Although the COVID-19 pandemic could push nearly 50 million more people into extreme poverty, this and other dire impacts of the crisis can be avoided if countries act immediately to shore up global food security, said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
“Unless immediate action is taken, it is increasingly clear that there is an impending global food emergency that could have long term impacts on hundreds of millions of children and adults”, he said, in a video message.
According to him, even in countries with abundant food, COVID-19 risks disrupting food supply chains.
“Our food systems are failing, and the COVID-19 pandemic is making things worse,” he said.
According to him, countries should designate food and nutrition services as fundamental, and also implementing protections for those who work in the sector.
“It means preserving critical humanitarian food, livelihood and nutrition assistance to vulnerable groups”, the Secretary-General noted adding “and it means positioning food in food-crisis countries to reinforce and scale up social protection systems.”
“Countries need to safeguard access to safe, nutritious foods, particularly for young children, pregnant and breastfeeding women, older people and other at-risk groups. And they need to adapt and expand social protection schemes to benefit nutritionally at-risk groups”, the Secretary-General noted.
“We cannot forget that food systems contribute up to 29 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions, including 44 per cent of methane, and are having a negative impact on biodiversity.”