前任总干事  若泽·格拉齐亚诺·达席尔瓦
粮农组织总干事若泽•格拉济阿诺•达席尔瓦撰写的评论文章
With the 2030 deadline for Zero Hunger just around the corner, countries of Europe and Central Asia cannot afford to let down their guard

The global community has committed itself to eradicating hunger and all forms of malnutrition by 2030 – the Sustainable Development Goal number 2 of the Agenda 2030. It was a bold and ambitious choice, it will not be easy to achieve, but I remain convinced it can be done.

In the Europe and Central Asia region, countries are on track to succeed. Most of them have made significant progress in reducing the proportion of their populations affected by hunger. But important food security and nutrition issues remain.

Some countries in the region continue to struggle with the “triple burden” of malnutrition: undernutrition, persistent micronutrient deficiencies and, at the same time, rapidly growing rates of obesity and overweight.

Micronutrient deficiencies and overnutrition in children and adults have become two major food security and nutrition concerns across the region, both of which result in reduced human capacity, and productivity losses.

Perhaps most striking is the indicator on moderate or severe food insecurity, based on the Food Security Experience Scale. The survey data reveal that 14.3 million adults in the region still consider themselves to be severely affected by food insecurity.

Hunger and malnutrition have multiple, interconnected causes. This calls for an integrated response. Let’s look at the building blocks of that response:

  • First, sustainable food systems. From production to consumption, sustainable agriculture and food systems deliver food security and nutrition for everyone without compromising the Earth’s ability to continue producing for future generations. Given the effects of climate change, this will mean practicing sustainable agriculture, forestry and fisheries, diversifying production, and ensuring that agriculture contributes to both mitigating and adapting to climate change. It also means that this region’s natural resources – its water, soils, biodiversity, forests, unique and fragile ecosystems – need to be sustainably managed.
  • Second, year-round access to adequate food and healthy diets for all people. Eradicating hunger is not the only big challenge regarding malnutrition. Nowadays, the world is witnessing an epidemic of overweight and obesity. The numbers are growing in most developing and developed countries alike. In 2016, more than 1.9 billion adults in the world were overweight. Of these, over 650 million were obese. The overconsumption of processed foods high in salt and sugars is the major driver behind this increase in overweight and obesity. Countries need to tackle this situation by stimulating healthy diets. National public policies are fundamental. Consumers must be aware of the benefits and detriments of what they are eating. This involves nutrition education, awareness raising, as well as regulations on labelling and advertisements.
  • Third, slashing food waste and loss. As much as one-third of all food produced is lost or wasted every year. To stop this travesty, we are going to need commitments from producers, retailers and consumers in all countries – to minimize food losses during production, storage and transport, and reduce the wasting of food by retailers and consumers while empowering consumer choice. I would like to say here that several food industry players in the region have already come forward with concrete measures and proposals. In several countries, initiatives are underway for raising awareness, identifying solutions and adopting a legislative approach. Improvements in farm efficiency across the region will reduce losses during production.
  • And finally, put an end to rural poverty. Supporting small-scale producers and family farmers is fundamental, because these are the people who hold the key to sustainably feeding a growing global population, and contribute to eradicating extreme poverty by 2030.

With less than 12 years remaining before 2030, the countries of Europe and Central Asia cannot afford to let down their guard. Promoting healthy food systems is key to achieve sustainable development.

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