JAKARTADAILY.ID – Asian cities are growing at such a fast pace that nearly 55 percent of the region’s enormous population is expected to reside in urban areas by 2030, and that will have equally enormous consequences for urban food security and nutrition, according to the main findings of a new report by four United Nations agencies.
But the threat is not only a future concern, the results are being felt now, according to the ‘Asia and the Pacific Regional Overview of Food Security and Nutrition 2022 – Urban Food Systems and Nutrition’. Published jointly each year, the “SOFI” report is prepared by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Programme (WFP), and the World Health Organization (WHO).
The convergence of an increase in low-income settlements, the rising costs of food, and the need for developing an urban food agenda that takes into account infrastructure, transport, clean water, and waste management are posing new challenges to planners and national policymakers across the Asia-Pacific region.
This report’s highlights, revealed today, capture the challenges and system-level determinants of unhealthy diets in urban areas, both with regard to undernutrition and overweight and obesity.
They profile various urban environments, interventions, experiences, and opportunities to innovate at multiple levels to transform urban areas into sustainable cities. Increasingly, food security and nutrition in the urban context will determine progress, or lack thereof, towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goal to eliminate hunger (SDG2) and the World Health Assembly (WHA) 2030 targets on food security and nutrition.
Asia-Pacific already backsliding in food security targets
This is the fifth annual Asia-Pacific regional SOFI report. In recent years, previous editions reported that progress in the fight against hunger and all forms of malnutrition was stalling, then regressing, and more recently pushing us further off track from achieving the SDGs.
This reverse was evident even before the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in 2020. But as the pandemic continued, albeit in a milder form in most parts of the region by 2022, the 5F crisis emerged (lack of food, feed, fuel, fertilizer, and finance), as did the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, two of the world’s major agricultural producers.
The convergence of these and other issues during the past year resulted in unprecedented food and energy price rises that have hit households and livelihoods hard and pushed additional millions more into hunger and poverty.
In March 2022, the FAO Food Price Index (FPI) capped a steady rise through the previous two years of the COVID-19 pandemic and rose to the highest level since its inception. Since then the FPI has fallen somewhat but remains significantly higher by 28 percent over 2020.
High agricultural input prices, concerns about the weather and climate, and increased market uncertainties stemming from the continuing war in Ukraine are contributing to a tightening of food markets.