In an increasingly urbanized world grappling with the aftermath of a global pandemic and major geopolitical conflicts, our global food systems face unprecedented challenges. The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2023, launched on 12 July 2023, provides a comprehensive overview of these complexities. This report captures the state of global hunger, malnutrition, and the rapidly changing dynamics of food security. Urbanization, once thought to blur the lines between rural and urban food accessibility, is now drastically reshaping food systems and affecting the availability and affordability of healthy diets.
- Global Hunger: While global hunger numbers have stalled between 2021 and 2022, there are many places in the world facing deepening food crises. Over 122 million more people are facing hunger in the world since 2019 due to the pandemic and repeated weather shocks and conflicts, including the war in Ukraine.
- Nutritional Access: Approximately 2.4 billion individuals, largely women and residents of rural areas, did not have consistent access to nutritious, safe, and sufficient food in 2022.
- Child Malnutrition: Child malnutrition is still alarmingly high. In 2021, 22.3% (148.1 million) children were stunted, 6.8% (45 million) were wasted, and 5.6% (37 million) were overweight.
- Urbanization’s Impact on Diet: As urbanization accelerates, there is a noticeable increase in the consumption of processed and convenience foods, leading to a spike in overweight and obesity rates across urban, peri-urban, and rural areas.
- Rural Dependence on Global Markets: Previously self-sustaining rural regions, especially in Africa and Asia, are now found to be increasingly dependent on national and global food markets.
- Future Outlook: By 2050, it’s projected that 70% of the global population will reside in cities. This significant demographic shift necessitates a reorientation of food systems to cater to these new urban populations and eradicate hunger, food insecurity, and malnutrition.