Looking back, my travels have tended to introduce to me examples of food security, and issues surrounding its continued resilience. Generally, travel to rural parts of a country, for example via community-based tourism, is when this is likely to happen, because healthy local food security is part of why a community is able to support tourism in the first place.

Zero Hunger is not just about having food to eat, although that goal is certainly the most basic one for this SDG. But it is also about the ability to produce your own food, control over the food system, peace of mind over its continued productivity, stability of food distribution, and food affordability.

Food is among the most essential of human needs, at the base of Maslow’s hierarchy. Like other human needs at this level, no one who lacks it would be able to work on any other goal. Countries grappling with hunger would not be able to progress on other commitments. And countries that currently may not be in hunger, but whose food systems are at risk – whether due to climate change or due to losing control of it – would also be forced to pull back on other commitments to protect food security or sovereignty.

This is why efforts to reform food systems to be more sustainable tend to be resisted, when those efforts would risk causing hunger, whether through dependence on food imports, or through making food unaffordable. There is no sovereignty if a country depends on another for food. And since only sovereign countries can keep their commitments under the UN SDGs, we can expect food security to remain a non-negotiable matter even as we try to address unsustainable outcomes caused by some of our food systems today.