Climate breakdown, conflict and economic slowdowns are contributing to worrying increases in food insecurity globally, with about one in every nine people in the world suffering from hunger in 2018, according to a new report.
The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2019 reports that after decades of steady decline, the trend in world hunger – measured by the prevalence of undernourishment – has remained virtually unchanged since 2015, at a level slightly below 11 percent.
Meanwhile, the number of people who suffer from hunger has slowly increased as population numbers have grown, meaning that more than 820 million people in the world were hungry in 2018.
The report, jointly prepared by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, the United Nations Children’s Fund, the World Food Programme and the World Health Organization, says many global health targets relating to nutrition are unlikely to be met.
Hunger is rising in almost all sub-regions of Africa and, to a lesser extent, in Latin America and Western Asia. While there has been “great progress” in Southern Asia in the last five years, the prevalence of undernourishment in this sub-region is still the highest in Asia.
The report says:
The world economy as a whole is not growing as much as expected.
Conflict and instability have increased and become more intractable, spurring greater population displacement.
Climate change and increasing climate variability and extremes are affecting agricultural productivity, food production and natural resources, with impacts on food systems and rural livelihoods, including a decline in the number of farmers.
All of this has led to major shifts in the way in which food is produced, distributed and consumed worldwide – and to new food security, nutrition and health challenges.”
And the report warns that the fragile state of the world’s economy suggests the problems it identifies are likely to worsen, especially given the trend to rising income inequality in many countries.
The report calls for action on two fronts:
- Safeguarding food security and nutrition through economic and social policies that help counteract the effects of economic slowdowns or downturns, including guaranteeing funding of social safety nets and ensuring universal access to health and education; and
- Tackling existing inequalities at all levels through multisectoral policies that make it possible to more sustainably escape from food insecurity and malnutrition.
The report’s release follows a big focus on global food system sustainability through this public event at the University of Sydney, Can we make food security fail-safe in the age of climate change?, and The Food Governance Conference.
This conference, a collaboration between Sydney Law School and the Charles Perkins Centre, had a strong focus on the role of human rights in addressing food system issues, managing conflicts of interest in food and nutrition research and policy, and also shared policy-making experiences from different countries around the world.
See a selection of tweets from both events below.
Food accessibility, affordability and availability: Solutions through the Aboriginal lens
With Ms Nicole Turner, Adjunct Professor of Nutrition and Dietetics, University of Canberra; Associate Professor Julie Brimblecombe, Department of Nutrition, Dietetics and Food, Monash University; Dr Josephine Gwynn, Lecturer, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Sydney.
Chaired by Professor Amanda Lee, Professor in Public Health Policy, School of Public Health, Affiliate Professor, UQ Poche Centre for Indigenous Health, The University of Queensland
The next battleground: Aqua nullius, Aboriginal ontologies & Indigenous fishing
Dr Virginia Marshall
Governing a consumptagenic world
Professor Sharon Friel, Professor of Health Equity and Director, School of Regulation and Global Governance (RegNet), Director, Menzies Centre for Health Policy, The Australian National University
Science and activism in obesity prevention policy in Mexico
Dr Juan A. Rivera, General Director of the National Institute of Public Health in Mexico and Professor of Nutrition at the Mexican School of Public Health.
Why hasn’t Australia implemented a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages?
Professor Roger Magnusson
Sugar taxes: Where are we at globally?
A socioecological model of factors influencing sweet drink consumption among preschool aged children
Policy actions on sugar and their effect on the presence of nonnutritive sweeteners in the food supply: A narrative review
Regulatory measures to improve public health nutrition
Professor Tim Gill
Managing conflicts of interest in food and nutrition research and policy
Panel members: Professor Lisa Bero, Chair, Medicines Use and Health Outcomes, School of Pharmacy and Charles Perkins Centre, University of Sydney
Dr Katherine Cullerton, Research Fellow, School of Public Health, University of Queensland
“Appeasing” corporate critics: Unpacking the political consequences of the soft drink industry’s strategy to be “part of the solution” to obesity
Challenging intense industrial animal farming
Regulating alcohol pregnancy warning labels
The policy process forrecommending mandatory pregnancy warning labels on alcoholic beverages
An unhealthy state: Lessons from Irish measures on sugar and alcohol
Building momentum: Lessons for policymakers on implementing robust national level nutrition policies
Can we use human rights arguments to more effectively address overweight and obesity prevention in Australia?
What policy interventions exist globally at a local government level to promote the uptake of an environmentally sustainable diet?
How are NSW local governments acting in the food retail space: A pilot study
Nutrients, foods, and dietary patterns: a descriptive analysis of systematic reviews used to inform dietary guidelines around the world
Dietary recommendation and methodological quality comparison in the Canadian dietary guidelines for 2007 and 2019
Zhaoli (Joy) Dai-Keller
Which companies and brands dominate the New Zealand packaged food supply?
Achieving food security in Sub-Saharan Africa: The case for international solidarity from a “Twailian” perspective
Learning from the dirt: Using university food gardens as teaching tools
Building a food systems literate Tasmania