International agencies urge G20 to take action on food insecurity and malnutrition

10 May 20232 min reading

Action on trade and fertilizers are among the topics highlighted in a new report on the global response to food insecurity presented to the G20 by international agencies.

A new report issued by the WTO, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Bank Group on 13 April urges the G20 to coordinate efforts on tackling the root causes of food insecurity. The report emphasizes the need for a unified approach and suggests that the G20 is in a unique position to facilitate collective action. It recommends focusing on improving the supply of development finance to support agriculture investments and to promote sustainable and inclusive economic growth in rural areas.

The report responds to a request from G20 leaders in the communiqué from their Bali summit in November 2022. The main drivers of food crises – lack of adequate investments in agrifood systems and rural areas, research and development, direct impacts from conflict and insecurity, extreme climatic events, and economic slowdowns and downturns - are all expected to persist in 2023 and beyond, the report notes. “The global response prioritized keeping food supply chains functioning, avoiding export restrictions, re-opening Black Sea trade routes, strengthening social safety nets, and continuing to invest in building sustainable food systems. Progress has been made on all these fronts, but any additional supply shocks could turn the current food access crisis into an availability one.”

“Governments must take concrete steps to improve the functioning and long-term resilience of global markets for food and agriculture, including by reducing distortions, improving competition and food safety standards, and – in the longer term – ensuring that the true costs of food and farmed goods are reflected when traded internationally,” the agencies say in their concluding recommendations.

They also call on governments to strengthen the provision of public goods, enhance transparency on trade policies and measures affecting markets, exercise restraint in the use of export restrictions, and revitalise the ongoing WTO negotiations on agriculture to address both short and long-term food security challenges.

 As well as highlighting the need for better access to fertilizers and greater efficiency, the report recommends coordinated action across other areas: ensuring humanitarian assistance funds keep pace with needs; reinforcing social safety nets; strengthening resilience to shocks; addressing financing needs; and supporting agri-food systems transformation. “We must address the underlying causes of hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition,” the agencies warn.

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