Remarks by Ms. Amina J. Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General, at the launch of State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2022,
President of ECOSOC, H.E. Collen Vixen Kelapile,
Director-General of FAO, QU Dongyu
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We are here today to discuss how we can move forward together to achieve the 2030 Agenda objective of zero hunger, under immense and growing challenges.
I want to congratulate FAO and co-authors for this flagship report that provides basis for this meeting and what we need to do to meet the SDGs.
There is no doubt that over the past 25 years significant progress has been made in reducing hunger and malnutrition. The proportion of undernourished people in the world had declined from 15 percent in 2000-2004 to 8.9 percent in 2019. The rate of stunting fell from 33 percent of children under age five in 2000 to 21.3 percent in 2019.
Sadly, more recently we have seen global hunger on the rise, reversing decades of progress.
The first time I attended the launch of The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World report in 2019, hunger was already on the rise.
In that year, the report introduced a second indicator for monitoring the Prevalence of Moderate or Severe Food Insecurity. It found that more than 2 billion people lacked regular access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food, and the pace of progress was too slow to meet global nutrition targets by 2030.
Since 2017, the SOFI reports have identified the main drivers of food insecurity and malnutrition: conflict, climate variability and extremes, and economic slowdowns and downturns. These drivers are increasing in intensity and frequency, often in combination and their negative impacts are exacerbated by, and contributing to worsening high and persistent levels of inequality and poverty.
The past two years, the food security and nutrition of billions of people has been further undermined by the COVID-19 pandemic and its ripple effects are still felt across the globe. The measures to contain the pandemic and the scars it has left on global food supply chains have resulted in severe worldwide economic contractions.
Today, with the pandemic ongoing and war raging in Ukraine, the global scenario is even more complex, with competing challenges calling for concerted solutions.
This year's report therefore reminds us – yet again – that hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition in all its forms are an urgent global concern requiring coordinated resolved action.
World hunger has been on an alarming upward trend in recent years. As many as 828 million people may have suffered from hunger in 2021. The numbers also show persistent regional disparities, with Africa bearing the heaviest burden. One in five people in Africa (20.2 percent of the population) was facing hunger in 2021, compared to 9.1 percent in Asia, 8.6 percent in Latin America and the Caribbean, 5.8 percent in Oceania, and less than 2.5 percent in Northern America and Europe. Projections show that we could still be facing chronic hunger in 2030 – at the same level as in 2015 when the 2030 agenda was launched. This is a shocking report card of our efforts to end hunger, and we can, and must do better.
This includes the billions who have limited, rationed, cut back on, or otherwise consumed less food, and of less nutritious nature, than they otherwise would..
These are people whose lives, livelihoods and prospects for a fruitful and dignified life are being crippled, with their futures eroded and potential and aspirations held back. They need our crosscutting resolve. The evidence presented in this report is compelling as it is outrageous when we see that children in rural settings and poorer households, whose mothers received no formal education, were even more vulnerable to stunting and wasting.
On the other side of the food insecurity and malnutrition coin, children in urban areas and wealthier households were at higher risk of becoming overweight.
However, not all numbers are clarion calls of bad news. I am happy to see that steady progress has been made on exclusive breastfeeding. We must accelerate our progress to meet the respective 2030 target.
Turning to women and girls, who have been consistently and disproportionately afflicted across various nutrition metrics, it is worth noting no improvements to this end have been made since 2012.
It is in rural settings that anaemia affects women the most, as well as across poorer households and among those who have received no formal education.
Yet another telling number from this year's report is that almost 3.1 billion people could not afford a healthy diet in 2020, reflecting the inflation in consumer food prices stemming from the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the measures put in place to contain it.
Governments must review their current support to food and agriculture to reduce hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition in all its forms.
True transformative change is the only way out to get us back on track – and ensure that we remain on track – towards a Zero Hunger. We cannot continue fighting hunger using the same approaches as before. The unprecedented hunger and malnutrition challenges before us are urgently calling for new, whole-of-systems solutions.
Over the past quarter century, much of the developing world, supported by the United Nations system, bilateral and other partners, had made significant progress in enhancing food supplies and reducing hunger. This remarkable progress shows us that Zero hunger can be achieved by 2030.
With only eight years to go before the SDG 2030 deadline, the call is clear: food systems must be transformed to build resilience against these drivers.
We cannot continue with business as usual. We must make the transition from humanitarian relief to development addressing root causes.
Only by investing in sustainable development, driven by transformed and reconceptualized food systems, can we address the root causes of hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition.
Once again, I commend the five co-author agencies -- FAO, IFAD, UNICEF, WFP and WHO -- for this joint effort and their policy recommendations and guidance.
Let us heed the advice in this report in our work at country level to achieve Zero Hunger by 2030.
Thank you for your kind attention.