For some time now, the global development community has known we will not meet the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of “Zero Hunger” by 2030. Last year, in fact, we witnessed a spike in world hunger that was larger than any increase of the past 20 years. Our struggle to achieve the SDGs comes as little surprise, as this September marks a year and a half that the U.S. has battled the COVID-19 pandemic and its sweeping impacts. Today it is estimated that 660 million people worldwide may face hunger in 2030, 30 million more people than if the pandemic had not occurred. Women also face disproportionate risks, with food insecurity being 10 percent higher among women than men in 2020, up from 6 percent in 2019.
Despite the uncertainties, what is clear now is COVID-19’s threat to food security, as it strains supply chains and prevents agricultural activity. We need a long-term approach to economic development that recognizes the role of market actors in responding to periodic shocks and supporting recovery.