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709. Urgent Transformation of the Food System

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Last year, global food prices reached historic highs in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Although the turmoil in the international market has calmed down compared to the past, cost-push inflation in the cost of living has affected the lives of ordinary people due to across-the-board increases in food consumption and other prices.

The war in Ukraine helped turn public attention toward the food crisis, but the number of hungry people was on the rise even before the war. A World Bank blog posted in mid-January points out that the problem is deeper rooted than temporary. Ironically, from 1961 to 2020, global food production has quadrupled, and from 2000 to 2020 alone it has increased by 50%, yet the number of hungry people is growing. There must be something wrong with the way the food system works.

The blog argues that a transformation of the food system is needed to eradicate hunger and make the food system sustainable while providing nutritious food for the world population. Today's food system contributes to one-third of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions and is estimated to be responsible for $12 trillion in social, environmental, and ecological costs each year by encouraging consumers to make unhealthy food choices while posing the dilemma that the healthier food is harder to find. The status quo is not sustainable, and there is a need for a systemic shift in our approach to agriculture and food systems to transform how to produce, transport, and consume food.

The blog acknowledges that, at the same time, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Each country faces different challenges and needs to identify options and strategies to achieve the desired outcomes. The blog stated that transforming food systems requires country-by-country analysis through multi-stakeholder dialogue in the policy formulation process.

Contributor: IIYAMA Miyuki (Information Program)



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