The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2021

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Unicef, World Food Programme (WFP) and World Health Organization (WHO)
Resource type:
Reports and discussion papers

This report presents the global assessment of food insecurity and malnutrition for 2020 and offers some indication of what hunger and malnutrition would look like by 2030, in a scenario further complicated by the enduring effects of the COVID-19. One of the key questions posed in this year’s report is – How did the world get to this critical point? To answer, the report draws on the analyses of the past four editions, which have produced a vast, evidence-based body of knowledge of the major drivers behind the recent changes in food security and nutrition. 

Beginning with an overview of the state of food systems and nutrition, the report explores food security indicators including progress towards ending hunger and ensuring food security, as well as progress towards global nutrition targets. With less than a decade to reach the SDGs target date, the report speaks to what must occur to end hunger and all forms of malnutrition by 2030. 

The report also covers major drivers of recent food security and nutrition trends, highlighting the need to use a food systems lens. In the last ten years, the frequency and intensity of conflict, climate variability and extremes, and economic slowdowns and downturns have increased and are undermining food security and nutrition around the world. 

Another big question the report aims to answer is - What needs to be done to transform food systems for food security, improved nutrition and affordable healthy diets? Six pathways are identified to address major drivers behind recent food security and nutrition trends. The six pathways are:

  • integrating humanitarian, development and peacebuilding policies in conflict-affected areas
  • scaling up climate resilience across food systems
  • strengthening the resilience of the most vulnerable to economic adversity
  • intervening along the food supply chains to lower the cost of nutritious foods
  • tackling poverty and structural inequalities, ensuring interventions are pro-poor and inclusive
  • strengthening food environments and changing consumer behaviour to promote dietary patterns with positive impacts on human health and the environment

Building coherent portfolios of policies and investments is another major key to achieving SDG #2 of Zero Hunger by 2030. Current policy challenges can be overcome through the formulation and implementation of cross-sectoral portfolios of policies, investments and legislation that comprehensively address the negative food security and nutrition effects of the multiple drivers impacting on food systems.

Ultimately, this report shows that economic downturns as a consequence of COVID-19 containment measures all over the world have contributed to one of the largest increases in world hunger in decades, which has affected almost all low- and middle-income countries, and can reverse gains made in nutrition. 

The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2021 is a flagship report for those working in food systems and nutrition, and an important resource for all stakeholders, particularly as we begin to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. 


This resource presents evidence or data but has not been peer reviewed