Food system risks are increasing in most Asia-Pacific countries despite higher production and better access to food, with market instability and slow climate improvements leaving many countries vulnerable to human health and nutrition insecurity, according to a new global index.
The UN’s Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific and the WFP Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific have created the Insights on Food System Risks (INFER) Framework, which is a data-driven approach to measuring multidimensional risks to food systems.
INFER uses 95 risk indicators to produce food system risk scores and profiles, which ESCAP says meets “an urgent need to understand how multidimensional threats manifest into food system risks”. The system utilises an up-to-date understanding of food systems with well-established concepts of risk based on three dimensions. These entail hazard and exposure, vulnerability, and a lack of adaptive capacity.
he index can tell what food systems are at risk, enabling the monitoring of these systems across human health and nutrition, planetary health and sustainability, and shared prosperity, aligning with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
It can do so by providing insights into trends, characteristics and drivers of food system risks – including availability, access, utilisation, stability, agency and sustainability. This analysis makes INFER a useful tool for policymakers, development partners, researchers or stakeholders working in food systems transformation and food security.
Examples of policy support enabled by the tool include strategies for resilience building, in response to nations’ risk profiles, strengthening food system transformation pathways, food system monitoring (including identifying slow onset risks), and improving risk communication and transparency to support policy coherence and cross-sector collaboration.