World food day 2018: the state of global food security and implications for rural Australia

Global environmental change Agriculture Food industry and trade Food security Australia

A recent report published by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), indicates that, after a long period of decline, world hunger is on the rise again, for the third consecutive year. The number of people facing chronic food deprivation has increased from 804 million in 2016, to approximately 821 million in 2017, numbers that the FAO notes are similar to those from a decade ago. Food security has declined alarmingly in much of Africa and South America, while decreases in rates of undernourishment appear to have stalled in Asia.

The FAO broadly attributes the increasing trend towards food insecurity to climate-related changes, adverse economic conditions and conflict. The report was undertaken within the framework of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a series of 17 targets that aim to improve social and economic development between 2015 and 2030. Each of these goals has some relationship to food security; they include goals to ‘End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture.’

Key points:

  • Climate change has put food security in peril, by causing an increase in dry conditions along with more frequent and intense natural disasters.
  • While nutrition has generally improved, those improvements are unevenly distributed by region, but certain nutritional markers, such as anaemia, have worsened.
  • Conflict has been a significant driver of the increase in global food insecurity.
  • To promote better food security in rural and remote areas, Australia needs to do more to address income inequality and climate change adaptation.


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