Beijing – China has made strides in reducing undernourishment, but worldwide hunger and malnutrition are on the rise, according to the 2018 State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (SOFI) report, launched locally today in Beijing.
Jointly produced by five UN agencies — the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Programme (WFP), and the World Health Organization (WHO) — the annual SOFI report finds the numbers of hungry people reached 821 million in 2017, up from 815 million the previous year.
“The alarming signs of increasing food insecurity and high levels of different forms of malnutrition are a clear warning that there is considerable work to be done to make sure we ‘leave no one behind’ on the road towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals on food security and improved nutrition,” the heads of FAO, WFP, IFAD, UNICEF and WHO warned in their joint foreword to the report.
While conflict and hunger remain significant drivers of hunger, this year’s edition takes a closer look at the fallout of frequent and intense climate extremes and climate variability.
“We must take action quickly while there is still time to halt the erosion of our hard won gains in ending hunger,” Nicholas Rossellini, UN Resident Coordinator for China stated at the launch event “tackling climate resilience head on is one action that will help put us back on track towards meeting the goal of zero hunger.”
Nearly 60 representatives from the Chinese government, humanitarian organizations and the private sector attended the launch.
“The food security issue can’t be solved without international cooperation, especially the cooperation between different UN agencies,” said Dr. Tang Shengyao, Deputy Director General of the International Cooperation Department of the Ministry of agriculture and Rural Affairs (MARA). “I hope that the launch event will become an opportunity for an even stronger partnership between the UN agencies and China as well as other UN member states. Let’s join hands to work towards achieving the 2030 SDG goals and build a world without hunger and poverty.”
The participants agreed that China’s experience in hunger elimination and nutrition promotion could be valuable to many other countries in the world. Dr. Zhang Zhiqiang, Deputy Director General of the Department of Food Safety Standards, Risk Surveillance and Assessment under China’s National Health Commission said China has strengthened policies, laws and regulations for improving people’s nutrition. “China’s State Council has issued the National Nutrition Plan (2017-2030) to address existing nutrition issues in China such as anemia, childhood stunting, and obesity as well as emerging future challenges of food security, environment and nutrition,” he explained.
The joint UN report monitors progress towards ending hunger, achieving food security and improving nutrition. This year’s edition finds hunger has been on the rise over the past three years, returning to levels of a decade ago.