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No time to lose to reverse negative hunger and malnutrition trends

Committee on World Food Security has a leading role in delivering concrete policies, FAO’s director-general says

15 October 2018, Rome - There's still time to deliver on the global pledge to eradicate hunger but "urgent measures" are needed to reverse the recent increase in the number of hungry people, speakers at the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) said today.

 "There is no time to lose," FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva told the opening assembly of the week-long CFS meeting. Failure to eradicate hunger will undermine all the Sustainable Development Goals, meaning "poverty will not be eradicated, natural resources will continue to degrade, and forced migration will continue to rise," he added.

The CFS, open to the civil society, the private sector and other stakeholders, and is the foremost inclusive international and intergovernmental platform for policy coherence and convergence on food security and nutrition.

"CFS must step up, lead the discussions, provide guidance, and deliver concrete policies on nutrition," Graziano da Silva said.


"Our agenda is extremely ambitious," said CFS Chair Mario Arvelo.

"If we are victorious, if every person in every country is sustainably food secure in 2030, that will be the most consequential turning point in history," he added.
"We can offer solutions for lifting this shadow that is eclipsing the human condition."

This year's CFS sessions cover improving food systems and nutrition, Right to Food guidelines, as well as more than 50 side events focusing on issues ranging from climate change and urbanization to rural women, land tenure, food processing, agroecology and livestock management.

Multiple forms of malnutrition

Some 821 million people, or one of every nine people on the planet, suffered from hunger last year, marking the third consecutive annual increase, according to  UN's latest hunger report.

There is ample information on the geographic distribution of hunger and its key drivers, notably climate factors and protracted conflicts, both of which impose their heavy toll on subsistence farmers, Graziano da Silva noted. Improving the livelihoods of poor rural people, and boosting their resilience in the context of disasters and conflicts, is essential, he added.

"We've got to get more serious about ending conflicts," emphasized David Beasley, executive direcgtor of the World Food Programme.

Other forms of malnutrition are spreading, too, notably obesity, which now affects 13.3 percent of the adult global population and is on course to surpass the number of undernourished people in the world. Eight of the 20 countries with the fastest rising rates of adult obesity are in Africa.

"Overweight and obesity must be a subject of public policies, not a private issue," Graziano da Silva said, adding that governments must take the responsibility to provide healthy and nutritious food that is accessible and affordable for everyone, using national legislation as well as targeted programmes to promote the consumption of local fresh food.

The 2030 Agenda calls for strong and extended partnership and the CFS, which brings together a wide range of stakeholders, offers a "unique space of dialogue", he added.

What CFS is doing

CFS delegates will discuss voluntary guidelines on food systems and nutrition s this week and expect to finalize by 2020.

Those guidelines aim to help governments and relevant partners improve food systems, make them more sustainable in ways that confirm with the beliefs, cultures and tradition of individuals, and ensure they benefit the most vulnerable people. They are geared to developing a holistic approach counting the existing policy fragmentation between the food, agriculture and health sectors.

The guidelines will focus on three dimensions in particular: food supply chains, stretching from production and processing to packaging and marketing; food environments, the physical and socio-cultural conditions that shape people's dietary choices and nutritional status; and consumer behavior, which is influenced by the first two factors as well as by personal preferences.

Photo: ©FAO/Giuseppe Carotenuto
FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva addresses the CFS opening session.

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