Using the Global Food Security Index to Track SDG Progress

The United Nations’ (UN) 2017 High-level Political Forum on sustainable development meets this week and next in New York to review the progress towards meeting the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The over-arching objective of the SDGs is for countries to collaborate with businesses, NGOs, and other stakeholders to improve the lives of people around the world and the sustainability of our planet by 2030.

The SDGs uniquely recognize that ending poverty must be supported with strategies that build economic growth and addresses a range of social needs, including food security, education, health, social protection, and job opportunities, while tackling climate change and protecting the environment.

While individual countries have the primary responsibility for follow-up and assessing progress made in implementing the goals, alternative metrics and data sets can be useful for assessing progress towards the SDGs and can provide a deeper understanding into the inputs and drivers of each of the goals.  The Global Food Security Index (GFSI), developed by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) and sponsored by DuPont, can provide insight into progress across many of the SDGs. The GFSI measures the availability, affordability, and the quality and safety of food systems in 113 countries, using 18 different factors such as agriculture import tariffs, production volatility, and public expenditure on agricultural R&D. The GFSI is updated each year and users can identify each of the 113 countries’ current strengths and weaknesses and see how a country is improving its food security.

The chart below shows how the different GFSI indicators can be mapped to the corresponding SDGs.

SDG 2 calls for ending hunger, achieving food security, improving nutrition, and promoting sustainable agriculture. The GFSI defines food security as the state in which people always have physical, social, and economic access to sufficient and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs for a healthy and active life. As such, the GFSI creates a roadmap for action that allows stakeholders to measure how food system are currently meeting the need for safe, nutritious, and sufficient food.


The chart above includes metrics used by the UN (blue) and the GFSI (black) to assess progress towards ending hunger. In addition to the metrics above, the GFSI shows that political stability risk in Ghana decreased between 2012 and 2016. Diet diversity and access to high-quality protein, on the other hand, increased slightly, indicating the consumption of more non-starchy foods in the average diet.

New Category for the GFSI

The 2017 edition of the GFSI, which will be released in late September, will include a new Natural Resources & Resilience category that assesses factors such as risks to natural resources and climate adaptation. With this new addition, the GFSI will provide additional avenues to track progress toward the climate and natural-resource related SDGs and allow users to tie these issues back to the broader issues of hunger and poverty.

This entry was posted on Agriculture, Food Safety, Food Security, Sustainability, Global Food Security Index, SDG, UN Sustainability Goals,

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