In September 2019, the High Level Political Forum noted that the world is “off track” to meeting the Sustainable Development Goals. This echoed the main finding of the first edition of this report, issued in July 2019, that the world was not going to meet most of the food and agriculture-related SDG targets by 2030.
The situation has not significantly changed this year, which marks the 10-year countdown to the end-date of the 2030 Agenda. According to the latest data contained in this report, collected before the COVID-19 pandemic, progress remains insufficient in the food and agriculture domain, suggesting that the world is not on track to meet the relevant targets by 2030.
Now, due to COVID-19, an unprecedented health, economic and social crisis is threatening lives and livelihoods, making the achievement of these targets even more challenging.
The most recent 2019 estimates show that prior to the pandemic, nearly 690 million people, or 8.9 percent of the world population, were hungry – up by 10 million people in one year and by nearly 60 million in five years. Globally, moderate or severe food insecurity rose between 2015 and 2019, and now affects an estimated 25.9 percent of the world population – about 2 billion people, with women being more likely than men to face moderate or severe food insecurity.
The productivity and incomes of small-scale producers are systematically lower than those of larger food producers on average. For the past decade, government spending on agriculture has remained virtually stagnant compared to the share of agriculture in global GDP, at levels markedly lower in the early 2000s.
The proportion of countries facing high general food price volatility decreased in 2017-2018, but over a quarter remained affected.
Only a fraction (1.3 percent) of the world’s approximately 7600 local livestock breeds are stored with sufficient material to allow them to be reconstituted in case of extinction: an inadequate situation given that 73 percent of assessed local livestock are at risk of extinction.
Notwithstanding the reported increase in global holdings of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture, from 4.21 million in 2005 to 5.43 million in 2019, efforts for securing crop diversity continues to be insufficient, particularly for crop wild relatives and underutilized crop species.
Gender inequalities in land rights are pervasive: in 9 out of 10 countries assessed, relatively fewer women than men have ownership and/or control rights over agricultural land.
While water stress remains at a safe 17 percent at global level, regions such as Central and Southern Asia and Northern Africa register very high water stress levels, at over 70 percent.
While it is not possible to estimate the percentage of food waste at the retail and consumption stage yet, the percentage of food lost after harvest on farm and at the transport, storage and processing stages stands at 13.8 percent globally, amounting to over USD 400 billion a year.
Most countries have made good overall progress in implementing international instruments to combat IUU fishing and support small-scale fisheries. However, the proportion of fish stocks within biologically sustainable levels has continued to decrease, dropping from 90 percent in 1974 to 65.8 percent in 2017, 1.1 percentage points lower than in 2015.
The world’s forest area continues to decrease, though at a slightly slower rate than during the previous decades. The proportion of forest area fell from 31.9 percent of the total land area in 2000 to 31.2 percent in 2020 – a net loss of almost 100 million hectares of the world’s forests.
Despite the overall loss of forest, the world has made some progress towards sustainable forest management. Above-ground forest biomass per hectare, the proportion of forest area in protected areas and under long-term management plans, and certified forest area increased or remained stable at the global level and in most of the regions of the world.
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