FAO Regional Office for Near East and North Africa
©FAO

Many of the region’s food systems are neither healthy (they cannot ensure access to healthy diets for all people) nor are they sustainable (from an environmental and economical point of view). Building healthy food systems at local, national and regional levels will improve the region’s health, reduce the economic risks of a growing dependence on food imports, will enable the region to cope with continuing population growth and the growing impact of climate change in ways that does not lead to further deterioration of the region’s fragile natural resources even further. 

Priority 2: Addressing the challenge of food security and heathy diets

The structural deficit between production and consumption exposes the region to the uncertainties related to global food commodity markets and require the adoption of approaches that enhance the resilience of the region’s food value chains. On the other side, the region shows alarmingly increasing rates of overweight and obesity. Ill-informed policies continue to promote the production of cereals and sugar. In cities, traditional diets, like the Mediterranean diet, are progressively abandoned to the benefit of heavily processed food.

More efficient value chain, better trade and enhanced food safety and quality have the potential to reduce structural vulnerabilities, contribute to more favourable trade balances, and to the provision of affordable healthy diets for all. This programme focuses on trade, food safety, nutrition education, the reduction of food waste and losses and the promotion of greener cities and urban agriculture.

This priority would help FAO provide its support to member countries to better respond to challenges posed by:

  • Growing demand for food and agricultural products driven by population growth, rising income, and urbanization, in face of scarce and declining land, water and biodiversity resources;
  • Growing problem of malnutrition and food safety.

To address these challenges, FAO’s interventions will aim at:

  • Adopting a food systems approach to food security and nutrition.
  • Transforming food systems to deliver healthy diets will improve people’s health.
  • Reducing the economic risks associated with growing dependence on food imports.
  • Enabling an increasingly urbanized region to meet the food and nutrition requirements of its growing population.
  • Encouraging diversification of production and public-private partnerships towards healthier diets and on strengthening national capacities to improve food quality, food safety, traceability and the detection of contaminants.
  • Seeking to enhance the consumption of nutritious foods by reforming food subsidy policies, raising awareness about healthy diets, fostering consumer protection systems, encouraging appropriate food trade policies and combating food losses and waste.

These interventions will focus specifically on developing more sustainable and healthier urban food systems.