Feeding a growing global population of nine billion people by 2050 is one of the world's biggest challenges--especially in the context of rapid urbanisation, rising amounts of food waste and climate change. During one day of discussions senior executives from agribusiness, policymaking and the NGO community examined approaches to food and nutrition security.
When grassroots communities described their realities, they taught me that the development they envisioned is not the same as the development the majority of the world imagines they want. In their own narrative, the strongest message from communities is a deep desire to be given the ability to do it for themselves.
The spectacular GDP growth recorded by some West African countries in the past 5 years is all of a sudden undermined by the spread of the Ebola virus. The epidemic has put under the spotlight the poor conditions of health systems in the region, but also the fragility of economic models measured only by Gross Domestic Product.
I say goodbye because as well-intended as the aid industry is it willfully overlooks the basic lesson of political economy: that economies develop, institutions are built, and governance becomes more robust in poor countries through the same bargaining processes that have worked for formerly-poor countries in the past.
By investing to make contraception available to every woman who wants it, improving access to safe abortion where it's legal and making sure that medical care is readily available when things go wrong we can make a real difference. It's not rocket science - even for someone still relatively new to the development sector like me.
Disability, infertility, being shunned by your community and in the worst case even death: these are just some of the terrifying risks women expose themselves to when they have an unsafe abortion. Yet every year 21.6 million women, 99% of them in the developing world, are so desperate to end an unwanted pregnancy that they will quite literally risk their lives.
We can't escape the fact that throughout history countries are most carbon-intense and least sustainable on their way to becoming rich; not when they get there. So if the message to developing countries is that they are not allowed to develop in the same way as rich countries developed... are we sure that they will sign up to this?
Sierra Leone should be one of the most prosperous countries in West Africa, with its diamonds, iron ore and bauxite reserves. Yet, the vast majority of its people live in grinding poverty, and the country has the fourth highest maternal mortality rate in the world. On health, though, it is making progress.
Poverty has always been with humanity - even Jesus said that the poor would always be with us. Yet while nothing short of a miracle would have made poverty eradication possible 2,000 years ago - neither emperors nor kings had the knowledge or resources to do it - today, we have what it takes to tackle poverty.
The goal of extreme poverty reduction is surely the best-known of the UN's eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). On the face of it, target 1a - to halve, from 1990 levels, the proportion of people living on less than $1.25 a day by 2015 - is seen as a success story of the MDGs project, having been achieved five years ahead of schedule.
As the 2015 end-date of the MDGS draws near, a puzzle remains: why has the target on clean water been surpassed, while progress on sanitation has been so poor? Surely water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) go together? This question goes to the heart of the MDG worldview, and the problem of measuring development generally.
With global economic uncertainty still with us, and sovereign states struggling and cutting back on their spending, expectations of philanthropists, charities and aid agencies are immense. We are trying to practise cost cutting and to find new ways of helping because we are frustrated with the old ways.
The support of multilateral agencies for basic education is slowing compared with other sectors and bilateral donors. Unless multilateral aid is increased, there is a danger that growing support to new areas such as skills development will squeeze the scarce resources for basic education even further, to the detriment of the most disadvantaged.
Globally, women and girls are estimated to account for almost two-thirds of the people who live in extreme poverty. Women currently perform two-thirds of the world's work and produce 50 percent of the food, yet earn only ten percent of the income. To add to this injustice, only one in five parliamentarians worldwide is a woman.