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Dhaka Tribune

FAO: Asia Pacific has multiple challenges to reach disadvantaged population

A recent UN report predicted that the region, as a whole, is so far off-track from meeting the SDG 2030 deadline

Update : 17 Oct 2022, 04:17 PM

Global conflicts, a lingering pandemic, inflation, erratic swings in the price of energy, fertilizers and basic foods were some of the major challenges facing countries and people in the Asia-Pacific region as it marked World Food Day on Sunday.

The world’s biggest region -- home to most of the planet’s hungry -- has been backsliding in its quest to end hunger and malnutrition in all its forms, one of the world’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG2 – Zero Hunger) , the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) said in a press release on Monday.

A recent UN report predicted that the region, as a whole, is so far off-track from meeting the SDG 2030 deadline, it would need an additional 35 years to hit all 17 SDG targets.

While the pandemic, inflation and the other challenges are a major influence on the present situation, successive annual editions of FAO’s flagship publication, the State of Food Security and Nutrition had warned the fight against hunger and malnutrition was failing in Asia and the Pacific.

By 2021, more than 400 million people in the region were malnourished, most of them in South Asia, with 40% of all the region’s inhabitants unable to afford a healthy diet.

At a regional World Food Day observance ceremony in Bangkok, speakers discussed the need for a revitalized effort -- involving multiple stakeholders -- to reset the region on a path to end hunger, poverty and inequalities.

“We need to empower the most vulnerable, including small-scale producers, by investing in global agrifood systems. This means improved access to training, incentives, science, data, technology and innovation, so that small-holders can be at the centre of this transformation,” said FAO Director-General, Dr QU Dongyu, in a video statement.

“We need decent rural employment and services, and to end child labour, while fostering gender equality and supporting rural and Indigenous Peoples who are the custodians of much of the earth’s biodiversity.”

FAO’s Special Goodwill Ambassador for Asia and the Pacific Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn of Thailand also addressed the ceremony with a video message.

“Agrifood systems should be transformed to be more resilient to shocks and stresses, including natural disasters and pandemics such as Covid-19. This would require innovative and cost-effective measures aimed at providing social protection to reduce vulnerabilities, particularly of women, indigenous peoples and socially marginalized smallholders,” she said.

A guest speaker from Nepal, Bonita Sharma, co-founder and CEO of the group Social Changemakers and Innovators, spoke about the importance of engaging the region’s youth to elicit their ideas on how to achieve better nutrition through innovation.

FAO’s “Four Betters” approach to leave no one behind 

FAO is working with its member nations in Asia and the Pacific to help them achieve the SDGs through a systematic approach known as the four betters.

“FAO’s goal is a sustainable and food-secure world for all. We are supporting our Member Nations in their efforts to achieve the 2030 Agenda through a transformation to more efficient, inclusive, resilient and sustainable agrifood systems, leading to better production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life, leaving no one behind,” said Jong-Jin Kim, assistant director-general and FAO regional representative for Asia and the Pacific.

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