The number of people affected by hunger has more than doubled in the past three years, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said. In his message on the World Food Day Guterres said, “almost a million people are living in famine conditions, with starvation and death a daily reality”, adding that this year’s World Food Day was being held “at a challenging moment for global food security”.
A staggering three billion people cannot afford a healthy diet; the war in Ukraine has triggered surging food, fertilizer, and energy prices; and the most vulnerable are being battered by the pandemic, climate crisis, environmental degradation, conflict, and deepening inequalities.
“Referring to this year’s theme, Leave no one behind. Better production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life, Guterres said that farmers need to access reasonably priced fertilizers to ensure enough food next year.
Governments, scientists, and civil society need to work together to make nutritious diets available and affordable for everyone and financial institutions must increase support to developing countries.
“Together, we must move from despair to hope and action” the Secretary-General said. “On World Food Day and every day, I call on you to be part of the change”. The commemoration took place at a time when global food security faces multiple threats, pushing food, energy and fertilizer prices sky high amidst climate crisis and long-standing conflicts.
The annual event commemorates the founding in 1945 of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). A global ceremony at FAO’s headquarters in Rome featured messages from, among others, Pope Francis and Italian President Sergio Mattarella. AO Director-General QU Dongyu said in his address said, “In the face of a looming global food crisis, we need to harness the power of solidarity and collective momentum to build a better future where everyone has regular access to enough nutritious food”.
On top of the 970 000 people at risk of famine in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen, the number of people facing hunger worldwide is on the rise (as much as 828 million in 2021, according to FAO’s latest The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World report) and 3.1 billion people still cannot afford a healthy diet.
We are facing numerous and overlapping challenges from natural and man-made disasters – some recur annually, others are unexpected and unforeseeable, he said adding that after more than two years of a global pandemic, with interruptions to international supply chains, and now with the impacts of the war in Ukraine, we are left with a weak global economy. The most vulnerable have been pushed to the brink of starvation. The number of people suffering from hunger continues to rise and currently stands at 828 million, he said.
FAO DG said, 3.1 billion people globally cannot afford a healthy diet, and the number of acutely food insecure people has risen from 135 million to 193 million. These numbers are the sad confirmation that too many people are being left further behind.
This year’s World Food Day is unprecedented because in spite of the daunting circumstances we face, we also have a promising and hopeful perspective! For the first time, we are seeing an increased and strengthened political will on food security from all politicians, societies and key partners – from developed to developing countries, from rich to poor nations, at local, national, regional, and global level, he said.
There is political momentum to do more and build back better and stronger, together. To take actions to ensure that no one is left behind.