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Geneva, Juk 13 (Canadian-Media): In much of the world, “hunger remains deeply entrenched and is rising”, the UN chief said on Monday, launching this year’s major UN food security update, highlighting that over the past five years, tens of millions of people have joined the ranks of the chronically undernourished.
Women farmers harvest grains in Gisar, Tajikstan. Image credit: FAO/Nozim Kalandarov
As countries “continue to grapple with malnutrition in all its forms, including the growing burden of obesity”, Secretary-General António Guterres said that this year’s State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World report “sends a sobering message”.
The authoritative global study tracking progress towards ending hunger and malnutrition, is produced jointly by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), International Fund for Agriculture (IFAD), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), World Food Programme (WFP) and World Health Organization (WHO).
In the Foreword, the heads of the UN agencies involved cautioned that “five years after the world committed to end hunger, food insecurity and all forms of malnutrition, we are still off track to achieve this objective by 2030.”
In his video message marking the launch, the UN chief spelled out that if the current trend continues, “we will not achieve Sustainable Development Goal 2 – zero hunger – by 2030”.
Pandemic ‘wake-up call’
As progress in fighting hunger stalls, the coronavirus pandemic is intensifying the vulnerabilities and inadequacies of global food systems, making things even worse.
“We cannot continue thinking of agriculture, the environment, health, poverty and hunger in isolation”, IFAD President Gilbert F. Houngbo said at the virtual launch. “World problems are interconnected, and the solutions are intertwined. The current pandemic is a wake-up call to all of us”.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that "while it is too soon to assess the full impact of #COVID19, the report estimates that 130 million more people may face chronic hunger by the end of this year",
At the same time, Mr. Guterres maintained that COVID-19 response and recovery investments must help deliver on the longer-term goal of a more inclusive, sustainable world, with resilient food systems for people and planet.
“The transformation can begin now”, he upheld.
To help “make healthy diets affordable and accessible for everyone”, Mr. Guterres announced that he would be “convening a Food Systems Summit next year”.
Against the backdrop that “many more people could slip into hunger this year”, the UN chief concluded: “We cannot let this happen”.