ZEF Policy Brief “G7 Development Assistance for Food Systems to Lift 500 Million People out of Hunger by 2030”

by Lukas Kornher, Heike Baumüller and Joachim von Braun, Center for Development Research, University of Bonn


  • The G7 countries made a commitment in 2015 at Elmau to lift 500 million people out of hunger and malnutrition by 2030.
  • Living up to this commitment requires policy reforms, innovations, and development finance. This policy brief focuses on development aid finance needed to come near to the G7 commitment.
  • Taking into account current aid flows to food systems improvements, the G7 countries would need to increase their current ODA spending on food systems by about US$ 14 billion per annum until 2030 on top of the emergency aid to cope with the acute food crises of 2022 resulting from the Covid-19 crisis and consequences of conflicts (including the Russian war in Ukraine).
  • The majority of G7 countries, except France and Germany, have fallen short of the needed scaling of development aid for food systems.
  • The upcoming G7 meeting Elmau II in 2022 offers the opportunity to add concrete funding targets to the commitment made in 2015. This policy brief identifies how G7 members might contribute to filling the financing gap for investments to lift 500 million people out of hunger and malnutrition by 2030:
    • The G7 countries would need to spend 0.08 percent of their Gross National Income (GNI) per annum on food systems aid to secure the total required annual funding of US$ 31.7 billion per annum.
    • Considering current spending on food systems of US$ 17.7 billion, G7 countries would need to increase spending by 0.036 percent of their GNI to reach the required additional US$ 14 billion per annum.
    • Providing a basis for G7 policy considerations, the calculations show the implications of two alternative options for sharing the required spending among the G7 countries.

Download ZEF Policy Brief here.

Policy Brief “Achieving the G7 Elmau Commitment in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic and Climate Change”

by Joachim von Braun (Center for Development Research), Maximo Torero Cullen (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations), David Laborde (International Food Policy Research Institute), Jaron Porciello (Cornell University), and Carin Smaller (International Institute for Sustainable Development)


  • Hunger levels are rising as a result of worsening conflict, economic downturns from COVID-19, the increasing frequency and severity of extreme weather-related events, high food prices, and inflation.
  • The need for immediate assistance to respond to the current crises and longer-term investments to address the fundamentals of poverty and low performance in agriculture and food systems are key challenges that need to be addressed in order to end global hunger by 2030.
  • Since the G7 Elmau commitment to lift 500 million people out of hunger and malnutrition in 2015, G7 countries have increased their spending on emergency food assistance but have not increased spending for longer-term investments in agriculture and food security.
  • For the G7 to meet the Elmau commitment together with other development partners, they need to mobilize an additional USD 14 billion per year on average until 2030, on top of current spending.

Read policy brief here.

Presentation at JIRCAS International Symposium 2021

Joachim von Braun gave a keynote presentation at the Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences (JIRCAS) International Symposium 2021 on November 17, 2021. The event followed up on the UN Food Systems Summit with a focus on Asia.

The theme of his keynote, “Research priorities in support of global and regional food systems transformations”.

The whole program and the speeches are at


Statements about engagement of science in the UN Food Systems Summit

There had been some critical statements about engagement of science in the UN Food Systems Summit and related campaign activities. An open letter to the UN Secretary General was send from the Chairs or Committee on Food Security (CFS), its High Level Panel of Experts (HLPE), and Human Right to Food UN Special Representatives:

Responding to these positions, the Co-Presidents of the InterAcademy Partnership (IAP) – the association of about 140 academies of sciences – placed a letter to the UN Secretary General on November 12th on the IAP website. It highlights the key role of science excellence for policy advice.

The IAP Presidents state “…we agree with the UN FSS Scientific Group that, following the Summit, there should be further exploration of the options for developing a strong, independent scientific body to provide policy advice.” And “… support placing the issue on the agenda for inclusive debate…”.

Interview in Rural 21 on “Transformation requires effective institutions”

Achieving a world without hunger is only one of the challenges which the world food system faces. In this interview, Joachim von Braun comments on the role of institutions, policy-makers, science and other factors in food systems transformation in the context and follow up of the UNFSS.

Read the interview here.

Scientific Group Chair Joachim von Braun addresses UN Food Systems Summit 2021

The Chair of the Scientific Group to the UN Food System Summit Joachim von Braun addressed participants at the Food Systems Summit during The People’s Plenary – Accelerating Action for the Future We Want. He highlighted science-based innovations that can transform food systems in four action areas of the Summit.

The full statement can be found here.

Announcement on the Initiative on the True Value of Food

The “hidden costs” of global food and land use systems are estimated to be US$19.8 trillion per year (Scientific Group of the UN Food Systems Summit, 2021): $7 trillion of environmental costs and $12 trillion of health costs (of which $11 trillion of loss of human life and $1 trillion of economic costs of illness). These costs, including high rates of diet-related chronic disease, the impacts of climate change and unfair wages are not included in prices and profits, and thus ignored by markets. Often, these costs are borne by people who did not have a say: the least advantaged segments of society (frequently smallholder farmers, youth, women, indigenous peoples, people of colour, marginalised communities) and by future generations.

At the same time, the global food system has many hidden benefits that are also not fully reflected in food prices: healthy food is a basic need with many economic and social benefits, and well-functioning food systems allow farmers and workers to earn a decent livelihood.

By creating transparency about the costs and benefits and applying appropriate incentives and disincentives across food systems, we can ensure more sustainable, healthful and fairer food systems in future and create real value for economic growth, society and businesses.

Preparation for the UNFSS has highlighted the urgency for action on these hidden costs and benefits. This action will include developing a new economic basis for decision making – one that accounts for the True Value of Food. This new basis will guide the decisions made by – consumers, businesses, financial institutions, investors and policy-makers towards more positive outcomes for people, the planet and prosperity.

This new basis includes three elements:

  • True Cost Accounting (TCA) to systematically quantify and value impacts and dependencies across the full agri-food value chain to enable decision-making and policies based on true value.
  • True Value business strategies to develop and implement successful business models that create true value for society.
  • True pricing policies to internalize the externalities to make healthy and sustainable food more affordable and align market incentives with true value through market-based pathways, regulatory and income policies.

Integrating these elements into national food systems plans and creating a supportive policy environment for the implementation of strategies and actions to protect our people, planet and prosperity will require coordinated action by all food systems stakeholders.

The Initiative on the True Value of Food represents a community of experienced experts who stand ready to support country efforts to consider, trial, implement and evaluate true cost, value and price of food actions and policy change. With the support of a number of UNFSS Leadership Team and Champions (Peter Bakker, Lawrence Haddad, Berry Martin, Ruth Richardson, Maximo Torrero and Joachim von Braun), the Initiative invites food systems expressions of interest from:

  • Countries for information, knowledge, tools, examples, capacity building and dialogue on the topic
  • Actors who would like to join the three focus areas below
  • Stakeholders who would like to engage in the stakeholder groups listed below.

Focus areas:

  • True costing accounting – Lauren Baker & Salman Hussain
  • True value business solutions – Matthew Watkins & Viktoria de Bourbon de Parme
  • True pricing policy approaches – Adrian de Groot Ruiz

Stakeholder groups:

  • Scientific Group & Research: Mario Herrero (environment) & Sheryl Hendriks (health/nutrition)
  • Civil Society/Farmers – Andreas Kratz
  • Private sector – Suzanne van Tilburg
  • Development partners – Roy Steiner

Please reach out to these facilitators to advance this urgent and essential element of the pathway to achieving the SDGs through a more fair, sustainable and healthful food system. You can submit your expression of interest to connect via the Google Form at https://forms.gle/wFMquRkELxHJDzEw5.

New article published in “Food Policy”

The Journal Food Policy published an article on “The global cost of reaching a world without hunger: Investment costs and policy action opportunities” by Bezawit Beyene Chichaibelu, Maksud Bekchanov, Joachim von Braun and Maximo Torero.

This study developed a marginal abatement cost curve to identify a mix of least-cost investment options with the highest potential for hunger reduction, hunger here defined by the undernourishment concept of the Food and Agriculture Organization. Twenty-two different interventions are considered for reducing undernourishment relying on information drawn from best available evidence-based literature, including model- and large-scale intervention studies. Ending hunger by 2030 would require annual investments of about US$ 39 to 50 billion until 2030 to lift about 840 to 909 million people out of hunger, which is the 2020 estimate of hunger projection in 2030, also considering the effects of COVID-19. Investing in agricultural R&D, agricultural extension services, ICT – Agricultural information systems, small-scale irrigation expansion in Africa and female literacy improvement are low cost options that have a relatively large hunger-reduction potential. To achieve the goal of ending hunger by 2030, not only is it urgent not to lose any more time, but also to optimally phase investments. Investments that have more long-term impacts should be frontloaded in the decade in order to reap their benefits soon before 2030. A balanced approach is needed to reach the hungry soon – including those adversely affected by COVID-19 with social protection and nutrition programs.

Read article here: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodpol.2021.102151