As the world faces multiple crises dominated by new conflicts, the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, economic shocks, and growing inequalities, development has been halted or even reversed across several domains, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO).

“While the world was already off track from meeting the SDGs even prior to 2020, the last two years have seen a series of economic, political, and environmental crises that have resulted in a reversal of progress along several economic and social dimensions, including food security and agricultural productivity,” said FAO Chief Statistician, Pietro Gennari. “Additional challenges – armed conflicts and the unfolding war in Ukraine, rising inflation, growing inequalities, and increased frequency and severity of extreme weather events – are compounding the socioeconomic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, putting the SDGs at risk,” he added.

The report titled, ‘Tracking Progress on Food and Agriculture-related SDG Indicators 2022,’ was launched in the margins of the 77th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA). It offers detailed analyses and trends on selected indicators for which FAO is a custodian or contributing agency or which have key implications for food and agriculture across eight SDGs: 1 (no poverty), 2 (zero hunger), 5 (gender equality), 6 (clean water and sanitation), 10 (reduced inequalities), 12 (responsible consumption and production), 14 (life below water), and 15 (life on land). The report highlights areas of progress and areas where further effort is needed. The report is FAO’s fourth assessment of this kind, based on the latest data and estimates available.

Echoing the UN Secretary-General António Guterres’s call for “an urgent rescue effort for the SDGs,” the report identifies areas that require urgent actions to put the world back on track to reach the SDGs related to food and agriculture. It emphasizes the need for national governments and the international community to: build a more resilient agricultural sector; prevent the increase in world hunger and improve the productivity of small-scale farmers; preserve the diversity of plant and animal genetic resources; and bolster the resilience of food systems.

Furthermore, the report calls for collective action to: save water and increase water-use efficiency in the regions most affected by high water stress; facilitate international trade of agricultural products through the redesign and implementation of non-tariff measures; formulate policies that are geared specifically towards the reduction of food losses; support small-scale fishery communities and ensure the sustainable management of oceans; protect terrestrial ecosystems, including by maintaining momentum in halting deforestation and forest degradation; and restoring damaged ecosystems.