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Urgent Call for Investment in Agrifood Systems Amid Global Hunger Crisis

Top officials at the WIF 2023 in Abu Dhabi stressed the vital role of attracting public and private sector investment to improve agrifood systems.

Top officials at the World Investment Forum 2023 in Abu Dhabi emphasized the critical need to attract public and private sector investment to transform agrifood systems, given the global hunger crisis affecting over 735 million people. 

Agrifood systems encompass all activities involved in getting food from where it’s grown to where it’s processed, consumed, and disposed of. 

They are pivotal in addressing pressing global challenges such as malnutrition, poverty, biodiversity loss, and climate change.

Rising Hunger Amid Crises:

A UN report reveals that the number of people experiencing hunger has increased by 122 million since 2019 due to various crises, including the COVID-19 pandemic, natural disasters, and conflicts like the Russia-Ukraine war.

The UNCTAD’s Perspective:

During the eighth edition of the forum, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Deputy Secretary-General Pedro Manuel Moreno emphasized the need for countries to adapt and transform their food systems in response to crises. 

He pointed out that the poorest countries are often the most affected and have the fewest resources to bring about such changes. 

Despite the supply chain disruptions and food price inflation caused by these crises, investments in agriculture and agrifood systems have not significantly increased.

The UNCTAD’s World Investment Report 2023 highlighted that the number of international investment projects in agrifood systems is lower today than in 2015 when the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted.

Moreno stressed the potential of sustainable finance in global capital markets to fund food production. 

He urged participants to explore the role of technology in enhancing productivity and resilience in food systems and reducing loss and waste in supply chains.

Tackling Food Loss and Waste:

Around 13 percent of food produced globally is lost between harvest and retail, with an additional 17 percent wasted in households, food services, and retail combined, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO).

FAO’s Vision:

FAO Director-General Dongyu Qu highlighted the centrality of global agrifood systems to high-priority SDGs. 

Transforming these systems, he argued, would contribute to eradicating poverty, ending hunger, and improving nutrition and make them more efficient, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable. 

Qu stated that mobilizing increased and targeted investment is crucial, estimating that transforming agrifood systems would cost $680 billion annually between now and 2030 in low and middle-income countries, including $425 billion in investments and $255 billion in social safety nets.

In developing countries, farmers, processors, and other actors in agrifood systems require access to financial resources and services to enhance resilience to global shocks. 

The goal is to strengthen national capacities for agrifood transformations that are country-led and tailored to local contexts and specific needs.

The Call for Increased SDG-Aligned Investment:

Experts underscored the urgent need to scale up public and private investments aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals in agrifood systems to reduce food insecurity and promote rural employment, particularly among women and young people.

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