Goal 2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture

Goal 2 seeks sustainable solutions to end hunger in all its forms by 2030 and to achieve food security. The aim is to ensure that everyone everywhere has enough good-quality food to lead a healthy life. Achieving this Goal will require better access to food and the widespread promotion of sustainable agriculture. This entails improving the productivity and incomes of small-scale farmers by promoting equal access to land, technology and markets, sustainable food production systems and resilient agricultural practices. It also requires increased investments through international cooperation to bolster the productive capacity of agriculture in developing countries.

Despite progress, more than 790 million people worldwide still suffer from hunger

The fight against hunger has seen some progress over the past 15 years. Globally, the proportion of undernourished people declined from 15 per cent in 2000-2002 to 11 per cent in 2014-2016. However, more than 790 million people still lack regular access to adequate food. If current trends continue, the zero hunger target will be largely missed by 2030. The persistence of hunger is no longer a matter of food availability. Rather, in many countries that failed to reach the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) hunger target, natural and human-induced disasters or political instability have resulted in food insecurity affecting large swathes of the population. Preliminary estimates from the Food Insecurity Experience Scale—available for about 150 countries in 2014 and 2015—reveal that food insecurity is most prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa. More than half of the adult population in that region faced moderate or severe levels of food insecurity, and one-quarter faced severe levels. Southern Asia had the second highest prevalence: around 25 per cent of adults there experienced moderate or severe food insecurity, and 12 per cent experienced severe levels.

Number and proportion of undernourished people, 2000−2002 and 2014−2016 (millions and percentage)
Note: Vertical position of the bubbles represents the percentage of the population that is undernourished. The size of the bubbles represents the number of undernourished people. The proportion of undernourished people is less than 5 per cent for Northern Africa and Developed regions for both time periods.

Chronic undernutrition, or stunted growth, still affects one in four children under age 5

In 2014, an estimated 158.6 million children under age 5 were affected by stunting, a chronic form of undernutrition defined as inadequate height for age. Chronic undernutrition puts children at greater risk of dying from common infections, increases the frequency and severity of infections, and contributes to delayed recovery. It is also associated with impaired cognitive ability and reduced school and work performance. Globally, the proportion of stunted children has fallen in all regions except Oceania. Southern Asia made the most progress between 2000 and 2014, but the region is still home to the largest number of stunted children in the world — 63.9 million. In sub-­Saharan Africa, population growth outpaced progress: the number of stunted children increased from an estimated 50.1 million in 2000 to 57.3 million in 2014. Together, Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa accounted for three quarters of children under 5 affected by stunting in 2014.

Proportion of children under age five with stunted growth, 2000 and 2014 (percentage)
Note: The population coverage for developed regions is less than 50 per cent for all periods between 2000 and 2014.

The number of overweight children under age 5 has increased to 41 million

Worldwide, the proportion of children under age 5 who are overweight increased from 5 per cent in 2000 to 6 per cent in 2014. Overweight is a growing problem affecting nearly every region. Northern Africa has the highest prevalence of overweight children under 5 (16 per cent), followed by the Caucasus and Central Asia (12 per cent). Globally, 41 million children in this age group are overweight; almost half of them live in Asia and one quarter live in Africa.

Proportion of children under 5 years who are overweight, 2000 and 2014 (percentage)
Note: The population coverage for developed regions is less than 50 per cent for all periods between 2000 and 2014.

Agriculture’s share of government expenditures increasingly lags behind its economic contribution

The productive capacity of agriculture depends on investments from public and private, domestic and foreign sources. Recent trends in government spending have not been favourable. The agriculture orientation index (AOI) — the agriculture share of government expenditures divided by the agriculture share of GDP —fell from 0.37 to 0.33 between 2001 and 2013 in developing countries. The decline was interrupted only during the food price crisis of 2006 to 2008, when governments boosted agricultural spending. Since the late 1990s, aid to agriculture in developing countries has languished at around 8 per cent of the total, down from a high of 20 per cent in the mid-1980s, when donors began focusing more on improving governance, building social capital and bolstering fragile States.

Agriculture share of government expenditure, agriculture share of GDP (percentage) and agriculture orientation index (AOI) for the world, developing and developed regions, 2001−2013
  • Agriculture share of GDP (left axis)
  • Agriculture share of government expenditures (left axis)
  • Agriculture orientation index (right axis)