GLOBAL CHALLENGES

Food Systems

The number of people affected by hunger globally has been slowly increasing since 2014. Almost 690 million people went hungry in 2019, up 10 million from the year before, with numbers highest in Asia and rising fastest in Africa. Projections show that the world is not on track to achieve zero hunger and global nutrition targets by 2030 and food security for the most vulnerable population groups is likely to deteriorate further due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Food security occurs when all people can access enough safe and nutritious food to meet their requirements for a healthy life, in ways the planet can sustain into the future. Addressing food security and malnutrition requires thinking about how food systems work – from food production, processing, distribution and consumption, to waste disposal and use of residue – and how they interact with numerous other systems, such as health, the environment, conflict and displacement.

Climate change will affect every aspect of food security. Agriculture-based livelihood systems that are already vulnerable to food insecurity face immediate risk of increased crop failure, new patterns of pests and diseases, lack of appropriate seeds and planting material, and loss of livestock. People living on the coasts and floodplains and in mountains, drylands and the Arctic are most at risk.

Research and innovation is already uncovering solutions to some of these problems, such as genetically engineering rice plants to be more tolerant to drought, restoring mangrove ecosystems and developing biodegradable plastics for food packaging. Continuing to invest in collaborative and multidisciplinary projects will be vital if we stand a chance of drastically reducing, if not totally eradicating, hunger by 2030.

Source: FAO, 2020.