Future of Food: World Bank Outlines Action Agenda for Food System to Help End Poverty and Hunger

April 16, 2015

WASHINGTON, DC, April 16, 2015 – With 800 million people going to bed hungry every night, countries combatting hunger must build better food systems that raise agricultural productivity in rural areas, invest in improving nutritional outcomes for young children and pregnant women, and boost climate-smart agriculture that can withstand a warmer planet, says a World Bank Group report released today.

The report is titled “Ending Poverty and Hunger by 2030: An Agenda for the Global Food System.

This report is critically important because it provides an overview of key actions that should be taken to end widespread hunger,” said World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim. “Countries should ensure farmers have access to markets, receive fair value for crops, and grow foods that will withstand the rigors of a changing climate. They should invest in food, health, and care for young children and pregnant women, and improve access to nutritious food.”

Kim added: “Taking these steps toward ending hunger can impact other important global issues – it will help end extreme poverty, tackle climate change, and end the scourge of malnutrition that robs many children of a better future.”

The report was released at a Spring Meetings event to frame a conversation on “The Future of Food,” between Kim and David Chang, the world-renowned chef and founder of Momofuku restaurants. Their conversation focused on reducing food waste, improving the logistics of managing and transporting food, and boosting nutrition through sharing knowledge.  Civil society leaders from Brazil and Zimbabwe described their work in feeding local communities.

The historical evolution of the global food system has made possible rapid urbanization and population growth, contributing significantly to welfare improvements in the world,” the report said. “The impacts on poverty and hunger have been positive and significant. Yet we stand at a critical moment in history where we can and must help shape the evolution of the global food system to permanently end poverty and hunger by 2030. Climate change adds to the complexity of this challenge. The agenda is large and will require focused, multi-sectoral approaches, and stronger partnerships.”

In particular, the report focuses on three areas that can have the greatest impact.

The first is climate-smart agriculture. Climate change is projected to reduce crop yields by 15 to 20 percent in the poorest regions if temperatures rise above two degrees Celsius. This is also where food demand is expected to increase the most. Agriculture, forestry and other land-use changes account for about 25 percent of harmful greenhouse gas emissions, with emissions projected to increase. The report said the food system must increasingly deliver three wins simultaneously: higher agricultural productivity, greater climate resilience, and reduced carbon emissions.

The second area is improving nutrition.  Higher incomes improve access to food and nutritional outcomes, but to help end under-nutrition a broader approach beyond income gains is required. Agriculture will need to become more nutrition-sensitive, and nutrition-specific investments will need to be scaled up. The report cited analysis showing that scaling-up 10 proven, nutrition-specific interventions in 34 countries that have 90 percent of the world’s children with stunted growth could help reduce stunting by 20 percent and prevalence of severe wasting by 60 percent.

The third area is strengthening value across food chains and improving market access.  Food demand is projected to grow over the next 15 years—by about 60 percent in sub-Saharan Africa, and 30 percent in South Asia. The report says that poor farmers need to be better linked to markets to benefit from such growth. The report outlines policy and investment areas to help achieve this end.

We call for broad action by all on this agenda to end poverty and hunger by 2030,” said Juergen Voegele, World Bank Senior Director for Agriculture.  “The World Bank is committed to partnership and to help shape a global food system that will deliver a healthier and more prosperous world, now and in the future.”


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