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Publication | 22 March 2021

Ending Hunger by 2030 – policy actions and costs. Food Systems Summit Brief (February 2021)

Brief prepared by Research Partners of the Scientific Group for the Food Systems Summit.

Considering the total number of people affected by moderate or severe levels of food insecurity, an estimated 2 billion people in the world did not have regular access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food in 2019 and 3 billion people could not afford healthy diets. A preliminary assessment of Covid-19 impact suggests that the pandemic may add up to 132 million people to the total number of undernourished in the world in 2020. The world is also not on track to achieve the 2030 targets for child stunting and low birthweight, important indicators of severe malnutrition. According to estimates, in 2019, 21.3 percent (144 million) of children under 5 years of age were stunted, 6.9 percent (47 million) were wasted and 5.6 percent (38.3 million) were overweight.

Achieving SDG2 does not have to be prohibitively expensive, provided that a mix of least-cost measures with large hunger and malnutrition reduction potential are prioritized and could generates high returns in terms of lives saved, people’s well-being and productivity. In order to meet the above mentioned G7 commitment of lifting 500 million people out of hunger and malnutrition by 2030, G7 governments would need to increase their investments by about US$ 11-14 billion per annum over the coming ten years, that is, in addition to what they and governments of low and middle income countries are already investing. This is roughly equivalent to a doubling of current G7 development assistance for agriculture, food security and rural development. Additional investments of US$ 19 billion per year on average will have to be made by low-and middle-income countries.

This policy brief builds on findings from two exercises: the marginal abatement cost curves (MACC) approach, and the computable general equilibrium (CGE) modelling approach. Both approaches show consistent results.

The mix of the identified low-cost, high-impact interventions include agricultural R&D, agricultural extension services, digital agricultural information systems, small-scale irrigation expansion in Africa, female literacy, and some scaling up of existing social protection programs.

Some low-and middle-income countries have made significant progress towards reaching SDG2 in the last decade (50 percent reduction in hunger). Important lessons can be drawn from the factors that drove this performance. The countries spent substantially more on agriculture and experienced relatively high agricultural growth, in parallel to a manufacturing sector in expansion and labour gradually moving out of agriculture and rural areas.

ODA also has an important role to play towards ending hunger and malnutrition. ODA from G7 countries specifically allocated to food security and rural development slightly more than doubled between 2000 and 2018 to reach US$ 17 billion. ODA represented 36 percent of the foreign finance received by African countries south of the Sahara, compared with 31 percent from overseas personal remittances and 23 percent from foreign direct investment.

Conclusions of the Brief are:

  1. Sound investment will facilitate a world without hunger. This includes expanding and intensifying nature-positive agricultural production that is resilient to climate threats.
  2. Donors and affected partner countries must double their investments from now until 2030, and for OECD donors this means a total of about USD 14 billion more per annum.
  3. In countries with hunger problems, agriculture must be a focus; donors and partner countries should agree on, and implement efficient packages of investment and policy measures.
  4. Bring forward investments in social security to address acute hunger, and in research and training, because that takes time to take effect.
Ending Hunger by 2030 – policy actions and costs. Food Systems Summit Brief (February 2021)
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