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Melchiade Bukuru, former Director at UNCCD, chaired the Second Session of the 23rd Infopoverty World Conference

According to the World Food Program (WFP), as many as 828 million people were affected by hunger in 2021 - a 22% increase from 2019 driven largely by the COVID-19 pandemic. On top of this, in most countries, malnutrition is highest among the poorest 20% of residents. The WFP projects that, by 2030, nearly 670 million people (8% of the global population) will still be hungry. 

Both hunger and poverty are, in many cases, intergenerational. Many of the poverty-related causes of malnutrition, such as food insecurity or poor access to health services, endure for multiple generations of the same family or community, exacerbated also by climate change, conflict, and forced migration. 

All of these situations usually boil down to three key issues:

  1. Poor or no access to a quality diet - can people find anything to eat?

  2. Lack of knowledge, skills, and support to ensure optimal care for women and children especially - regarding health and nutrition, how can we educate and train people to reach enough food-security levels? 

  3. Poor or no access to water, sanitation, and essential health services. 

If poverty is a combination between inequality and risk, then hunger creates vulnerability. This in turn feeds into the dangers that fuel poverty. In this context, what advantages do digital innovations and AI bring into the picture? 

This was exactly the point made by the chair of the second session of the 23rd Infopoverty World Conference on the theme “Poverty eradication and hunger: a first challenging priority for AI” on April 12, 2024, at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, Mr. MELCHIADE BUKURU, Former Director of  UNCCD Liaison Office in New York. 


“Thank you and good afternoon. President Saporito and colleagues thank you for perpetuating this tradition of convening an annual Infopoverty World Conference. I’m happy also to be part of this tradition for a decade and for the opportunity provided to me to chair this important session. My name is Melchiade Bukuru, I’m freshly retired from the UN public service and I’m proud to remain in full shape to pursue this kind of diplomatic and international activities.
Poverty and hunger have the same geography, the poorest and the hungriest are essentially located in areas where land, the main asset of the poor, is degraded. Poverty and hunger also have a gender. In rural areas where land is degraded women bear the brunt of desertification, land degradation, and drought. This is the place to invest, this is the place where safe, secure, and trustworthy artificial intelligence will be tested to positively impact livelihoods. I would like now to convene the session of our agenda to discuss the first challenging priority for artificial intelligence as regards poverty and the eradication of hunger. I’m happy that our discussion takes place after the general assembly has set the tone and the boundaries of artificial intelligence in the recent resolution titled seizing the Opportunities of safe, secure and Trustworthy AI systems for Sustainable Development.
I’m luckier than Mr. Civili, I chair a panel that is gender balanced. I’m flanked by two ladies, of course, I acknowledge the presence of my fellow men, no offense. Let me give the floor to the first speaker. Halka Otto. Halka Otto, speaking about food security, we think of course of FAO, so Halka is the Senior Liaison Officer at the FAO Liaison Office in New York. She used to be my neighbor as far as the office space was concerned. So, you have the floor, madame.”



The FINAL DECLARATION of the 23rd Infopoverty World Conference will include the most relevant insights that emerged from the discussion and will include a list of projects and proposals suggested by the speakers.

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