Nobel Peace laureate Yunus urges new approach to hunger, conflict

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Rome, May 21 (IANS/AKI) Bangladeshi Nobel peace laureate Muhammad Yunus on Tuesday called on nations to revolutionise the way they address the frequently interconnected issues of hunger and conflict, urging initiatives to foster social cohesion and rural entrepreneurship especially among the young.

“If you continue the same way as you have done before, you’ll always end up with the same result…particularly on the issues of food security, agriculture, and the environment,” Yunus said.

He was addressing an event at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation’s headquarters here to assess progress made by the FAO-Nobel Peace Laureates Alliance for Food Security and Peace.

Mustering 12 Nobel prizewinners, the advocacy group was set up in 2016 and aims to break the cycle of conflict and hunger.

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“Unless we think differently, unless we work differently, (these issues) are not going to be resolved,” said Yunus, who won the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize for founding the Grameen Bank and pioneering the concepts of microcredit and microfinance.

Hunger and conflict are intrinsically linked, FAO said.

According to FAO figures, over 60 percent of people suffering from hunger live in areas of conflict. At the same time, there are a growing number of conflicts over natural resources to produce food, the UN agency noted.

The Rome meeting reviewed an experimental peace-building project in the Central African Republic involving Christians and Muslims in agricultural production, training and social business development, as well as community dialogue to encourage social cohesion.

The pilot project demonstrates that agricultural entrepreneurship can help transform communities which in turn encourages people to stay in their community rather than being forced to seek better opportunities elsewhere, Yunus said.

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“Farmers are excellent entrepreneurs,” Yunus underlined.

The project is taking place on land owned by the Catholic Church outside the CAR capital Bangui where around 3,000 people displaced by conflict live, FAO said.

The CAR project is designed by FAO, funded by the Italian government and is being implemented by its overseas aid department.

The initiative draws on Yunus’ expertise in encouraging agricultural entrepreneurship, particularly among young people, and on the expertise of Yemeni human rights activist and 2011 Nobel Peace Prize recipient Tawakkol Karman in encouraging inter-religious dialogue for peace.

Other Nobel peace prize winners who are part of the Alliance include Iraqi Yazidi human rights activist Nadia Mura who was awarded the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize for her campaign against the use of rape as a weapon of war, and former President of Colombia Juan Manuel Santos, who won the prize in 2016 for his efforts to bring the country’s more than 50-year-long civil war to an end.

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–IANS/AKI

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