World is Moving Backwards in Efforts to End Hunger, SOFI 2022 Warns | News | SDG Knowledge Hub

On the second day of the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Program (WFP), and the World Health Organization (WHO) launched the 2022 edition of the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World report (SOFI 2022). The annual flagship report reports on progress towards ending hunger, achieving food security, and improving nutrition.

SOFI 2022 warns that “the world is moving in the wrong direction” on the SDG targets to end hunger, food insecurity, and all forms of malnutrition, with progress recorded only for exclusive breastfeeding among infants under the age of six months and for child stunting . It identifies conflict, including the war in Ukraine, along with climate extremes, economic shocks, and growing inequalities as the major drivers of food insecurity and malnutrition.

“The global price spikes in food, fuel and fertilizers that we are seeing as a result of the crisis in Ukraine threaten to push countries around the world into famine,” said WFP Executive Director David Beasley. Warning about “global destabilization, starvation, and mass migration on an unprecedented scale,” he urged that “[W]e…act today to avert this looming catastrophe.”

The report’s findings include:

  • 828 million people were facing hunger in 2021 – 46 million people more than in 2020 and 150 million more than in 2019;
  • The proportion of the world population affected by hunger reached 9.8% in 2021, compared to 8% in 2019 and 9.3% in 2020;
  • 29.3% of the world’s population, or 2.3 billion people, were moderately or severely food insecure in 2021, representing a 350 million increase since before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • Nearly 924 million people faced severe food insecurity in 2021 – a 207 million increase in two years;
  • The gender gap in food insecurity increased from three percentage points in 2020 to four percentage points in 2021: 31.9% of women and 27.6% of men in the world were moderately or severely food insecure in 2021;
  • Almost 3.1 billion people could not afford a healthy diet in 2020 – a 112 million increase from 2019. These numbers reflect “the effects of inflation in consumer food prices stemming from the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the measures put in place to contain it”;
  • Globally in 2020, among children under five years of age, an estimated 22%, or 149 million, were stunted and 39 million (5.7%) were overweight, with the greatest burden of stunting borne by low- and lower-middle-income countries , and upper-middle- and high-income economies having the greatest number of obesity cases; and
  • Forty-five million children aged five and younger (6.7%) were affected by wasting – a form of malnutrition that increases risk of death by up to 12 times.

Looking ahead, SOFI 2022 projects that nearly 670 million people, or 8% of the world’s population, will still be affected by hunger in 2030 – a number similar to that recorded for 2015 when the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its SDG 2 (zero hunger) were adopted.

The report recommends that governments “repurpose” the resources being used to incentivize the production, supply, and consumption of nutritious foods to help make healthy diets less costly and more affordable. It also urges countries “to do more to reduce trade barriers,” to help lower the price of nutritious foods, including fruits, vegetables, and pulses.

To complement SOFI 2022, the UNICEF/USAID/WHO Agile Core Team for Nutrition Monitoring (ACT-NM) developed an Analytical Framework to help policymakers “better identify and assess the various pathways and systems that can affect nutrition outcomes.” The creators of the tool recommend it be used for “planning policies, programs, and interventions to mitigate the impact of the major drivers of malnutrition.” [Publication: The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2022] [FAO Publication Landing Page] [SOFI 2022 in Brief] [UN News Story] [FAO Press Release] [UNICEF Press Release] [FAO Webpage on State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World Series] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on SOFI 2021]

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