Global Agriculture

50th Session of Committee on World Food Security opens amid multiple challenges to global food security and nutrition

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11 October 2022, Rome: A key global policy platform addressing food security has opened its 50th session, with QU Dongyu, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) underlining its key supporting role amid the global food security crisis and its work on youth engagement and gender equality.

Following last year’s UN Food Systems Summit, Qu, in his address to the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) session’s opening plenary, called for a continued commitment to urgently transform global and national agrifood systems for increased efficiency, inclusivity, resilience and sustainability, to accelerate progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The CFS “has an important supporting role in this aspect as a global multilateral policy platform,” he said, noting that the committee, backed by a High-Level Panel of Experts, chaired by an expert from Switzerland, provides “scientific reports and policy guidelines that contribute to advisory global management of food security and nutrition.”

The FAO Director-General described draft Policy Recommendations on Youth Engagement and Employment, to be discussed by the CFS this week, as “key in engaging the youth, especially young women farmers, scientists and entrepreneurs, in global food security.” Voluntary Guidelines on Gender Equality and Women and Girls’ Empowerment in the context of food security and nutrition will also provide support in achieving the SDGs and sustainable agrifood systems, Qu said.

Focus on state of food insecurity

The Plenary started with a special ministerial-level segment to focus on the state of food insecurity in the world and on fostering coordinated policy responses to the global food crisis, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, ecological and economic shocks, the conflict in Ukraine and protracted conflicts and other humanitarian emergencies around the world.

It was kicked off by a discussion of the 2022 State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World report (SOFI), and will address structural causes of hunger and malnutrition during the course of the session.

The report indicates that as many as 828 million people were affected by hunger globally in 2021. This is an increase of 46 million people since 2020, and 150 million since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition, 2.3 billion people in the world were moderately or severely food insecure in 2021. This is 350 million more people compared to before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Almost 3.1 billion people could not afford a healthy diet in 2020, up 112 million from 2019, reflecting the effects of inflation in consumer food prices stemming from the economic impacts of the measures in put in place to contain the pandemic.

Accelerating action on SDG2

The plenary will also deliberate on the CFS’s strategic direction to accelerate action on SDG-2 (End hunger) based on seven key issues affecting food security and nutrition identified by a recent report released by its its High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition : 1. Building resilient and equitable supply chains for food security and nutrition 2. Strengthening urban and peri-urban food systems in the context of urbanization and rural transformation 3. Conflicts and the fragility of food systems 4. Revitalizing climate policies for food security and nutrition 5. Recognizing the role and rights of food system workers 6. Building a meaningful interface for diverse knowledge systems, technologies and practices for food security and nutrition 7. Emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases and other biological hazard events challenging food security and nutrition.

CFS 50 will kick off a CFS policy convergence process on Data Collection and Analysis Tools for Food Security and Nutrition, and review ways of boosting responsible investment in sustainable agriculture and food systems through a global thematic event, where the Committee will take stock of the uptake of CFS Principles for Responsible Investment in Agriculture and Food Systems .

The session will feature a Special Event on follow-up to the 2021 UN Food Systems Summit, including sharing progress on implementing national transition pathways by volunteer Members.

Hosted by FAO, CFS is a multi-stakeholder, inclusive platform where members, together with FAO, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), World Food Programme (WFP), civil society, the private sector and other stakeholders work collectively to develop and endorse policy recommendations and guidance on a wide range of issues to address systemic and structural causes of hunger and malnutrition. These are developed, building on scientific and evidence-based reports produced by the High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition.

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