The report focuses on the 21 SDG indicators under FAO custodianship and on another ten SDG indicators “with a strong bearing on the food and agriculture sphere”.
The indicators span SDGs 1 (no poverty), 2 (zero hunger), 5 (gender equality), 6 (clean water and sanitation), 10 (reduced inequalities), 14 (life below water), and 15 (life on land).
The report seeks to support countries in “taking all the necessary measures to get back on track” to achieving the SDGs by 2030.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) published its 2023 analysis of trends on selected indicators across eight SDGs. The report finds that while progress on many of the food and agriculture-related targets has stagnated or reversed, and data gaps persist, the “vision of a world with zero hunger and malnutrition, and with sustainable agriculture, is still within reach.”
The report titled, ‘Tracking Progress on Food and Agriculture-related SDG Indicators 2023,’ focuses on the 21 SDG indicators under FAO custodianship and on another ten SDG indicators “with a strong bearing on the food and agriculture sphere.” The indicators span SDGs 1 (no poverty), 2 (zero hunger), 5 (gender equality), 6 (clean water and sanitation), 10 (reduced inequalities), 14 (life below water), and 15 (life on land).
An FAO press release underscores that, per the report’s findings, to achieve the food and agriculture-related SDG targets, urgent coordinated actions and policies are needed “to address entrenched inequalities, transform agri-food systems, invest in sustainable agricultural practices, and bolster resilience against shocks,” while improving data capabilities, especially in less developed countries, to guide transformative change.
The report shows that there have been positive trends in the areas of conservation of plant genetic resources, water use efficiency, and the adoption of instruments to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. While the world’s forest area fell from 31.9% in 2000 to 31.2% in 2020, it notes that, compared to previous decades, the rate of decline has slowed.
However, many of the food and agriculture-related SDG indicators are in a critical state, according to the report. For example, the proportion of the world population affected by chronic hunger in 2022 was approximately 9.2%, compared to 7.9% in 2015. FAO’s latest estimates indicate that in 2022, between 691 million and 783 million people experienced hunger. The report further shows significant increases in food insecurity, from 25.3% of the global population in 2019 to 29.6% in 2022.
The publication paints a mixed picture of malnutrition-focused SDG indicators. For example, stunting has decreased from 26.3% in 2012 to 22.3% in 2022 but, the report warns, the rate of reduction is insufficient to achieve the global target. In addition, in 2022, 6.8% of children under five were affected by wasting while the proportion of overweight children remained stagnant at 5.6%.
The report further reveals that in 2021, 21.5% of countries faced “moderately to abnormally high food prices,” compared to the record high of 48% in 2020. The average for 2015-2019 of 15.2% points to continued hikes in food prices, mainly due to increases in production and transport costs resultant from more expensive fertilizers and energy.
Other findings include:
- Based on data from 22 countries, in 2021, agricultural losses directly attributed to natural disasters amounted to USD 19.3 billion;
- Globally, in 2021, 13.2% of food was lost after harvesting on farms and during transport, storage, wholesale, and processing, compared to 13% in 2016;
- Fewer than half of women and men involved in agricultural production have ownership of the agricultural land or secure tenure rights, while in almost half of the countries, the share of men among landowners is at least double that of women; and
- At least 100 million hectares of healthy and productive land were lost every year between 2015 and 2019 due to land degradation.
Launched at a high-level event in New York, US, on 15 September 2023, ahead of the SDG Summit, the report seeks to support countries in “taking all the necessary measures to get back on track” to achieving the SDGs by 2030.
Food systems transformation is one of 12 High Impact Initiatives the UN Secretary-General identified for the UN development system to mobilize around for the SDG Summit. [Publication: Tracking Progress on Food and Agriculture-related SDG Indicators 2023] [Publication Landing Page] [Digital Report] [FAO Press Release] [FAO Event Page] [FAO SDG Indicators Data Portal]