Food in times of pandemic: realism without magic in Latin America and the Caribbean

2 June 2020. Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) is one of the main contributors to world food security and global ecosystem services, including CO2 sequestration and biodiversity. However, the region is also suffering from environmental degradation, particularly through high deforestation rates. Furthermore, LAC is the developing region with the highest economic inequality, and while malnutrition has decreased significantly, overweight and obesity have increased at higher rates than in other middle-income regions.

Amidst this complex situation, the region is experiencing one of the most worrying outbreaks of COVID-19 globally. With rising unemployment, poverty this year could reach nearly 220 million people, with extreme poverty affecting more than 90 million. Governments have reacted with a variety of health, social and economic policies. However, the current pandemic is having a major negative impact on the region, with significant potential negative externalities for the rest of the world.

IFPRI is working to help the population and governments of the region to (1) design and implement better policies, investments and institutional arrangements to overcome the pandemic in the immediate term; and (2) facilitate the necessary transformation of the region’s food systems to make them efficient and profitable, inclusive and fair, environmentally sustainable and generators of nutritious and healthy diets.

This seminar is part of the dialogue and reflection promoted by IFPRI and the network of institutions with which it works in the region. Topics to be discussed included estimates of the impacts on poverty and food security, the response from a national government, the opinion of international development institutions and the private sector, and reflections on future research, technology and innovation.

  • Moderator Eugenio Díaz-Bonilla, Head, IFPRI Latin America and Caribbean Program
  • Ruben Echeverría, President of the Commission on Sustainable Agricultural Intensification, Director General Emeritus of CIAT, and Senior Research Fellow of IFPRI (Presentation)
  • Christian Gómez, Director of Global Government Affairs for Latin America, WALMART
  • Pedro Martel, IDB, Head of the Environment, Rural Development and Disaster Risk Management Division (Presentation)
  • Valeria Piñeiro, Senior Research Coordinator, IFPRI (Presentation)
  • Carolina Trivelli, Senior Researcher at the Institute of Peruvian Studies and former Minister of Social Development (Presentation)
  • Facilitator: Flor Paz, Research Analyst, IFPRI

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