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Publication | 8 July 2021

Near East and North Africa Regional Overview of Food Security and Nutrition 2020: Enhancing resilience of food systems in the Arab States

Global Food and Nutrition Security

This report examines data available prior to the Covid-19 pandemic that affected the region and the world in 2020. By 2019, the Arab Region was already off track to achieve hunger and nutrition-related SDG targets by 2030. In fact, after good progress during past decades, since 2015-17 the number of undernourished people in the region has been increasing steadily. In 2019, the number of hungry people stood at 51.4 million, or 12.2 percent of the region’s population. If such trends continue, even ignoring the potential impact of Covid-19, the number of undernourished in the region will exceed 75 million people by 2030.

This year, the report focuses its attention on the resilience of the food systems. Resilience is critical to improve food security and nutrition situation in the region, and to ensure that the region's food systems are able to resist and recover from shocks and stresses, like the COVID-19 pandemic. It also includes an in depth analysis of current dietary patterns, and the costs of diets for individuals, society, and the planet.

According to estimates in this report, the adoption of healthy diets in the Arab Region including sustainability could lead to a 96 percent reduction in diet–related health costs according to current consumption and to 34–77 percent reduction in the diet–related social cost of GHG emissions in 2030. Thus, shifting to healthy diets will create significant savings that could be invested now to lower the cost of nutritious foods.