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Help eliminate hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition

Our challenge: there is sufficient capacity in the world to produce enough food to feed everyone adequately; nevertheless, in spite of progress made over the last two decades, 842 million people still suffer from chronic hunger.

Among children, it is estimated that 162 million under five years of age are chronically malnourished (stunted). Micronutrient deficiencies, or “hidden hunger,” affect over two billion people worldwide, impeding human and socio-economic development and contributing to the vicious cycle of malnutrition and underdevelopment. At the same time, an estimated 500 million people are obese. 

Beyond the ethical dimensions of this complex problem, the human, social and economic costs to society at large are enormous in terms of lost productivity, health, well-being, decreased learning ability and reduced fulfillment of human potential.

Political commitment

Over the past two decades, leaders world-wide have made pledges at various high-level events to reduce hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition. Most recently, at the Rio+20 Summit, the UN Secretary General called upon all development partners to take up the “Zero Hunger Challenge”.  However, for a drastic reduction in world hunger, these pledges, have to be  translated into policy and programme implementation and the mobilization of sufficient resources.

FAO,  working with governments, civil society, the private sector and other development partners is focusing on fostering  political commitment and accountability, improving capacities and mobilizing resources at all levels to eradicate hunger and all forms of malnutrition.

Governance and coordination

Achieving food security calls for its different dimensions to be adequately addressed, including food availability, access, stability and utilization. Similarly, good nutrition depends on effective actions across sectors, including improving access to a diverse diet, appropriate care and feeding practices, and adequate health and sanitation. Given this complex challenge, progress will depend on effective governance systems, and the involvement of many stakeholders across sectors, with participation, transparency, equity and accountability as key principles.

At global level, the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) provides a single platform for food security governance. At regional, national and sub-national levels, various sectoral policies and programmes need to be designed and coordinated in way to ensure relevance and purposeful action towards the eradication of hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition.

High and volatile food prices, natural resource degradation, globalization, urbanization and climate change are just a few examples of major food security challenges today, where strengthened governance mechanisms and effective coordination across sectors, can make a real difference.