Food (In)security Facts

Hans Hoogeveen draws attention to the food problem in the world, which is sometimes underexposed by the climate issue, while both are closely linked. The facts of the food insecurity don’t lie, but because they are man-made, we must, according to Hoogeveen, also be able to find solutions.

Food (In)security Facts

On 26th September Hans Hoogeveen (1)  delivered a speech at the goodbye event for Marinus Verweij, ICCO’s former CEO. The title of his speech was: “The Climate of Food Security”.  He is clearly about the way forward:

“The multiple challenges the world is facing in terms of food security, climate change, land degradation, depletion of ecosystems and economic and socially inclusive development require integrated responses and a transition to a sustainable, inclusive and resource-efficient path. The crises are man-made, so we can solve it. The solution lies within and among us. However, the count down towards 2030, in which we should have achieved our Sustainable Development Goals, especially Zero Hunger, has started. A little bit more than 10 years to. And we all know we are lagging far behind.” 

Below a summary of the ‘facts‘ and ‘what needs to be done’, derived from Hoogeveen’s speech. The full text of the speech can be requested:

What are the facts?

  • There is a rise of 44 million hungry people since 2015, up to more than 840 million people. Every 9 people is going hungry to bed every day.
  • The impact of our food system on climate, water use, biodiversity loss, land and marine degradation and public health is severe. 
  • Today we are wasting more than one third of our produced food, with a total value of about US$1 trillion.
  • In Sub Sahara Africa almost 70% of food production is lost during and directly after harvesting.
  • Food loss counts for one fourth of the global agricultural greenhouse gas emissions and 8% of the total greenhouse gas emissions.
  • In 2017 almost 124 million people across 51 countries faced crisis levels of acute food insecurity or worse. 
  • Refugee outflows increase by almost 2 percent for each percentage increase of food insecurity.  This means that 800.00 people will migrate probably to Europe the next coming years. 
  • With Africa’s population projected to double from 1.2 billion in 2016 to 2.4 billion people by 2050 demand for food will increase.
  • Africa is annually spending US$ 35 billion to import food to feed its people.  At the same time Africa has the highest concentration of arable land. 
  • From 2014 alone 11 million young people entered the working market. Youth unemployment in Africa, can become one of the largest unprecedented crises in the world.   

What needs to be done?

  • Concerted global and regional efforts, based on undisputed scientific information. 
  • An action-based movement aimed at building consensus as the cornerstone of future agriculture and food systems.
  • Fostering sustainable development in agriculture, to facilitate millions of young people finding a job. 
  • Include youth in innovative finance systems, not just micro-credits, to interest young people in agriculture and make them less likely to migrate.
  • Building robust, resilient and fair food systems.
  • Reconstructing sustainable food systems that include financial and social inclusion, risk management and insurance instruments, social protection, climate-smart agriculture, natural resource management and access to land and water.
  • The millions of dollars invested in humanitarian assistance, must also lay the foundations for a development framework. 
  • Joint efforts and major investments are needed of all stakeholders involved, including governments, NGOs and international organisations, but especially the private sector.
  • The EU should invest the billions in the root causes of migration problems, namely investing in rural and agricultural development in Africa. 
  • Make sure that our heads of state put food security at the middle of their discussions at the UN General Assembly, for example by proposing a Framework Convention for food security like we have done for climate change, including an intergovernmental Panel for Food Systems. It will bring the issue at the highest political level.

(1) Hans Hoogeveen is Ambassador / Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the UN organizations in Rome.