COVID-19 has set back progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) enshrined in the UN’s Agenda 2030, undermining decades of development efforts, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
Stating that it was an alarming situation, FAO Chief Statistician Pietro Gennari said that progress on many SDG targets has been reversed with a significant impact on all aspects of sustainable development and making the achievement of the 2030 Agenda even more challenging.
The FAO said that the world was falling in the following areas:
- The COVID-19 pandemic might have pushed an additional 83-132 million into chronic hunger in 2020, making the target of ending hunger even more distant.
- An unacceptably high proportion of food (14 percent) is lost along the supply chain before it even reaches the consumer
- Agricultural systems bear the brunt of economic losses due to disasters
- Small-scale food producers remain disadvantaged, with women producers in developing countries earning less than men even when more productive
- Food price volatility has increased, due to the constraints placed by the COVID-19 pandemic and associated lockdowns
- Progress remains weak in maintaining plant and animal genetic diversity for food and agriculture
- Gender inequalities in land rights are pervasive Discriminatory laws and customs remain obstacles to women’s tenure rights
- Water stress remains alarmingly high in many regions, threatening progress towards sustainable development
However, the FAO also points to several areas in which progress is being made. These include: implementing measures against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing: sustainable forest management: eliminating agricultural export subsidies: investment to boost agricultural productivity in developing countries and duty-free access for developing and Least Developed Countries (L.DCs) particularly for agricultural products.
FAO’s report coincides with this week’s UN Food Systems Summit, which aims to raise global awareness and spur actions to transform food systems, eradicate hunger, reduce diet-related diseases and heal the planet.
- Scale up investment in agriculture, improve access to new agricultural technologies, credit services and information resources for farmers
- Support small-scale food producers: conserve plant and animal genetic resources for food and agriculture
- Adopt measures to counter food price volatility, and prevent potentially hazardous events from devolving into full-blown disasters.
- Use water more efficiently in regions most affected by high water stress
- Better targeted interventions to reduce food losses and waste more protection of terrestrial and forest ecosystems.