|Organisation||International Food Policy Research Institute|
This is a crucial moment for the world’s food systems. Hunger has been on the rise since 2015, and 3 billion people cannot afford healthy diets. At the same time, food systems are placing unsustainable demands on the world’s water and energy resources and contributing a hefty share of greenhouse gas emissions. All these trends were well underway long before COVID-19.
2020, which brought the pandemic, was a year of crisis. And the terrible loss and disruption experienced worldwide will continue in many places through this year and even beyond. Increased poverty, food insecurity, malnutrition, and unemployment have pushed the Sustainable Development Goals further out of reach for many countries, and shone a harsh light on the disparities in our food systems. From these crises, however, have emerged many lessons. Foremost among them is that transforming our food systems is a matter of utmost urgency.
2021 is a year of urgency but also of hope. Vaccines are being distributed, and the health and economic shocks of the pandemic have stimulated creativity and reforms in the private and public sectors. The experience has sparked a willingness to think beyond traditional perspectives — economic, technological, and political. 2021 is also the year of global summits on food systems, climate, and nutrition. Together, this creates an unusual opportunity for the world to choose radical change.