“The report paints a grim picture. Four years into the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, regression is the norm when it comes to ending hunger and rendering agriculture and the management of natural resources – be that on land or in our oceans – sustainable,” said Pietro Gennari, FAO Chief Statistician.
“Being off-track when it comes to reaching core pillars of the SDGs unquestionably puts at risk the achievement of the entire 2030 Agenda, and makes our overarching goal of ensuring an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable future for our planet and for present and future generations less attainable,” said FAO Deputy Director-General for Climate and Natural Resources Maria Helena Semedo.
In the first report of its kind, FAO analysed, in a visual way, major global trends and data from up to 234 countries and territories on 18 indicators of four SDGs (2, 6, 14 and 15) under the UN agency’s custodianship.
The report puts forward a number of recommendations aimed at reversing these worsening trends.
- First, many of the problems mentioned above would probably be less acute if there was sufficient investment in the agricultural sector (including fishery and forestry). However, the report finds that public expenditure in agriculture has been declining with respect to its contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In particular, the Sub-Saharan African region and Oceania (excluding Australia and New Zealand) registered the lowest relative values of public investment in agriculture.
- Promoting productivity growth and strengthening the resilience and adaptive capacity of small-scale food producers is also critical to reversing the trend of rising hunger and reducing the number of people living in extreme poverty, the report stresses.
- Price anomalies contributed to undermining people’s access to food and nutritional status in many developing countries. These could be addressed by improving information on prices and on food supply and demand of basic food stuffs, allowing markets to function more efficiently.
- Improvements in water productivity and irrigation in agriculture and reduced losses in municipal distribution networks, industrial and energy cooling processes are among the main issues to be tackled when it comes to water stress.
- Finally, all countries need to urgently implement transformational changes in fishery management and governance. This would also have a positive economic impact: overall, rebuilding overfished stocks could increase annual fishery production by 16.5 million tonnes and annual revenues from fishing by $32 billion.