The world was already off track to meet the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 and the COVID-19 pandemic has made it even harder both to achieve the Goals and to monitor progress where it is being made, according to a new report released by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
“We need better data to better understand the path we need to take to get to our destination,” said FAO Chief Economist Maximo Torero. “Knowing more about where we are and how slowly or quickly we are moving will help us focus our efforts and actions to target interventions to achieve SDGs.”
The unprecedented global health crisis, with associated economic and social impacts, is “making the achievement of these SDG targets even more challenging,” according to the report, “Tracking progress on food and agriculture-related SDG indicators 2020”.
Hunger, as well as other forms of food insecurity, are rising, and the pandemic has disrupted longer-term practices from conserving genetic resources as well as immediate operations such as national agricultural censuses, which are key both to identifying immediate needs and nudging the world’s farmers to more sustainable practices. These censuses have been delayed, postponed, or suspended in more than half of the 150 countries canvassed. Around one in four countries say that COVID-19 has disrupted national statistical agencies, with “nearly all” key data collection being adversely affected and vastly complicating FAO’s work as the custodian agency for 21 SDG indicators and a contributing agency to another five.
The report assesses current trends, finding many stagnating – including the hunger benchmark known as Prevalence of Undernourishment used to track SDG target 2.1 – or even deteriorating – such as the broader Food Insecurity Experience Scale used for the same target. Many of the indicators, particularly for measuring smallholder labor productivity and incomes with the aim of doubling them by 2030, suffer from inadequate data to assess both current status and progress.
“Members can rely on FAO to help work through the often very substantial methodological complexity and pursue harmonized and comparable results that will enable the necessary acceleration of efforts to achieve the SDGs, as we enter the crucial Decade of Action culminating in 2030,” said Pietro Gennari, FAO’s chief statistician. “And while the general assessment is concerning, it’s also important to note positive trends, such as improved water use efficiency in Southern Asia, increases in plant genetic resource conservation efforts in Northern Africa, progress towards sustainable forest management, and some improvement in the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing .”
Read the report: Tracking progress on food and agriculture-related SDG indicators 2020.
Original source: FAO