Global Food Policy Report 2020: Inclusive food systems can help build resilience to withstand pandemics and other shocks

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As the world battles the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and the social and economic disruption it is generating, concern about the impact it will have on food systems is growing. While it is still too early to know the extent of the effects the pandemic will have on food insecurity or poverty, we can be sure that the poor and vulnerable people are likely to suffer the most.

Smallholders and rural dwellers, women and youth, and conflict-affected people already are too often excluded from full participation in food systems, leaving many of them with little access to nutritious diets and limited income opportunities. With many countries closing borders and shuttering entire sectors of their economies to slow the spread of COVID-19 the livelihoods of these people are at even greater risk. Safeguarding the livelihoods of these and other vulnerable people requires making our food systems more inclusive, so that everyone can both participate in and benefit from the opportunities they present.

But making food systems inclusive is not just a moral imperative. In prosperous times the exclusion of vulnerable people is a massive lost opportunity for development that leaves millions of people behind to the detriment of all. But in times of crisis, like we are experiencing today, inclusivity can be a matter of life or death. Bringing excluded individuals into food systems will grow and strengthen them so that they serve everyone better and can help people withstand shocks like pandemics, civil conflict, and volatile weather.

Fortunately, food systems can be made more inclusive with well-crafted policies that lower the barriers to participation. As indicated in this year’s Global Food Policy Report launching April 7, we can build truly inclusive food systems that will protect and empower the world’s most vulnerable by focusing on three key areas…

Photo credit: Sven Torfinn/Panos Pictures

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