According to Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi speaking at the opening of the United Nations Food Systems Pre-Summit in Rome, the world must ensure people have access to food supplies as aggressively as it did to ensure access to vaccines during the pandemic.
“The health crisis (COVID-19) has led to a food crisis,” he said, referring to recent data showing that malnutrition has become the leading cause of poor health and death in the world.
Draghi’s observations come as the U.N.’s first-ever Food Systems Summit is set to take place in September, with the aim of addressing the UN’s 2030 sustainable development goals (SDGs).
Recent data additionally shows that “the world’s food system, which involves cutting down forests to plant crops, is responsible for a third of global greenhouse gas emissions, making it a leading cause of climate change,” according to Reuters.
“We are off track to achieve the SDGs,” said U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres. He announced his plan to launch the Food Systems Summit in October 2019, before COVID-19 dramatically slowed progress towards SDGs such as the goal of zero hunger.
World hunger and malnutrition rose last year by around 118 million people to 768 million, with the cause for the increase likely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a U.N. report.