A Journey Towards Food Security and Sustainable Agriculture
Sustainable Development Goal 2 (SDG 2) aims to end hunger, achieve food security, improve nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture by 2030. With the ever-growing global population, ensuring access to safe and nutritious food for all has become an urgent priority. This article provides an overview of SDG 2, examines its progress, highlights the challenges encountered, and outlines the way forward in achieving a world without hunger.
Overview of SDG 2
Hunger and food insecurity are complex and interrelated challenges that come from a multitude of reasons around the world. The magnitude of these difficulties is highly determined by food production and market governance systems, legal and socioeconomic frameworks, and environmental factors. Simply increasing food production will not suffice to alleviate the challenge of global hunger. Thus, the fight against global food insecurity depends not only on production but also on people's ability to acquire food generally, whether through economic means or closeness to availability.
The availability, access, usage, and stability of food are only a few of the many aspects of food security that are addressed by SDG 2. It acknowledges the necessity of fostering sustainable agricultural practices, enhancing agricultural output, and ensuring small-scale farmers have fair access to resources. Additionally, SDG 2 emphasises the importance of eradicating other types of malnutrition, including obesity, micronutrient deficiencies, and undernutrition. Like the other 17 global goals, SDG 2 has eight global targets and accompanying measurement indicators to help it be properly pursued. These indicators serve as a framework for monitoring performance and gauging progress toward achieving SDG 2.
Now, before delving into the challenges regarding SDG 2, it is important to understand the significance and relevance of focusing on this goal.
Why it Matters
SDG 2 Fact Sheet: Hunger, Malnutrition, and Food Security according to SDG Report 2022
Global Hunger: Between 720 million and 811 million individuals worldwide experienced hunger in 2020, an increase of about 161 million from the previous year.
Childhood Stunting: In 2020, 22.0% of children under the age of 5, totaling 149.2 million children globally, experienced stunting, which is a condition characterized by low height for their age. This percentage decreased from 24.4% in 2015.
Childhood Wasting: In 2020, 6.7% of children under the age of 5, approximately 45.4 million children, suffered from wasting, characterized by low weight for height.
High Food Prices: The percentage of countries burdened by high food prices increased significantly from 16% in 2019 to 47% in 2020. This rise indicates the challenges faced in ensuring access to affordable and nutritious food.
Targeted Reduction: To achieve the goal of reducing the number of stunted children by 5% by 2025, the current yearly decline rate of 2.1% must double to 3.9%.
Despite the aforementioned facts about global conditions surrounding food insecurity and malnourishment, let’s see how this scenario gives us a reason to solve food insecurity.
Goals for sustainable development are significantly hampered by extreme hunger and malnutrition. It is difficult for people to escape the cycle of poverty and enhance their general well-being when they do not have access to adequate food to meet their fundamental necessities. It is difficult to break out of the vicious cycle that hunger and malnutrition generate. People who don't have access to enough food are less productive since they don't have the energy and nutrition they need to function at their best. In consequence, this maintains poverty and reduces chances for economic development. People with hunger and malnutrition have compromised immune systems, which makes them more prone to illness and disease. This not only has an impact on their general health but also limits their capacity to work and make a living, worsening poverty and impeding socioeconomic advancement.
For a sustainable and successful future to be achieved, the problem of hunger and malnutrition must be addressed. People can live healthier lives, be more productive, and contribute to their communities and economy if they have access to sufficient, safe food. The cycle of hunger and malnutrition can be broken with the help of initiatives aimed at raising agricultural output, encouraging sustainable farming methods, enhancing social protection programs, and building partnerships.
Even with the advancement, there are still several obstacles in the way of SDG 2. Because of the disruption caused by shifting weather patterns, catastrophic weather events, and rising temperatures, climate change poses a serious danger to agricultural productivity. Political unrest and conflicts aggravate the problem of food insecurity by causing migration and impeding the expansion of agriculture. People who are poor or have unstable employment are more likely to experience hunger and food insecurity 1 . Despite the progress, numerous challenges persist in the journey towards SDG 2. Climate change poses a significant threat to agricultural productivity, as changing weather patterns, extreme events, and rising temperatures disrupt farming systems. Conflicts and political instability also exacerbate food insecurity, leading to displacement and hindering agricultural development. Individuals experiencing poverty or facing uncertain livelihoods are at a higher risk of encountering hunger and food insecurity 1 . These risks are made worse by the existence of income inequality, which widens the gap and makes it much harder for disadvantaged communities to access adequate and dependable food sources 1 . Other issues such as the lack of rural infrastructure further complicate efforts to achieve food security for all.
The Way Forward
To accelerate progress towards SDG 2, a multi-faceted approach is required:
Sustainable Agriculture: Promoting sustainable and climate-smart agricultural practices is crucial. Investing in research and development of resilient crop varieties, efficient irrigation systems, and sustainable farming techniques can enhance productivity while minimizing environmental impact.
Social Protection: Strengthening social protection programs, such as cash transfers and school feeding initiatives, can provide a safety net for vulnerable populations and improve their access to nutritious food. Targeted interventions for women, children, and marginalized communities are essential to address specific nutritional needs.
Nutrition Education: Increasing awareness about balanced diets, healthy eating habits, and proper nutrition is vital. Empowering individuals with knowledge of diverse and nutritious food choices can help combat malnutrition and reduce the prevalence of diet-related diseases.
Public-Private Partnerships: Collaborations between governments, private sector entities, and civil society organizations are essential to mobilize resources, share expertise, and drive innovation in agriculture and food systems. Such partnerships can promote sustainable investment, technology transfer, and market access for smallholder farmers.
Policy and Governance: Strengthening governance frameworks and policies that support sustainable agriculture and food security is critical. Governments should prioritize investment in rural infrastructure, land tenure security, and agricultural research and extension services.
Having discussed the overview of SDG 2, it can be concluded that the world is not entirely on pace to accomplishing its goal. A progress report shows that SDG2 has experienced significant stagnation or regression in its achievement, similar to other SDGs. SDG 2 nevertheless acts as a call to action for addressing the intricate and interrelated problems of hunger, malnutrition, and unsustainable agriculture. Even while progress has been achieved, there is still a long way to go to end hunger.
To achieve success, it is crucial to tackle various additional challenges simultaneously. These challenges include environmental degradation (addressed in SDGs 14 and 15), global climate change (SDG 13), poverty (SDG 1), armed conflicts (SDG 16), volatility in commodity prices (SDG 17), and a lack of technology, investment, and capacity-building support in many countries (SDG 9).
It is essential to take on multiple more difficulties at once if you want to succeed. These difficulties include environmental degradation (handled in SDGs 14 and 15), global climate change (addressed in SDG 13), poverty (addressed in SDG 1), armed conflicts (addressed in SDG 16), commodity price volatility (addressed in SDG 17), and a lack of technology, investment, and support for capacity-building in many countries (addressed in SDG 9). By addressing these interconnected issues, we can create a more comprehensive and effective approach toward achieving sustainable development and SDG 2 1 , we can create a future where everyone has access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food.