Milk and dairy products will serve as a critical, sustainable food source for the world's 9 billion people by 2050, according to former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon.
In a keynote speech delivered at the opening of the International Dairy Federation's World Dairy Summit 2018 in Daejeon, Korea, on October 15, Mr Ban said the increase in world population would be followed by acute food shortage.
"I believe that milk will be one of the solutions to combat any food shortages that may occur," he said.
"Milk is a primary food staple for the world's population of more than 7 billion people. Scores of malnourished and food-insecure children across the world receive crucial nutrients from milk."
Mr Ban said milk was critical and essential for international efforts to combat poverty and hunger, stressing the importance of milk in providing essential nutrients for starved children. "Milk serves as an important nutritional food, as well as an essential staple for emergency relief," he said. "Providing milk is one of the simplest ways to help people in conflict areas and disasters."
Mr Ban said he was heartened to note that the dairy industry was committed to sustainably providing nutritious dairy products, while also making efforts to preserve the environment. He cited the Dairy Declaration of Rotterdam, a joint initiative of the IDF and the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation launched in October 2016 to promote dairy sustainability through responsible consumption and production.
The dairy sector played a leading role in international efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are aimed at socio-economic transformation to eradicate poverty and hunger, and to construct a sustainable world where humanity could enjoy better education, healthcare, and equality.
The SDGs were launched in 2015 during Mr Ban's tenure at the UN and sustainability remains a key passion of his. He serves as co-chair of the Ban Ki-Moon Centre for Global Citizens in Vienna established in January 2018 within the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals to empower women and youth.
Mr Ban said the dairy sector played an important role in helping to achieve many of the SDGs covering poverty eradication, the banishment of hunger, good health and wellbeing and gender equality. The dairy sector created employment through its value chain, generating the third-largest output and the largest trade volume among all agricultural industries.
At the same time, he acknowledged that the dairy sector was promoting environmental protection by implementing initiatives to reduce global carbon and water footprints by striving to minimise greenhouse gas emissions, and water and soil pollution generated during the production and distribution of dairy products.
"Unlike produce that is harvested once or twice a year, dairy products can be produced every day," he said. "This means that more cash can circulate through rural areas, injecting vitality into rural economies. As a result, the well-being of rural areas is improved, and the quality of living is enhanced."
Mr Ban urged the dairy community to collectively prepare for the next century by strengthening sustainability for the next generation.
"Seven billion people around the world today not only recognise milk as a healthy food but also appreciate the value of the dairy industry for its contribution to humanity's growth."
He called on the dairy sector to continue to strive through collective efforts to achieve the SDGs.
"I hope the accomplishment of these goals can help construct a better environment for your industry to further prosper. I hope you can forge a robust global partnership that goes beyond the boundaries between countries, continents, and regions, and that you can work together to drive the development of humanity and society as global citizens.
"I look forward to your industry being duly recognized not only for the nutritional values of its products but also for its industrial values rooted in sustainability and responsibility. I truly believe this will further enable your industry to actively contribute to humanity's happiness."