In the 2022 State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (SOFI) report released yesterday, UN institutions presented their annual assesment of progress towards ending hunger and malnutrition, confirming that global hunger is still rising and the world is still not on track to meet the 2030 zero hunger target of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
This year`s SOFI report included a special focus on repurposing food and agricultural policies to make healthy diets more affordable and noted that last year, the number of people affected by hunger globally rose to as many as 828 million, an increase of about 46 million since 2020 and 150 million since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Aditionally, almost 3.1 billion people could not afford a healthy diet in 2020, up 112 million from 2019, reflecting 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.
While the report compiled by the Food and Agriculture Organization, International Fund for Agricultural Development, UN Children's Fund, World Food Programme, and the World Health Organization highlights the “intensification of these major drivers of food insecurity and malnutrition: conflict, climate extremes and economic shocks, combined with growing inequalities,” its focus on statistics is done is a way that pays too little attention to the structural causes of hunger and malnutrition, and the recurrent global food price crisis.
According to SOFI, “the evidence suggests that if governments repurpose the resources to prioritize food consumers, and to incentivize sustainable production, supply and consumption of nutritious foods, they will help make healthy diets less costly and more affordable for all.”
“However, the question is yet again who will get the subsidies to produce and distribute healthy foods: corporations or small-scale food producers? Global supply chains or territorial food markets?” FIAN International policy officer Angelica Castaneda points out.
Existing power imbalances between mighty industry players and local communities are mentioned only marginally. SOFI doesn`t propose profound food systems transformations towards food sovereignty and agroecology.
This year´s SOFI emphasises the need to reallocate limited public resources to reduce the cost of nutritious foods. However, it is the unjust global economic system that has caused these limited public resources and affects particularly the Global South:
"A genuine tranformation of the global food system won’t be possible without systemic changes in the financial and economic systems to stop the accumulation of unsustainable and illegitimate external public debt, including a tax reform”,explains Sofia Monsalve, Secretary General of FIAN International, and continues:“An unconditional cancellation of public external debt is urgently needed to free up immediate resources to re-shape unsustainable food systems. It’s the global economic system that is causing hunger an malnutrition."
As the new layers of global hunger crises triggered by COVID and the war in the Ukraine have shown, food security and malnutrition will not improve until longstanding injustices in the global industrial food system are addressed.
FIAN International’s report, War in Ukraine: Recurring Food Crises Expose Systemic Fragility, sheds light on the main causes of hunger and malnutrition, including reliance on global value chains, marginalisation of local food production and repeated food price volatility caused by growing corporate concentration in food value chains, financialization, speculation practices and lack of market regulation.”
The Covid-19 pandemic was already a wake-up call and the effects of the war in Ukraine are further demonstrating the vulnerablility of global supply chains to shocks such as these. The highly concentrated global division of food production undermines local and national food sovereignty and reduces resilience in times of crisis, as stated in the FIAN report.
“Despite this, once again the authors of the SOFI report have failed to discuss the role of the industrial food system in causing hunger and malnutrition.” Monsalve points out. "Instead, the report continues to propose contentious solutions for food systems transformation centered on technology and the integration of small-scale producers into global value chains. Agroecology remains absent from the report’s recommendations for food systems transformation."
“This will further entrench corporate dominance over food systems and undermine efforts around the world geared towards real transformation based on diversified, local small-scale food production and agroecology”, FIAN’s Secretary General concludes.
For further inquiries please contact Sofia Monsalve: firstname.lastname@example.org