FAO Report Highlights Stagnation in Achieving Food and Agriculture-Related SDGs

by Ella

In a recent report titled “Tracking progress on food and agriculture-related SDG indicators 2023,” the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has raised concerns about the lack of progress and even regression in achieving food and agriculture-related targets outlined in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The report comes at a pivotal moment, just before the UN’s SDG Summit in New York, where world leaders will convene to review the status of the Agenda’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

According to the FAO report, the global community finds itself off-course in meeting the SDGs, with the situation worsening in recent years due to various challenges, including the enduring impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, armed conflicts worldwide, escalating inflation, and the intensifying climate crisis. These setbacks have hampered efforts to eradicate poverty, combat hunger, improve health and nutrition, and address climate change.


The food and agriculture-related SDG indicators, for which FAO serves as one of the main custodians among UN agencies, are of particular concern. Notable findings from the report include:


Rising Hunger: The proportion of the world population facing chronic hunger in 2022 stood at approximately 9.2 percent, up from 7.9 percent in 2015. FAO estimates indicate that between 691 million and 783 million people experienced global hunger in 2022.


Stalled Agricultural Investment: Investment in agriculture has stagnated, hindering progress in this vital sector.


Genetic Resource Conservation: There has been no notable progress in conserving animal genetic resources.

Declining Forest Area: Global forest area continues to shrink, although the rate of decline has slowed compared to previous decades.

Mixed Picture on Malnutrition: While stunting has decreased from 26.3 percent in 2012 to 22.3 percent in 2022, the rate of reduction remains insufficient to meet global targets. Wasting affects 6.8 percent of children under 5 years of age, while the prevalence of overweight children (5.6 percent) has remained stagnant over the past decade.

Food Price Volatility: In 2021, 21.5 percent of countries faced moderately to abnormally high food prices, albeit lower than the peak of 48 percent in 2020.

Agricultural Losses and Land Ownership: Agricultural losses attributed to natural disasters reached USD 19.3 billion in 2021. In many countries, fewer than 50 percent of men and women engaged in agricultural production have secure land ownership and tenure rights, with gender disparities evident.

Genetic Diversity and Fish Stocks: The world struggles to maintain the genetic diversity of plant and animal genetic resources. Meanwhile, global fish stocks continue to decline due to overfishing, pollution, inadequate management, and illegal fishing.

The report underscores the urgent need for coordinated actions and policy solutions to address deep-rooted inequalities, transform agri-food systems, promote sustainable agricultural practices, and enhance resilience against shocks. It also emphasizes the importance of data capabilities in guiding progress. Despite substantial efforts to strengthen data and statistical systems for SDG monitoring, significant data gaps persist, necessitating increased investments in data generation, particularly in less developed countries.

In conclusion, the report acknowledges that achieving the food and agriculture-related SDG targets is still possible but requires decisive action and international cooperation. It serves as a valuable resource for discussions at the upcoming UN SDG summit, providing an opportunity for countries to recommit to the necessary measures to get back on track toward achieving the 2030 targets.



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