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New AI-led analysis released today reveals the number of people facing food insecurity could jump to 1.9 billion – up nearly 300 million – by the end of the year.

The findings in the Eurasia Group and DevryBV Sustainable Strategies report are largely premised on a ‘prolonged stalemate’ scenario in the Ukraine war, as well as the underlying imbalances caused by the effects of climate change and other longstanding pressures.

What UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has called an impending ‘hunger hurricane’ will “hit a global food system that stands on very shaky foundations” the report says. And even in a ceasefire scenario, Gro Intelligence, the AI company whose platform analysis underpins the paper, predicts the risk would “decline only modestly over the next five months”.

Innovation

Immediate and coordinated action is needed at a policy level, with the report calling for a “concerted effort to keep food trade open despite sanctions and other wartime considerations” along with “targeted support for smallholder farmers” and fair “access to existing stocks” among a range of actions it says can reduce the scale of human suffering.

Investing in innovation will also be critical, not just to fight the current threats but to build longer-term resilience into food systems.

“Over the next 10 years, investing in innovation could end hunger, significantly cut global emissions and generate more than $1 trillion in economic returns,” a white paper released last year by the World Economic Forum and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. 

And targeting changes that look beyond the immediate crisis will be needed to reverse the increase in the numbers of people facing starvation and severe malnutrition.

“We must not lose sight of the need to address the long-term, systematic inequities that have made this crisis so dangerous for so many low-income countries,” Gargee Ghosh, President, Global Policy & Advocacy, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation says in the Eurasia Group report. “It is imperative to improve resilience to such shocks by increasing investment in long- term agricultural development and nutritious food systems, especially in the poorest and most vulnerable nations.”

We need a food revolution

Writing in the Guardian newspaper George Monbiot warns “the global food system is beginning to look like the global financial system in the run-up to 2008”.

Exploring ways to avert such a disaster will be the focus of a free online RSA event this Thursday (26 May): Feeding the world, saving the planet – when the Guardian journalist and author will discuss the “people and initiatives already paving the way towards a new era in food – from perennial grain crops to innovators uncovering new ways to grow proteins”.

Sign up for the event, on between 1pm to 2pm BST, to learn more about some of the transformative actions that could help pull the world back from the brink of food system collapse.

The post How we can avoid the worst impacts of the ‘hunger hurricane’ first appeared on Innovators magazine.