The world’s hunger crisis is deepening. Global conflict and climate change have taken damaging blows to the world’s food systems, and are two of the biggest reasons why levels of food insecurity and food shortages are skyrocketing around the world.
“Broken food systems are not inevitable. They are the result of choices we have made,” said UN Secretary-General, António Guterres in an address to world leaders at the UN Food Systems Summit.
He added: “There is more than enough food in the world to go around. More than enough money to fund efficient and sustainable food systems to feed the world, while supporting decent work for those who grow the food we eat.”
This echoes one of the biggest calls for change in this year’s Global Citizen Festival campaign, which is to invest in sustainable food systems by supporting smallholder farmers — a group of people that are responsible for producing a third of the world's food.
If we want to change the state of hunger as it is right now, there needs to be more investment into smallholder farmers, who are relied upon to support local food production, job creation for young people in agriculture to help end the cycle of poverty in food insecure communities, and agricultural adaptation to climate and economic shocks that have the ability to severely impact food systems.
The Global Citizen Festival campaign will culminate in a live event, as we return to New York City's Central Park for the annual Global Citizen Festival. We will bring together 60,000 Global Citizens who’ve earned their free tickets by taking action, and you can be one of them!
Join the movement of Global Citizens ending extreme poverty, for equity, for the planet, for food, and for jobs, by adding your voice to the call for agriculture investment for adaptation and the world's smallholder farmers. Download the Global Citizen app and start taking action with us today.
Here are seven facts that help show the scale of the global food crisis, and highlight the urgent need for action-taking to drive investment.
1. Russia’s war in Ukraine has seriously damaged global food systems
The ongoing conflict has had a heavy hand in pushing hunger levels to where they are today. The two countries were the biggest global producers of grains, cereals, and fertilizer. As a result of the war, there have been direct disruptions to the world’s food systems and to the delivery of food to those who need it most.
Not to mention that global grain prices have shot up, and will continue to do so, in direct response to Russia pulling out of the Black Sea Grain Initiative — an export deal with Ukraine that helped maintain global food supply by allowing for grains to be transported directly from the world’s bread basket to the places that need it, particularly in Africa and the Middle East.
2. In 2022, 691– 783 million people in the world faced hunger.
That's 122 million more than in 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic. This means that almost 10% of the world is living without access to enough nutritious food — the highest number of people facing hunger in at least a decade.
This is due to a combination of things including: economic shocks that have impacted food prices; conflict and violence that have impacted access to food for those who need it most (with 70% of those experiencing hunger living in conflict ridden areas); and the impact of the climate crisis on food supplies.
3. A third of food produced globally goes to waste
A stat that really highlights how broken the world's food systems are is that one-third of food produced for human consumption globally goes to waste. You might not realize it, but the world actually produces more than enough food to feed everyone.
But between 1.3 and 2.5 billion tonnes of food produced around the world is wasted or lost every year on the journey from farm to fork — this includes food thrown away by supermarkets and lost in transit.
“More than 780 million people are going hungry while nearly one-third of all food produced is lost or wasted," Guterres says. "More than 3 billion cannot afford healthy diets."
Our systems need to be more sustainable, and this food should instead find its way onto the plates that need it most. Food waste is also not only a hunger issue but also a climate issue, with food waste estimated to contribute 8-10% of total global manmade greenhouse gas emissions.
4. 60% of those facing food insecurity are women
Global hunger is also a gender equality issue, with 150 million more women experiencing food insecurity than men.
This is a result of the normalization of women having to eat last, which comes from gender norms in certain societies, but also providing food for their families is part of the unpaid care work that women are burdened with — and this can see women eating last, and subsequently also eating the least. This is especially true in areas experiencing conflict and crisis.
5. Africa has the highest prevalence of hunger in the world...
…and yet it has the potential to become the world’s bread basket, which means that with the right investment and strategy behind it, the continent (which hosts more than 60% of the world’s arable land) could produce enough grains to be able to export to the rest of the world.
Extreme drought conditions linked to the climate crisis and incessant conflicts in the continent’s sub-Saharan regions are largely to blame for the increasingly high levels of hunger on the continent.
6. Investment in agriculture can directly improve poverty levels
This is a great fact that shows how we can go about fixing escalating hunger levels while alleviating poverty at the same time — because none of the world's challenges exist in a silo and tackling one issue often directly positively impacts another.
We’ve already highlighted that investing in job creation in agriculture is an important step to ending hunger, but according to the World Bank, it is also highly effective in alleviating poverty too.
A report by the World Bank reveals that investment in agriculture is up to four times more effective in increasing the income of those living in poverty than non-agricultural investment. This is crucial to note because not only can investing in agriculture and smallholder farmers directly put food on the table in low-income communities, but it can also boost their household incomes.
7. An estimated 670 million people will be undernourished in 2030
According to the UN’s Food Security Report, the world is currently far off track for reaching its target of ending global hunger by 2030. Instead, at the current rate of progress, we're heading towards a future where we'll barely have moved the needle in alleviating the issue at all.
The report, which also highlights the war against Ukraine as a crisis that will continue to impact hunger levels, states: “It is estimated that nearly 670 million people will still be undernourished in 2030 — 8% of the world population, which is the same percentage as in 2015 when the 2030 Agenda was launched.”
You can help change the narrative on hunger — because hunger, like poverty, is not inevitable. Join Global Citizens around the world and urge world leaders to take urgent action to allievate the global hunger crisis. Get started by signing our petition, then download the Global Citizen app or head to our website, and take more actions to support the Global Citizen Festival campaign, for equity, for the planet, for jobs, and for food.