NEW YORK, NEW YORK, US — As the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDS) Summit begins in New York on Sept. 18, bringing together heads of state and government from around the world, the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) released a report showing that food and agriculture SDS indicators have been impacted by multiple shocks and are in a critical state. 

The main conclusions of the report are that the lingering effects of the COVID pandemic, armed conflicts around the world, high inflation and an escalating climate crisis pushed the proportion of the world population facing chronic hunger to 9.2% in 2022, up from 7.9% in 2015. 

“Investment in agriculture has stalled, there is no progress in conserving animal genetic resources, and forest area across the globe continues to shrink,” the report noted.

The report focuses on selected indicators across eight of the SDG Goals that were adopted at a UN Summit in New York in 2015. Highlights from the report include:

  • The prevalence of undernourishment in the world is still far above pre-COVID-19-pandemic levels. Similarly, food insecurity has increased significantly, from 25.3% of the global population in 2019 to 29.6% in 2022.
  • In 2021, the share of countries facing moderately to abnormally high food prices was 21.5%, down from the record of 48% in 2020. However, this figure is still above the 2015–19 average (15.2%), reflecting continued increases in food prices, mainly supported by elevated production and transport costs on account of costlier fertilizers and energy.
  • Agricultural losses directly attributed to natural disasters, which are increasing both in frequency and intensity, amounted to $19.3 billion in 2021, based on data from 22 countries. The percentage of food lost after harvesting on farms and at transport, storage, wholesale and processing levels is estimated at 13.2% globally in 2021, compared to 13% in 2016.
  • The world remains far from maintaining the genetic diversity of plant and animal genetic resources for food and agriculture, either in the field or in gene banks.
  • While the world’s forest area continues to decrease, the rate of decline has slowed compared to previous decades, falling from 31.9% in 2000 to 31.2% in 2020. However, land degradation remains a major concern, with the world having lost at least 100 million hectares of healthy and productive land every year between 2015 and 2019.

The few positive trends noted in the report are in the areas of conservation of plant genetic resources, water use efficiency, and the adoption of instruments to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, the report said.

The Summit marks the mid-point of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which includes 17 goals to be achieved by the end of the decade.

“At the SDG summit, there will be enormous expectations for concrete commitments to be made for reversing the SDGs’ current predicament with tangible actions and results,” said José Rosero Moncayo, director of FAO’s Statistics Division. “To do so, leaders around the world need data that can guide their decisions and help them make priorities.”