Arab Horizon 2030: Prospects for Enhancing Food Security in the Arab Region
Food security is universally recognized as paramount to human well-being. But what exactly does it mean, and what is required to achieve food security? A comprehensive definition put forward by the World Food Summit in 1996 holds that “food security [is] a situation that exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life”. This definition is useful, in that it points to the wide range of factors that need to be in place for a person to be food secure. First, food must be available in the country, through domestic production, import, or both. Second, households must have access to food, which entails both the need for food to physically reach markets and the financial ability of consumers to afford buying food. Third, individuals must consume a sufficient quantity and appropriate quality of food, and be healthy enough to metabolize that food. Furthermore, all of these aspects must be stable over time.
Food security is a complex subject, involving a wide range of areas of study, including agriculture, economics, politics, sociology and human physiology. Moreover, food security is complex in terms of the multiple lines of causality involved. For example, domestic agricultural production plays a role in food availability, but also in terms of access, because agriculture is the primary source of income for many of the poorest households.
This publication hopes to inform the debate regarding the status of food security in Arab countries and policy options for enhancing food security in the future, noting the overarching directions of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Given the heterogeneity of the Arab region, both in terms of natural endowment, particularly in water resources, and economic capability, the analysis in the report divides the region into four sub-regions, each consisting of a number of more homogeneous countries.