The calendar is about to turn the page over to a new year and that new year brings hope for a world currently gripped by a pandemic that has wreaked havoc for months. COVID-19 has made 2020 the year we wish we could forget but never will. With the roll-out of
vaccines, the end of the pandemic and its related global disruptions seem to be in sight. But not everyone will be able to breathe a sigh of relief.
As we draw to the end of 2020, COVID-19 rages on; hunger numbers are on the increase; and we are not on track to meet the 1.5C Paris target to limit global warming. According to the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 Dashboard, 72 million people have been infected with the novel coronavirus and 1.7 million have died. And counting. According to the IMF, the measures taken to combat the virus have led to GDP declines of around 4-10%, depending on the country.
Ensuring markets provide enough nutritious and safe food to those living in poverty in low income countries is an urgent priority. Many in such markets across the world lack access to affordable foods that are safe and rich in the nutrients needed to sustain life and livelihoods.
In 2021 we nutrition champions are blessed with not one, but two summits to advance nutrition outcomes. The UN Food Systems Summit (FSS) will take place in September in New York and the Nutrition for Growth Summit will be held in Tokyo in December.
As COVID-19 continues to impact millions of lives and jobs around the world, it is also making our global food system increasingly vulnerable. The poverty, malnutrition and food insecurity that were already challenges before the pandemic – with 820 million people chronically hungry in 2018 – are set to grow as a result of it.
"Biblical". That was the word that the world’s press needed to (finally) run stories about the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on food and nutrition. Thank you to the Executive Director of the World Food Programme, David Beasley, for the turn of phrase.
With the spread of COVID-19 we find ourselves plunged into a global health crisis. By most accounts we are only at the early stages of the pandemic so it is going to reshape economy, society and politics, probably permanently.
The latest nutrition data out of Bangladesh describe a situation brimming with promise. The Bangladesh Demographic and Health Survey (BDHS) 2017/2018 estimates stunting at 31% and the UNICEF Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) 2019 shows an even lower estimate of 28%.
The clock is ticking. We are just 10 short months from the Nutrition for Growth Summit (N4G) in Japan in mid-December. Many people are working hard with the Government of Japan and partners, allies and colleagues to energise the nutrition base - and beyond - about the Summit and to develop commitments that will accelerate improvements in nutrition.
I go to many meetings where the term "food system transformation" is bandied about. Sometimes the term goes unquestioned - for some people it has entered into the rarefied atmosphere of development jargon. But increasingly (thank goodness) the question is being asked: what does food system transformation mean? So what is the answer?