SDG 2 – zero hunger, and EU action against hunger and malnutrition

Briefing 26-01-2022

At least one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set by the United Nations (UN) will be missed in 2030 – SDG 2 – 'zero hunger' – also endangering the accomplishment of the rest of the SDG goals under Agenda 2030. Hunger and malnutrition are rising dramatically across the world, a trend aggravated by the pandemic. In 2020, 811 million people in the world were facing hunger, the highest level since 2014, and 3 billion people were without access to a healthy diet. The fight against hunger and malnutrition has been the focus of two global summits, namely the UN Food Systems Summit (September 2021), which committed to a deep reform of global food systems, and the Nutrition for Growth Summit (December 2021), which saw the biggest pledge since 2013. In the EU itself, considered one of the most food-secure regions in the world, nearly 7 million people were already experiencing severe food insecurity before the pandemic, and malnutrition is on the rise, as demonstrated by obesity and pre-obesity prevalence rates. SDG 2 aims not only at achieving food security but also at improving nutrition and promoting sustainable agriculture. These objectives have been mainstreamed in the recently reformed common agricultural policy and the 'farm to fork' and biodiversity strategies. In developing countries, the EU is strongly committed to achieving SDG 2. The EU institutions and Member States, which collectively provide more than half of official development assistance worldwide, have reaffirmed this commitment in the new European 'consensus on development'. Alongside development aid, the EU has several levers at its disposal to act on food insecurity causes, such as security and defence missions and comprehensive strategies in conflict areas, as well as substantial research capacities. The fact that its internal policies, in particular agricultural, climate and trade policies, have a spill-over effect on other food systems in the world, in particular in poorer countries, also make the EU a significant player.