As part of its series of briefs on food systems, the Global Panel’s new brief, Rethinking trade policies to support sustainable food systems and healthy diets, shows that there are clear benefits to aligning trade policies with the goal of providing healthy and sustainable diets for all. The brief aims to help policymakers address the key issues to take into consideration when choosing trade policies. It shows why policymakers who are committed to improving diets and nutrition should pay more attention to the value of trade instruments as part of their portfolio of actions.

The primary focus is on cross-border flows of food and agricultural commodities, exploring the effects that trade can have on the supply and affordability of nutrient-rich foods. It also considers how trends in global trade affect diets, greenhouse gas emissions and the natural environment upon which food systems depend.

The brief provides a series of policy actions and opportunities for leveraging trade to improve diets with the following top-line messages:

  • Close attention should be paid to trade policies that influence the relative price of foods within domestic markets.
  • High priority should be given to trade policies that specifically help to increase the availability and to reduce the price of nutrient-rich foods.
  • Policymakers should be alert to the effects of trade policies on the availability and pricing of imports of ultra-processed foods.
  • Policymakers should pay close attention to trade agreements which embody strong investor protections, as they can be problematic.
  • Food trade can be especially beneficial in managing price volatility and climate change risks.

Malnutrition, in all its forms, is often driven by the poor quality of diets in early childhood. Globally, 2 in 3 children are not fed the diets they need to support children’s rapid growth and brain development. While most children are still breastfeeding, the complementary foods they are fed often miss nutritious foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and foods of animal origin such as eggs, fish, dairy or meat. Furthermore, the consumption of nutrient-poor snack foods and beverages is on the rise in young children.

Good diets for young children are driven by good foods, good practices and good services. This guidance highlights the determinants and drivers of poor diets in young children, describes the most recent evidence on improving complementary foods and feeding, and presents action frameworks to improve young children’s diets using a systems approach, supporting global efforts to improve young children’s diets, in all contexts.

The Mediterranean diet is not only healthy for humans, but also for the environment and for biodiversity. This was the main message at an event held today at FAO headquarters with the aim of raising awareness on how the Mediterranean diet can help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

Progress for both SDG 2 and SDG 6 has been unsatisfactory, with several indicators worsening over time, including an increase in the number of undernourished, overweight and obese people, as well as rapid increases in the number of people at risk of severe water shortages. This lack of progress is exacerbated by climate change and growing regional and global inequities in food and water security, including access to good quality diets, leading to increased violation of the human rights to water and food. Reversing these trends will require a much greater effort on the part of water, food security, and nutrition communities, including stronger performances by the United Nations Decade of Action on Nutrition and the United Nations International Decade for Action on Water for Sustainable Development

The UNSCN Discussion Paper Water and Nutrition. Harmonizing Actions for the United Nations Decade of Action on Nutrition and the United Nations Water Action Decade analyzes the complex web of pathways that link water, food security and nutrition outcomes. Climate change and the growing demand for water resources are also considered, given their central role in shaping future water and nutrition security. It calls for increased and systematic collaboration between the nutrition and water sectors and actors, to be able to reach both the water and nutrition targets and the 2030 Agenda.

The path to reducing unacceptable hunger levels “lies in our ability to transform the agricultural sector”, FAO Director-General QU Dongyu said today at at “Targeting Hunger: South-South and Triangular cooperation for Transforming Agriculture”, an interactive dialogue held at the United Nations headquarters.
FAO Director-General QU Dongyu said today greater and faster action was needed to prevent a humanitarian crisis in East Africa as the Desert Locust upsurge was now affecting seven countries and threatened to spread even further.
Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals is a “team effort”, FAO Director-General QU Dongyu said today as he welcomed the 43rd Governing Council of the International Fund for Agricultural Development.
Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals is a “team effort”, FAO Director-General QU Dongyu said today as he welcomed the 43rd Governing Council of the International Fund for Agricultural Development.
FAO Director-General QU Dongyu today highlighted pulses’ crucial role in addressing food insecurity and achieving healthy and balanced diets for all. He made the remarks at a special ceremony at FAO Headquarters in Rome, in which FAO observed World Pulses Day.
China’s Development Plan for Digital Agriculture and Rural Areas (2019-2025) has bene made available on FAO’s e-agriculture website, in English and Chinese.