This year the rise in food prices caused by poor harvests, extreme weather events, and supply chain bottlenecks has been additionally affected by the outbreak of the war in Ukraine: countries in the broader Mediterranean region, which massively depend on wheat imports from the Black Sea, are at the forefront of risk of shortages, casting a shadow on the resilience of the region’s food systems. Although in recent months prices started to decline, the region is now facing the consequences of the third global food price crisis in 15 years, on the background of a quite deteriorated situation: in the Middle East and North Africa, the number of undernourished people reached 45.8 million in 2021; in the Sahel, unprecedented numbers of food insecure people are projected for the coming months, as the region is experiencing the third consecutive year of a major food and nutrition crisis. Disruptions in the global trade of food risks to become more and more common in the years to come, with the threat of global warming looming large.
Today, decreasing food import dependence and building sustainable food systems is a priority for local governments, regional cooperation, and international development assistance. Increasing local production while investing on the resilience of national and regional supply chains could alleviate the threat of food insecurity. Leveraging on innovation, boosting investments on agri-tech solutions as well as improving the management of land, water and natural resources could increase the sustainability of the agriculture sector. Additionally, reforming subsidies and tackling dysfunctions and speculations of food markets could contribute to improving the financial sustainability of national food systems.
How to make food systems in the broader Mediterranean region sustainable and climate resilient? What are the most promising solutions and reforms? In what ways can international organizations support local agricultural production to tackle the challenges of water scarcity and climate change? What can be done to prevent the next global food price crisis?