Food Security: Why hundreds of millions of people go to bed hungry daily ─UN

*United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres at the close of UN Food Systems Summit 2021 urges world leaders to activate food systems that can and must play a leading role in addressing all of nutrition and other socio-economic challenges to realise the Sustainable Development Goals in 148 countries by 2030

Gbenga Kayode | ConsumerConnect

The burning issue of nutrition security in countries, communities and households in every corner of the world has been described as an essential need and human right that is going unfulfilled in recent times.

ConsumerConnect reports António Guterres, United Nations (UN) Secretary-General, who disclosed this development in his closing remarks at the just concluded UN Food Systems Summit 2021 in New York, United States (US), said “every day, hundreds of millions of people go to bed hungry.”

The UN Secretary-General noted among other startling estimates on human sustenance is fast becoming a serious challenge millions of consumers worldwide, as “children are starving, and three billion people cannot afford a healthy diet.”

Guterres also stated that two billion are overweight or obese while 462 million are underweight.

Despite this scenario, he said that nearly one-third of all food that is produced across the globe is lost or wasted.

“We must build a world where healthy and nutritious food is available and affordable for everyone, everywhere,” he stressed.

Far-reaching effects of hunger, malnutrition on consumers, global economy

Guterres disclosed that outbreak of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has made this challenge much greater, just as “it has deepened inequalities” among humans.

He as well explained that the challenge has decimated economies, plunged millions into extreme poverty, and raised the spectre of famine in a growing number of countries worldwide.

The UN Chief further explained that “we are waging a war against nature – and reaping the bitter harvest” manifesting in ruined crops, dwindling incomes, and failing food systems.

“Food systems also generate one-third of all greenhouse gas emissions. And they’re responsible for up to 80 per cent of biodiversity loss,” he said.

Tackling the challenge

In order to tackle the pressing challenge hunger and poor nutrition among consumers, the UN Secretary-General stated that the world leaders know the challenge before them, saying, “it is not new.”

According to Guterres, at the same time, food systems can and must play a leading role in addressing all of these challenges to realise the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

Some African children

He stated: “We know that well. Over the last 18 months, you’ve been part of a remarkable global engagement.

“As the pandemic physically pushed us apart, the preparations for this Summit brought us together.

“Through national dialogues, governments gathered together businesses, communities and civil society to chart pathways for the future of food systems across 148 countries.”

The UN Secretary-General also noted that

Over 100,000 people came together to discuss and debate solutions, many of which were shared at the UN Food Systems Summit 2021.

“You injected new life into multilateralism. And you are leading the way to food systems that can drive the global recovery in three fundamental ways: For people. For the planet. And for prosperity.”

Young school children in South Africa   Photo: Pri.Org

He further urged participants to appreciate that the global community needs food systems that support the health and well-being of all people.

“Malnutrition, hunger and famine are not forces of nature. They are the result of the actions – or inactions – of all of us.

“As a global community, we need to ramp up emergency food and nutrition systems in areas affected by conflict or climate emergencies,” said the Secretary-General.

Guterres added: “We need to invest in early-warning famine prevention systems.

“And we need to shock-proof all of the systems that contribute to nutrition – from food systems themselves, to health, water and sanitation.

Nutritious and diverse diets are often too costly or inaccessible.

This can lead to poor consumer choices – or no choice at all.

I urge governments and businesses to work together to increase access to healthy diets, including by incentivising new behaviours.”

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