houngbo2_Prabin RanabhatSOPA ImageLightRocket via Getty Images_farmer rice Prabin Ranabhat/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

How to Feed Ourselves

Climate change is accelerating, biodiversity is plummeting, hunger and extreme poverty are skyrocketing, and the gap between rich and poor is widening. Reversing these trends will require a shared effort to upgrade, and even rebuild, the systems on which we all depend – beginning with the global food system.

ROME – Humanity is drifting into increasing danger. Climate change is accelerating; biodiversity is plummeting; hunger and extreme poverty are rising; and the gap between rich and poor is widening. These trends threaten not only human health and livelihoods, but also global peace and stability. Reversing them will require a shared effort to rebuild, and even upgrade, the systems on which we all depend – beginning with the global food system.

Even before the pandemic, our food systems were being disrupted by increasingly severe and frequent extreme weather, such as droughts, and by declining biodiversity. But they were also contributing to these disruptions, because the way we produce and distribute food accounts for more than 30% of global greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions. While the 2015 Paris climate agreement includes targets for reducing these emissions, the world is currently not on track to meet them.

Likewise, in 2015, United Nations member states agreed to the Sustainable Development Goal to end hunger, improve nutrition, and achieve food security (SDG 2) by 2030. Yet hunger has been on the rise for five years – a trend that the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated significantly. In 2019, an estimated 690 million people were hungry, up by ten million from 2018 and by 60 million since SDG 2 was adopted. And at least three billion people cannot afford healthy diets. Today, 41 million people are on the brink of famine.

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