World Food Day: Food for thought to build back better


Food is the essence of life and yet it is something that we may take for granted. The COVID-19 global health crisis has made us rethink the things we truly cherish and our most basic needs. One of these is food. Preserving access to safe and nutritious food is an essential part of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, especially for poor and vulnerable communities, hit hardest by the pandemic. The EU is committed to tackle global hunger and contribute to the accomplishment of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 2: ZERO HUNGER

World Food Day seeks to promote worldwide awareness and action for those who suffer from hunger and for the need to ensure food security and nutritious diets for all.

The Global report on food crisis (GRFC 2020) reported the highest global number of acutely food insecure people on record. It revealed that in 2019, some 135 million in 55 countries and territories were in need of urgent food, livelihood and nutrition assistance as a result of conflict, weather extremes, economic shocks, or a combination of all three drivers. This figure reflected worsening levels of acute food insecurity in many countries.

In these 55 food crisis countries and territories, an estimated 75 million children were stunted and 17 million were suffering from acute wasting. Food insecurity and limited access to well functioning health, WASH and social protection systems increase the risk of malnutrition for the most vulnerable.

As countries begin to develop and implement COVID-19 recovery plans, it is an opportunity to adopt innovative solutions based on scientific evidence so they can build back better and improve food systems, making them more resistant to such shocks.

This year World Food Day calls for global solidarity to help all populations, and especially the most vulnerable, to recover from the crisis, and to make food systems more resilient and robust so they can withstand increasing volatility and climate shocks, deliver affordable and sustainable healthy diets for all, and decent livelihoods for food system workers. This will require:

  • improved social protection schemes and new opportunities offered through digitalization and e-commerce. Digital technologies are key to transforming the way food is produced, processed, traded and consumed and building more resilient and robust food systems. This may be a distant reality for over 3 billion people in the world who lack access to internet, most of whom live in rural and remote areas. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN is ready to support countries as they identify partnerships to make this a reality, including investment opportunities from the private sector, and can offer advice on how better regulation and adequate training can pave the way to a digital future for food and agriculture.
  • sustainable agricultural practices that preserve the Earth’s natural resources, our health, and the climate. At the heart of the European Green Deal is the Farm to Fork Strategy aimed to make food systems fair, healthy and environmentally-friendly. Food systems cannot be resilient to crises such as the Covid-19 pandemic if they are not sustainable. Putting our food systems on a sustainable path brings new opportunities for operators in the food value chain. New technologies and scientific discoveries, combined with increasing public awareness and demand for sustainable food, will benefit all stakeholders. The Farm to Fork Strategy aims to accelerate our transition to a sustainable food system.


World Food Day comes exactly one week after the UN’s World Food Programme won the Nobel Prize on 9 October.

The World Food Programme's long experience in humanitarian and development contexts has positioned the organization well to support resilience building in order to improve food security and nutrition. The programme helps the most vulnerable people strengthen their capacities to absorb, adapt, and transform in the face of crisis such as conflict, natural hazards and political instability that can have a devastating impact. For example, children who are malnourished in their first 1,000 days of life may suffer cognitive and physical impairment.

“Every one of the 690 million hungry people in the world today has the right to live peacefully and without hunger,” said World Food Programme’s Executive Director David Beasley, in a statement upon winning the award. “Today, the Norwegian Nobel Committee has turned the global spotlight on them and on the devastating consequences of conflict.”

Beasley also paid tribute to World Food Programme staff. “They’re out there in the most difficult, complex places in the world, whether there’s war, conflict, climate extremes, it doesn’t matter,” he said. “They’re out there, and they deserve this award.”

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