May 27, 2020
In this new blog post on COVID-19 and sustainable development, we continue to explore some of the SDG targets that need to be taken into account to redesign the post-pandemic world order. (Check out here what we have been saying about the 2030 Agenda and our references to SDG 1).
This time we will focus on targets associated with SDG 2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture.
The first two targets of this objective express countries’ commitments to end hunger and malnutrition, with the particularity of reaching the internationally agreed targets on stunting of children under 5 years, and addressing the needs of nutrition for adolescents, pregnant and lactating women and the elderly “by 2025 at the latest”.
The first fact to consider is that malnutrition in Latin America and the Caribbean decreased during the Millennium Development Goals from 62.6 million people in 2000 to 39.1 million in 2015. However, according to FAO (SPA), since 2014 the number of people in this situation has increased annually to reach 42.5 million in 2018. Meaning that the region was moving in the opposite direction to achieve the target before the pandemic broke out.
Regarding emaciation, the situation in Latin America is better: in 2018, its prevalence was around 7% among the total population, reaching nearly 700 thousand children under the age of 5. Regarding this last data, we highlight the great differences between regions: while in Mesoamerica it affected 0.9% of boys and girls, in the Caribbean it went up to 3%. The Panorama of Food and Nutritional Security in Latin America and the Caribbean, produced by FAO, PAHO / WHO, WFP and UNICEF, states that “stunting is more frequent in countries that, due to their geographical location, are subject to climatic impacts, conflicts or abrupt economic contingencies that usually affect temporarily, but recurrently and periodically, access to food”. Not much analysis is needed to deduce that the measures against COVID-19 will impact these numbers negatively.
Targets 2.3 and 2.4 refer to commitments on improving agricultural productivity and food producers income, as well as the sustainability of food production systems.
Regarding the first topic, there is almost no data on the productivity of small food producers, which only allows us to point out that this is systematically lower in small productions than the average for large productions. Regarding the second indicator, tests are still being carried out to measure results. Lack of data appears here as a major obstacle.
Target 2.5 is one of those that should be met by 2020, and refers to the maintenance of the genetic diversity of seeds, cultivated plants and farm animals. In our region, South America shows that among the varieties for which information exists, 44% are at risk, a lower number considering the other regions for which there is data (84% in Europe and 71% for Southern Africa). There is insufficient information for other regions and subregions.
Target 2.a calls for an increased investment, including an increased of international cooperation, in rural infrastructure, agricultural extension research and services, technological development, and plant and livestock gene banks, in order to improve agricultural production capacity in developing countries, particularly the least developed countries. In our region, the total official flows (disbursements) of cooperation for agriculture received by different countries, in millions of USD, show an unequal distribution that brings more resources to the largest countries, “leaving many behind” .
Source: Own elaboration, 2020
The actions taken by LAC countries to respond to the current pandemic, once the urgent priorities have been overcome, must include a consideration of the possible effects they will have on food production capacities. Including support to productivity and better access to small producers markets, not only implies to respect the commitment to “leave no one behind”, but also to take greater care for the land and ecosystems, thus generating positive cross-impacts on SDG 1 (poverty eradication); 6 (clean water and sanitation); 12 (responsible consumption and production); 13 (climate action) and 15 (life on land).
Some practical measures that could be included among the strategies to overcome the damage caused by COVID-19 in this regard are:
- Implementing food access programs for the most vulnerable (coupons, cards).
- Limiting public food purchases segments to small producers.
- Complementing existing food programs with self-produced goods (small gardens, urban horticulture).
- Financial support programs (subsidies, tax preferences, tax amnesties) for small and medium-sized companies in the food sector.
“An additional 60,254 cases and 2,584 deaths were reported in the past 24 hours, representing a 2% relative increase for cases and deaths respectively, compared to the previous day.“PAHO, May 27, 2020.
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