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Strengthening food systems in fragile contexts – A GloPan policy brief

  |   SUN Country Network

Photo: FAO/Marco Longari

The Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition today announces the launch of its latest policy brief, Strengthening Food Systems in Fragile Contexts.

This policy brief seeks to stimulate international organisations, governments, and other stakeholders, to realign policies within fragile contexts to ensure that diet and nutrition are improved, whilst also building more sustainable, resilient food systems.

1.8 billion people live in fragile regions with high societal, economic, environmental, political and security risks. By 2030, this is projected to reach 2.3 billion, and will include 80% of the global poor (OECD). The consequences of these risks, magnified by the COVID-19 pandemic, include unpredictable food supplies, price volatility, high input costs, disrupted markets and limited food safety regulation, all of which will leave many people unable to access healthy diets.

In 2020, fragile states were disproportionately affected by ongoing food crises with serious ramifications for the lives and livelihoods of those most affected.

Dr Shenggen Fan, Global Panel Member and Chair Professor of China Agricultural University, said: “For the 1.8 billion people who live in economically, ecologically and/or politically fragile parts of the world, the vulnerability of food systems and the threat of malnutrition is not just a risk, it’s the reality.”

The Global Panel’s policy brief argues that the international community, and policymakers in fragile low- and middle-income countries, must put greater emphasis on making food systems more resilient to the many negative forces contributing to fragility today. While saving lives and livelihoods in crises must remain a humanitarian imperative, steps can be taken, even in fragile settings, to make food systems more capable of providing healthy and sustainable diets for all.

Rather than proposing new policy actions, this brief recommends priorities which incorporate a combination of interventions with particular focus on the ‘missing middle’ between consumer demand and supply.

Special Envoy to the UN Food Systems Summit and Global Panel Member, Dr Agnes Kalibata, remarked that “Single hazards are a major challenge to reducing poverty and malnutrition but the combined impact of multiple hazards can be devastating”. She added, “COVID-19 has further amplified these and risks pushing fragile food systems further into nutritional crisis.”

A range of political, social, economic and environmental challenges often coalesce in fragile settings. Promoting healthy and sustainable diets can be seen as a second-order concern when so many individuals are hungry. The brief highlights the reasons why conflict and climate change are mutually linked with food system fragility and are two of the most important factors which are driving recent increases in global levels of undernourishment.

When dealing with the food system challenges presented in fragile contexts, policymakers must rethink their approach, paying specific attention to nourishing populations rather than just addressing hunger. This will require better links between humanitarian and development actors to support actions across all domains of the food system to increase access to healthy diets.

Unless this is done, hundreds of millions of people will be unable to access healthy diets.


The policy brief is now available here:

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