The world should rethink the future of environment and tackle climate change and environmental degradation with ambition and urgency to protect the health, livelihoods. food security and nutrition of all people, according to a joint statement of the UN agencies.
Priority should be given to addressing underlying food security and malnutrition challenges, tackling rural poverty through better jobs in rural economy, said the ILO, FAO, IFAD and WHO.
They also called for facilitating safe migration pathways, promoting formalization of informal economy and extending social protection. The agencies noted that the pandemic has affected the entire food system and laid bare its fragility. They said that border closures, confinement measures and trade restrictions prevented farmers from accessing markets that includes buying inputs and selling produce. It also prevented agricultural workers from harvesting crops and as such disrupting domestic and international food supply chains and reducing access to health safe and diverse diets.
The UN organisations said that the pandemic has decimated jobs and placed millions of livelihoods at risk. “As breadwinners lose jobs, fall ill and die, the food security and nutrition of millions of women and men are under threat, with those in low-income countries, particularly the most marginalized populations, which include small-scale farmers and indigenous people, being hardest hit,” the statement said.
They said that millions of agricultural workers regularly faced high levels of working poverty, poor health, malnutrition and suffer from a lack of safety and labour protection. When experiencing income losses, the farmers resort to negative coping strategies like distress sale of assets, child labour and predatory loans, they pointed out. They also maintained that migrant agricultural workers are particularly vulnerable as they face risks in their transport, working and living conditions.
The ILO, FAO, WHO and IFAD said that nearly 690 million people are undernourished and this number could increase to 132 million by the end of the year. They also noted that nearly half of the world’s 3.3 billion workforce are at risk of losing their livelihoods. Informal economy workers are particularly vulnerable because the majority lack social protection and access to quality health care and have lost access to productive assets.