Marking World Food Day, the United Nations is warning the fight against world hunger is being lost and calling for action to improve food security for the world’s most vulnerable people.
In his message marking World Food Day (Oct. 16), United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres called for vigorous action and investments in strengthening local food systems.
His message comes as nearly a billion people globally do not have enough to eat. The United Nations warns hunger is on the rise, driven globally by conflict, displacement, climate change, and the economic impacts of COVID-19. Among those most at risk, it says, are refugees and those forcibly displaced within their countries by conflict.
The U.N. acknowledges its goal of eliminating world hunger by 2030 will likely not be met.
Guterres says almost 40% of the world’s population, 3 billion people, cannot afford a healthy diet. That, he says, is causing undernourishment, in the form of both malnutrition and obesity, to proliferate globally.
“The pandemic has left an additional 140 million people unable to access the food they need. At the same time, the way we produce, consume and waste food is taking a heavy toll on our planet. It is putting historic pressure on our natural resources, climate and natural environment—and costing us trillions of dollars a year,” Guterres said.
World Food Day marks the anniversary of the founding of the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization, which was established on October 16, 1945, in Quebec, Canada. FAO Senior Program Officer in Geneva Patrick Jacqueson says more than 150 countries hold special events every year in observance of the day.
He says this year’s theme calls for the transformation of agri-food systems to provide enough affordable and nutritious food to people everywhere.
“With an ever-growing population, expected to reach 10 billion by 2050, we need to feed the world and nurture the planet. It is not just about responding to emergencies, it is about building longer-term resilience and changing how we produce and consume food,” Jacqueson said.
The FAO recommends development of diverse agricultural systems, which, it says, are more adaptable to climate change and other shocks.