Abstract: Fan


Feeding The 9 Billion, Well

26-28 August 2014



Conference home


Economics of food insecurity and malnutrition

Shenggen Fan
Director General, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

Despite significant progress achieved in the last two decades, global food insecurity or hunger and malnutrition remain big challenges. Nearly 850 million people in the world continue to suffer from chronic hunger and more than 2 billion people suffer from micronutrient deficiencies. Moreover, overweight and obesity are on the rise in low-and middle-income countries.

Hunger and malnutrition impose huge economic and social costs which can be felt at individual, household, and societal levels. For example, hunger and undernutrition cost the global economy US$1.4–2.1 trillion per year, or 2–3 percent of global GDP, according to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO). The economic returns to eliminating hunger and malnutrition can also be very high.

Evidence from IFPRI-led research demonstrates that there are substantial, lifetime economic benefits from reducing child undernutrition. In India, for example, every dollar spent on

interventions to reduce stunting, is estimated to generate about US$34 in economic returns. This presentation will make the economic case for investing in the elimination of global hunger and malnutrition. The presentation will also focus on the inefficiencies of policies and practices that add to the burden of hunger and malnutrition, such as underinvestment in food security and nutrition; lack of social safety nets to protect the poorest, unsustainable natural resource use in food production; gender inequality in agriculture, and trade restrictions. The critical role of Australia in promoting the elimination of hunger and malnutrition, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region, will also be discussed.