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World Food Day, 16 October 2018

Working for Zero Hunger

After a period of decline, world hunger is on the rise again. Today, over 815 million people are suffering chronic undernourishment, according to the latest FAO report.

Conflict, extreme weather events linked to climate change, economic slowdown and rapidly increasing overweight and obesity levels are reversing progress made in the fight against hunger and malnutrition.

Now is the time to get back on track. The world can achieve Zero Hunger if we join forces across nations, continents, sectors and professions, and act on evidence.

80 percent of the world's poor live in rural areas where people’s lives depend on agriculture, fisheries or forestry. That’s why Zero hunger calls for a transformation of rural economy.

Governments must create opportunities for greater private sector investments in agriculture, while boosting social protection programmes for the vulnerable and linking food producers with urban areas.

Smallholder farmers need to adopt new, sustainable agricultural methods to increase productivity and income. Ensuring the resilience of rural communities requires an approach that is mindful of the environment, that leverages the power of technological innovation and creates stable and rewarding employment opportunities.

But employment and economic growth aren’t enough, especially for those who endure conflict and suffering.

Zero Hunger moves beyond conflict-resolution and economic growth, taking the long-term approach to build peaceful, inclusive societies.

While millions go hungry, 600 million people suffer from obesity, and a further 1.3 billion are overweight. We can change this.

Key facts and figures

  • The world produces enough food to feed everyone, yet, about 815 million people suffer from hunger. That is one in nine people. 60% of them are women.
  • About 80% of the world’s extreme poor live in rural areas. Most of them depend on agriculture.
  • Hunger kills more people every year than malaria, tuberculosis and aids combined.
  • Around 45% of infant deaths are related to malnutrition. Stunting still affects 155 million children under the age of five years, but at the same time, childhood overweight is on the rise in all regions.
  • 1.9 billion people – more than a quarter of the world’s population – are overweight. 600 million of these are obese and adult obesity is rising everywhere at an accelerated pace.
  • 3.4 million people die each year due to overweight and obesity. In many countries more people die from obesity than from homicides.
  • The cost of malnutrition to the global economy is the equivalent of USD 3.5 trillion a year.
  • FAO estimates that agricultural production must rise by about 60% by 2050 in order to feed a larger and generally richer population. Conflict, extreme weather events linked to climate change and economic slowdown are putting this objective at risk.
  • A vast majority of the world’s hungry - 489 million – and 75 percent of stunted children under age five, live in countries affected by conflict.
  • Climate change is also exacerbating hunger. For example, in developing countries, up to 83% of the overall economic impact of drought, which climate change is expected to intensify, falls on agriculture.
  • One third of the food produced worldwide is lost or wasted. The global costs of food wastage are approximately USD 2.6 trillion per year, including USD 700 billion of environmental costs & USD 900 billion of social costs.

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