The Concept of Food Security as the Global Awareness on Implementing Zero Hunger

Zero Hunger

The Concept of Food Security as the Global Awareness on Implementing Zero Hunger

The concept of food security is evolving by times according to the changes in times and policy thinking. According to the research by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) in the International Decade for Action “Water for Life” 2005-2018, that sustainable agriculture and rural development need to be supported because they can increase food production and reduce poverty, as well as hunger. Their focus is on water resources, where food security and nutrition are the foundation of life, health education, and the achievement of development goals themselves.

Departing from the estimated population spike in 2030 which increases to 8.3 billion and 9.1 billion in 2050. These predictions will certainly affect the amount of food demand, but the main challenge faced is not in the agricultural sector itself, but how to make 70% more food available on the plate.

These agricultural products also move through many hands: farmers; transporters, shopkeepers, food processors, shop owners, and consumers; which will also affect water consumption as population and product demand increase. For example, a spike in food prices in 2008 was able to push 110 million people into poverty and add 44 million people to malnutrition, then 925 million people starve because they can’t afford food. Especially in developing countries, rising food prices greatly affect people’s lives because they spend around 50-80% of their income to meet food needs.

Food Security as A Concept

The concept of food security is not a new concept. Based on the ethical and human rights dimensions, it was recognized in the 1948 United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. The 1974 World Food Conference also defined food security as “the availability at all times of an adequate world food supply of staple foodstuffs to maintain a stable expansion of food consumption and to compensate for fluctuations in production and prices”. This means that it is a concept that ensures food availability and price stability.

This concept continues to evolve according to changes and policy thinking, ranging from definitions based on physical and economic access to food (FAO 1983) to differences in food insecurity as seen from the problems of structural or sustainable poverty and temporary food insecurity, as well as the effect of personal rights on food access (production, labor, trade, and resource-based transfer). Then in 1996, the World Food Summit redefined multidimensional food security which includes access, availability, use and stability of food.

“Food security as existing when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet dietary needs for a productive and healthy life.”

The World Food Summit of 1996.

Meanwhile, the analysis of food insecurity itself is seen by drawing the relationship between food security, hunger and crop failure as social and political constructions. The right to food was officially adopted in 1996 as the right to adequate food. Today, more than 40 countries have the right to food, and it is estimated that around 54 countries can be prosecuted.

In 2015, the commitment of UN member states was seen in agenda number 2 “Zero Hunger” in the Sustainable Development Goals to look at the food problem in terms of ensuring access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food for all throughout the year, including efforts to reduce nutritional problems because, basically, food security and nutrition are closely related. Food insecurity can affect the quality or nutrition consumed, which in turn will lead to malnutrition or obesity.

The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2020 report by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) states that the world is not on the right track to achieve Zero Hunger in 2030 because of other scenarios that cannot be predicted or occur suddenly like the COVID-19 pandemic. It is hoped that a recovery in hunger levels will occur in 2021, but this prediction was previously made without a pandemic scenario.

Food Security: Number of undernourished in the world, 2005-2019
Number of undernourished in the world, no revision for China
Source: FAO
Food Security: Number of undernourished people in the world, 2005-2019
Number of undernourished people in the world, 2005-2019
Source: FAO

It can be seen on the table that hunger has increased in recent years. Some of the reasons include a weak, stagnant or deteriorating economics, especially since the 2008-2009 financial crises which had a significant impact on multi-lane hunger. The rest is due to the level of dependence on export and import commodities which makes some countries or regions more vulnerable to external shocks. The prevalence of hunger is experienced more rapidly in developing countries with rapid population growth rates accompanied by inadequate access to health and education services. This is evidence of the close relationship between food security, nutrition, and health which in turn is influenced and affects economic growth and development.

However, there is still hope in realizing Zero Hunger even though it has been stated that the world is not on the path to Zero Hunger, but if relevant stakeholders at all levels, from subnational to global with consistent action and high urgency, then there is a possibility that the world will start entering the proper path to Zero Hunger.

Read also: 5 Things You Should Know to Prevent Getting Stunting!


FAO. “Food Security”. Policy Brief. Issue 2. June 2006.

The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2020

Water and Food Security, International Decade for Action ‘Water for Life’ 2005-2015

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