Responsible to Protect: The Impact of COVID-19 on Food Security and Nutrition and the Role of the G20

The G20 plays a crucial role in supporting the global fight against hunger and malnutrition in its multiple forms such as undernutrition and obesity. The pandemic has exposed the most vulnerable groups of the population (e.g., children, women, the elderly, internally displaced people, and informal workers in urban contexts) to several forms of food insecurity. The G20 can provide collective and coordinated leadership to tackle food crises, promoting an inclusive approach and coalition with all stakeholders, private and public, and ambitious initiatives across its different sectoral tracks. A key moment in this regard will be not only the final summit scheduled at the end of October 2021, but also a series of intermediate milestones. Among them, the recent Matera Declaration, through which the Italian Presidency has proposed the G20 members to fully endorse the FAO-led Food Coalition, the UN Food Systems Summit, the COP15 on biodiversity, the COP26 and the December Nutrition for Growth Summit.

The G20 needs to promote cross-cutting and integrated solutions to address these challenges, buidling a legacy for the future Indonesian and Indian G20 Presidencies in a “3 Is” (Italy, Indonesia and India) perspective. Therefore, this paper outlines some policy proposals that the Italian G20 Presidency should consider:

  1. It will be crucial to ease the burden of debt on LMICs to allow them to allocate proper resources to nutrition-related programs.
  2. G20 countries should support the increase of government spending for health up to at least 5 percent of GDP.
  3. G20 countries will need to work to ensure access to sustainable and healthy foods at affordable prices for all.
  4. It will be crucial to realign public spending to match health and nutrition objectives, ending subsidies for unhealthy foods and crops that do not ensure higher levels of nutrition and food security.
  5. Since food is a cross-cutting issue that touches upon several dimensions of sustainability, the Italian G20 Presidency
    should organize joint sessions of Agriculture, Finance, and Development Track Ministers to engage in policy dialogue leading to concerted action for the repurposing of agricultural support measures.
  6. The G20 must ensure full alignment and coherence with other key nutrition-related milestones that will take place in 2021.


Authors: Daniele Fattibene
Published by ACTION and the Istituto Affari Internazionali
Details: Washington, ACTION Secretariat / Rome, Istituto Affari Internazionali, July 2021, 26 p.
ISBN/ISSN/DOI: 978-88-9368-206-0

Download the report to learn more.