United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for swift and decisive action to counter an impending global food emergency because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Unless immediate action is taken, it is increasingly clear that there is an impending global food emergency that could have long-term impacts on hundreds of millions of children and adults,” Guterres said in a video message that accompanied his latest policy brief.
The secretary-general’s brief highlighted that even before the pandemic, millions were already struggling with hunger and malnutrition. Estimates show that over 820 million people still do not have enough to eat, despite having more than enough food in the world for everyone. Malnutrition is also seen as a major reason why some 144 million children under the age of five are stunted or too small for their age. What’s worse, the UN says the numbers will undoubtedly rise.
“Our food systems are failing and the COVID-19 pandemic is making things worse,” Guterres said.
The policy brief laid out three recommendations to help save livelihoods and lives while supporting the transition to a more sustainable future. First, countries should designate food and nutrition services as essential while providing necessary protections for workers in the sector. Second, governments must strengthen social protection systems for nutrition. And third, Guterres urged nations to establish food systems that address the needs of both workers and producers, systems that are inclusive and sustainable.