Approximately 2.4 billion individuals, largely women and residents of rural areas, did not have consistent access to nutritious, safe, and sufficient food in 2022, said UN’s latest report.
The U.N. delivered grim news on global food security Wednesday: As many as 783 million faced hunger, and 148 million children suffered from stunted growth.
More than 3.1 billion people – 42% of the global population – were unable to afford a healthy diet in 2021, an increase of 134 million people compared to 2019, it said.
The UN warned: The world is at risk of failing to meet its self-imposed obligation to see hunger eradicated by 2030.
About 735 million people worldwide faced chronic hunger last year, an estimated 122 million more than in 2019, before the Covid-19 pandemic, the UN has said, in its latest report — The State of Food Security and Nutrition 2023, Urbanization, agrifood systems, transformation and healthy diets across the rural urban continuum (July 2023) — on food security.
While countries in South America and many regions of Asia saw a decline in hunger rates thanks to economic recovery from the pandemic, the document reports, hunger is still on the rise in Western Asia, the Caribbean, and in all subregions of Africa. Among the main issues threatening progress towards the global goal to end hunger are conflicts, including the conflict in Ukraine, as well as weather-related events.
According to the projections presented in the document, 600 million people globally will be living undernourished by 2030, meaning that the world is “far off track” to meet the United Nations’ goal of eradicating hunger.
The pledge was made in 2015 when the UN adopted its Agenda for Sustainable Development, which includes 17 goals to be achieved, among them “creating a world free of hunger by 2023.”
Five U.N. agencies said in the report that while global hunger numbers stalled between 2021 and 2022 many places are facing deepening food crises. They pointed to Western Asia, the Caribbean and Africa, where 20% of the continent’s population is experiencing hunger, more than twice the global average.
“Recovery from the global pandemic has been uneven, and the war in Ukraine has affected the nutritious food and healthy diets,” Qu Dongyu, director-general of the Food and Agriculture Organization said in a statement. “This is the `new normal’ where climate change, conflict, and economic instability are pushing those on the margins even further from safety.”
FAO chief economist Maximo Torero said the FAO food price index has been declining for about 15 months, but “food inflation has continued.”
According to the report, people’s access to healthy diets has deteriorated across the world.
- Global Hunger: While global hunger numbers have stalled between 2021 and 2022, there are many places in the world facing deepening food crises. Over 122 million more people are facing hunger in the world since 2019 due to the pandemic and repeated weather shocks and conflicts, including the war in Ukraine.
- Nutritional Access: Approximately 2.4 billion individuals, largely women and residents of rural areas, did not have consistent access to nutritious, safe, and sufficient food in 2022.
- Child Malnutrition: Child malnutrition is still alarmingly high. In 2021, 22.3% (148.1 million) children were stunted, 6.8% (45 million) were wasted, and 5.6% (37 million) were overweight.
- Urbanization’s Impact on Diet: As urbanization accelerates, there is a noticeable increase in the consumption of processed and convenience foods, leading to a spike in overweight and obesity rates across urban, peri-urban, and rural areas.
- Rural Dependence on Global Markets: Previously self-sustaining rural regions, especially in Africa and Asia, are now found to be increasingly dependent on national and global food markets.
- Future Outlook: By 2050, it’s projected that 70% of the global population will reside in cities. This significant demographic shift necessitates a reorientation of food systems to cater to these new urban populations and eradicate hunger, food insecurity, and malnutrition.
UN Secretary-General Urges Adaption To Ballooning Urban Population
Following is the text of UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ video message at the launch of the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2023 report, in New York on Wednesday:
In a world of plenty, no one should go hungry. And no one should suffer the cruelty of malnutrition. But, this report on the state of food security and nutrition paints a stark picture of our reality.
Conflict, climate, economic shocks and inequalities are driving food insecurity. Up to 780 million people do not have enough to eat. More than 3 billion cannot afford a healthy diet. And by 2030, it is projected that more than 600 million people will still be living with hunger.
There are rays of hope: some regions are on track to achieve some 2030 nutrition targets. But, overall, we need an intense and immediate global effort to rescue the Sustainable Development Goals.
We must build resilience against the crises and shocks that drive food insecurity — from conflict to climate. We must protect gains in child nutrition, including from risks posed by rising obesity. And we must ensure food systems are fit for the future. That means adapting to the reality of a ballooning urban population — the focus of this year’s report.
I urge Governments to respond to our call for an SDG Stimulus, to scale up affordable long-term financing for all countries in need, by at least $500 billion a year. This will help countries ensure their people have access to affordable, nutritious food. And I urge all Governments to make the most of the UN Food Systems Summit and Stocktaking Moment in Rome this month to turbocharge progress towards meeting the SDGs and creating a world free from hunger: a world that is within reach.