UN report calls for better data governance for food security

September 19, 2022 — The way data is used for food security and nutrition needs to be rethought. That’s the claim of a new UN report calling for improvements.

Recognizing the data revolution and all its implications is necessary to effectively use data to transform food systems and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

The report analyzes the challenges and opportunities to take full advantage of the data revolution and makes recommendations for policy makers and decision-makers.

Create sustainable food systems
It indicates that data systems and digital technologies can be powerful tools that greatly help policy makers in short, medium and long term decision making for sustainable food systems.

The High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition (HLPE-FSN) of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) has launched its flagship report titled “Data Collection and Analysis Tools for Food Security and nutrition: towards -informed decision-making.

Bernard Lehmann, chair of the HLPE-FSN, said there was an urgent need to agree on the nature of food security and nutrition data and information as a public good.

“High-quality data and its accurate and timely analysis are essential for decision-making in food security and nutrition. While an abundance of food data can provide great opportunities to transform food systems, it can also create new risks and deepen inequalities,” says Lehmann.

While many may live in places where data and information are flowing with unprecedented mass and speed, many countries still lack sustainable data systems and related capabilities.While many may live in places where data and information are flowing with unprecedented mass and speed, many countries still lack sustainable data systems and related capabilities.

Therefore, the report calls for rethinking data collection and analysis tools to ensure full and appropriate use and reuse of existing data. It also recommends investing in capacity development at all levels, starting with primary and secondary education, to include statistics and data science early in public education curricula, and to continue through the specialized training of professionals working in public and private institutions.

FAO Director-General QU Dongyu welcomes the report, saying the resulting recommendations will be an essential contribution to the global effort to fight hunger and malnutrition.

“Good decisions are based on factual information. We need to close the quality data gap because it is essential to track progress and understand where the world stands in achieving our collective Sustainable Development Goals.

Data gaps
The report provides many good practice examples of food security and nutrition data collection and analysis initiatives that could be further improved and used in the development of similar initiatives.

The review also identifies the most critical remaining data gaps, such as, for example, data on characteristics of farms, agricultural holdings and other industries; information on household food expenditure; and, importantly, data on individual access to food and dietary intakes.

The report presents clear calls to action and a list of detailed recommendations on better using data to effectively guide strategic policymaking in agriculture, food security and nutrition.

This includes;

  • – Greater demand for data for decision-making among governments, policy makers and donors.
  • – Optimize and redirect current data-related investments while strengthening collaboration between international organizations, governments, civil society, academia and the private sector to harmonize and maximize the sharing of existing data on food security and nutrition.
  • – Increase and maintain investments in the collection of essential data on food security and nutrition.
  • – Invest in the human capital and infrastructure needed to ensure the sustainability of data processing and the sustainability of analytical capabilities.
  • – Improve data governance at all levels, promote inclusiveness to recognize and strengthen agency among data users and data generators.

Edited by Gaynor Selby

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