage their employees to volunteer within the community. 

“The future of humanity and of our planet lies in our hands. It lies also in the hands of today’s younger generation who will pass the torch to future generations. We have mapped the road to sustainable development; it will be for all of us to ensure that the journey is successful and its gains irreversible.”

Paragraph 53, The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, UN

The universality of the goals means they also apply to all levels of government. From the UN Member States to city councils and school boards. For the former, their efforts are being measured and checked, and a SDG report is published annually on progress to date and areas where more action must be taken. 

And then there is us – the world’s travellers. In order for the SDGs to be a success, we all must come together, owning the impact we have. 

This belief goes to the highest levels in Tourism. As expressed by the Amb. Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary General of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), the UN’s specialised agency responsible for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism:

“The SDGs are a powerful way of ensuring all people, including you and me, are working together to create a safe, inclusive, sustainable world for all. As travellers, our impact goes far and wide. I am happy to take this journey with AM&A on this special project as they travel through the SDGs” 

-Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary General of the UNWTO

As the Secretary General says, we need to make sure this is a positive, sustainable, personal impact that we can be proud of. This starts by seeing how each and every one of the 17 SDGs is actually impacted by Tourism. 


it’s all about the goals

Goals are important for a reason. Think about it – we create goals all the time. We may not always accomplish them, but they set the focus. 

The SDGs have given everyone, literally everyone, a plan of action, a focus, that can change the world as we know it for the better, and for us all. If enough of the UN Member States, private businesses and individuals like us are taking actions to achieve the goals, it will inspire more to do the same. 

Importantly, goals are also contagious, and personally motivating. When someone we know goes from couch potato to marathon runner, we wonder if we should also exercise more. When a friend gets their Master’s Degree, we may think about whether pursuing further education would be beneficial to us as well. When that Facebook friend you haven’t spoken to in ten years is posting pictures from the front of their mini-mansion, we may wonder if we could be doing something to get one too. 

The SDGs by themselves can feel like just a nice list of ideals. But when we take those goals, and set our focus on achieving them, personally, through the power of one times billions, so much is possible. 

why now is critical

The SDGs provide hope in a world of conflict, inequalities, and uncertainty. Tomorrow may be too late, but today we can join together and work towards achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals to protect our future. We can’t wait any longer to take action. 

When I joined  ANITA MENDIRATTA & Associates and really began to understand how I, and my travels, could make a global difference through the SDGs, they really began to matter. I truly believe that maybe, just maybe, I can make a difference. Which is why I’m pledging to do my part, along with ANITA MENDIRATTA & Associates, by sharing and implementing actionable ways that we can be a part of the solution.

Join me. Together we can make a world of difference, we can #MakeTravelMatter

I’d like to invite you to take this journey with me, and AM&A, as I explore the 17 sustainable development goals. Each month we’ll focus on one goal and explore actionable ways that we as individuals can change the world. 

Let’s #MakeTravelMatter

The SDGs – Who Cares? I do.

The SDGs – Who Cares? I do.

How do you start a journey? Wise men of the past have suggested that you begin with a first step, but I’d like to begin this one with a step back. 

First of all, I’m Jessica. (Great to meet you!)  I’m the Marketing Executive here at ANITA MENDIRATTA & Associates. I couldn’t tell you what that title actually means, as my role thus far has been unlike any marketing position I’ve ever had. Everyday brings new and exciting challenges, and while I’m still doing some of the more traditional marketing tasks for the business, some days I have the opportunity to contribute in ways, and be a part of a team, that makes a lasting impact on the world. 

Our firm, spearheaded by Anita Mendiratta, does this in a multitude of ways. From her role as the Special Advisor to the Secretary General of the UNWTO, to consulting with government leaders in tourism post-crisis, supporting CNN International in their support of the global tourism industry, and helping tourism organisations create more sustainable business models and brand identities. Whether working on assignments short- to medium-term, everything is focused on long-term development, an integral distinction because it doesn’t get all the glory as short-term results, but over time makes the biggest impact. 

I personally have worked within the tourism industry for years now and felt like I had a great grasp of the ins and outs and purpose behind what we do. Encouraging more people to see the world, getting them to book the trip, and importantly with my social media background, asking them to share their experiences with others on Facebook, Instagram, or the social platform of their choice. I always found the work I did in tourism extremely rewarding – particularly because I wanted others to enjoy seeing the world as much as I do. 


After joining AM&A, my understanding of tourism was completely shifted. For my first task as a new employee of the firm, Anita asked me to write a paper on the ‘20 Things I Didn’t Know About Tourism’. To be completely honest, I wondered what the point was. I’d spent years in the tourism industry, but assumed the assignment was more to get a grasp of my writing style than it was to actually teach me something. I figured I’d finish the paper and send it back within a couple of days, but I spent over a week pouring through the suggested resources, reports and data. By the time I sent back the finished assignment, I felt like I knew less than when I started. Walking through my report with Anita, and getting her perspective as a practitioner within the strategic (and especially diplomatic) tourism space, I began to see tourism less as a tourist taking a trip, and more as an economic sector that had the power to combat poverty, bring people from diverse backgrounds together, change a community’s future with new infrastructure and employment opportunities,  and even bring peace to the world. For the first time I began to see the big picture. 

The problem with seeing the big picture, is that it suddenly feels like something that one person couldn’t possibly have any effect on. Not by encouraging customers to visit Tenerife or book a city break, not by sharing beautiful destination images on Instagram to inspire, and not by travelling more this year – or could it? The disconnect between tourism on a higher level and travelling as a tourist became so clear to me, and I knew I needed to find a bridge to connect my two worlds. 

We have become increasingly more aware of the way we should or shouldn’t travel, that’s a fact. 41% of us consider social issues in a destination of real importance, and 58% choose not to visit a destination if they feel it will negatively impact the people who live there. (Study from Booking.com) The majority of us have stopped riding elephants, book tours and activities through local suppliers, and seek authentic experiences over top ten lists. But how do we make a difference? How can we shape employment opportunities in Nepal or healthcare infrastructure in Mali or make sure that the Greek family who has been working in tourism for three generations has access to the digital skills they need to keep up?

the sdgs: united nations sustainable development goals

As part of that introductory paper, Anita shared with me the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. They may or may not be known to you, but at the time, they were unknown to me. In 2015, all of the UN Member States adopted these 17 goals, which were to act as a blueprint for “peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future.” Importantly they became a call-to-action, a checks and balances of sorts, a strategic framework for the global community as they make decisions leading up to 2030. She shared the SDGs for a reason: to give our work context. Even in tourism.

For some reason the SDG’s really stuck with me. I would love nothing more than to live in a world without poverty or hunger. For gender equality to be the norm and for all children to have access to a quality education and clean water. A world where climate change is taken seriously and its resources are protected for future generations. But, we don’t live in a perfect world and the success of the Sustainable Development Goals is dependent on the efforts of the UN Member States. While it’s positive to see global leaders take these goals seriously, how could I possibly contribute to such large-scale ideals as a traveller? 

These are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals:

GOAL 1: No Poverty

GOAL 2: Zero Hunger

GOAL 3: Good Health and Well-being

GOAL 4: Quality Education

GOAL 5: Gender Equality

GOAL 6: Clean Water and Sanitation

GOAL 7: Affordable and Clean Energy

GOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth

GOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure

GOAL 10: Reduced Inequality

GOAL 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities

GOAL 12: Responsible Consumption and Production

GOAL 13: Climate Action

GOAL 14: Life Below Water

GOAL 15: Life on Land

GOAL 16: Peace and Justice Strong Institutions

GOAL 17: Partnerships to achieve the Goal

it’s time to bridge the gap

After discussing these ideas with the team, and sharing my frustrations, Anita decided that I would be a perfect ‘fit’ as our firms’ voice on getting the message out on why the SDGs matter to us all. My background in the more consumer side of tourism, and as a traveller myself, has shown me where and why we travel and how we make those decisions. My role here at AM&A exposes me to all of the political, economic, and diplomatic facets of tourism – it shows me jigsaw pieces of the big picture everyday. I’m now in a unique position to join them together, and the business provides the perfect platform for reaching both sides of the tourism aisle. 

It’s time to shift our views on tourism. As travellers particularly, we need to stop looking at tourism as something we do or where we go, and begin exploring why it matters. I’m confident that the Sustainable Development Goals can be the stepping stones we need and  help shift our focus while encouraging all of us to make a difference. Whether we are travelling or at home, making actionable micro choices that, together, will begin to change the big picture. 

I’d like to invite you to take this journey with me, and AM&A, as I explore the 17 sustainable development goals. Each month we’ll focus on one goal and explore actionable ways that we as individuals can change the world. 

Let’s #MakeTravelMatter