The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2021: The world is at a critical juncture

Six years ago, countries committed to the goal of ending hunger, food insecurity and all forms of malnutrition by 2030. The world has not made much progress. Conflict, climate variability and extremes, and economic slowdowns and downturns are the major drivers slowing down progress.

In 2020, between 720 and 811 million people faced hunger.

Around 660 million people may still face hunger in 2030, in part due to lasting effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on global food security.

Compared with 2019, 46 million more people in Africa, almost 57 million more in Asia, and about 14 million more in Latin America and the Caribbean were affected by hunger in 2020.

Beyond hunger, nearly one in three people did not have access to adequate food in 2020.

The high cost of healthy diets and the high levels of income inequality means that about 3 billion people, especially the poor, in every region of the world cannot afford to eat a healthy diet.

Healthy diets that include sustainability considerations could contribute to reducing health and climate change costs by 2030. The hidden costs of healthy diets are lower compared with those of current consumption patterns.

The COVID-19 exposed weaknesses in food systems, which threatened the food security and nutrition of millions of people.

Also, efforts to eradicate malnutrition in all its forms have been challenged by disruptions in essential nutrition interventions and negative impacts on dietary patterns during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Food systems can be transformed to provide affordable healthy diets that are sustainable and inclusive. This change can become a driving force towards ending hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition in all its forms, for all.

There are six pathways towards food systems transformation:

  1. Integrating humanitarian, development, and peacebuilding policies in conflict-affected areas.
  2. Scaling up climate resilience across food systems.
  3. Strengthening resilience of the most vulnerable to economic adversity.
  4. Intervening along the food supply chains to lower the cost of nutritious foods.
  5. Tackling poverty and structural inequalities, ensuring interventions are pro-poor and inclusive.
  6. Strengthening food environments and changing consumer behavior to promote dietary patterns with positive impacts on human health and the environment.

Source: The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2021: The world is at a critical juncture
© FAO 2023

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