Scaling up climate resilience across food systems is among the actions needed to counter rising hunger and malnutrition, UN General Assembly President Abdulla Shahid said at a special meeting to address the global food crisis.
Factors including the Covid-19 pandemic, climate change and ongoing conflicts resulted in nearly a billion people going hungry last year, he said.
Meanwhile, the World Bank has warned that the conflict in Ukraine will plunge an additional 95 million people into extreme poverty, and 50 million into severe hunger, this year. “Frankly, we were already falling short of meeting our food-security targets, prior to 2020. However, the situation is now critical,” said Shahid. “The shocks of multiple global crises have weakened our institutions, our economies, and challenged our ability to effectively respond,” he said. Shahid stressed that despite this bleak picture, countries cannot lose hope. They must collectively mobilise to alleviate global hunger and malnutrition, and also address the factors that cause them.
He also highlighted the need to prioritise food security in the world’s least developed countries, landlocked developing nations, and small island developing states, whose citizens “are typically forced to spend a larger share of their income on basic necessities, including food, and are thus disproportionately affected by rising food prices.” Shahid said as countries implement more sustainable and environmentally responsible food-practices, they must also approach food security as part of a broader multilateral agenda that both recognizes the interconnectedness of today’s challenges, and the futility of trying to solve them unilaterally or in isolation. Food systems must be able to provide affordable healthy diets that are sustainable and inclusive, he said.
“Among the actions that we must immediately take include scaling up climate resilience across food systems, strengthening food environments and changing consumer behaviour to promote dietary patterns with positive impacts on human health and the environment,” he added.
“Solving food security also requires us to stop conflicts and pandemics that disrupt supply chains; to repair our relationship with nature, and secure sustainable agriculture; and to strengthen the global institutions working to alleviate poverty and hunger.” Shahid convened the highlevel special event alongside the Committee on World Food Security, and the UN Secretary General’s Global Crisis Response Group on Food, Energy and Finance.
In his message to the meeting, UN chief António Guterres commended the partners for joining forces at what he called “this critical moment.”