Jordan participates in the 54th session of the United Nations Commission on Population and Development

A Jordanian delegation participated in the fifty fourth session of the United Nations Commission on Population and Development in New York and which took place between 19-23/4/2021 through video conference. This year the session came under the theme of “Population, food security, nutrition and sustainable development”, where a paper on Jordan’s position concerning the topics of “population, food security, nutrition and sustainable development” was presented. The paper affirmed that Jordan is committed to the international recommendations of the International Conference on Population and Development’s work program and the 2030 sustainable development goals, especially the second goal (ending hunger and promoting sustainable agriculture) and seeks to achieve it by 2030. This is as Jordan is working on carrying out policies and programs to strengthen food security and ending hunger and malnutrition according to international recommendations.

A side-meeting was held on the sidelines of the session yesterday Wednesday on the topic of “population and food security in the Arab region” with the participation of the Secretary General of the Ministry of Social Development, the Secretary General of the Ministry of Agriculture and a technical team from the Higher Population Council, and which was organized by the Arab League (Population Policies Administration – Technical Secretariat of the Arab Population and Development Council). This is in cooperation with the United Nations Population Fund and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) through video conference and where the content of the paper on Jordan’s position concerning the topics of “population, food security, nutrition and sustainable development” was discussed.

It was noted that despite the achievements Jordan has accomplished in aims of strengthening food security, it still faces a number of challenges in this area, as a result of the growing demand for food due to high population growth rates which is coupled with unsustainable consumption patterns as well as the pressure on the ecological system and environment and the water scarcity as the annual per capita share of water is no more than 96 cubic square meters, in addition to climate change. Jordan also ranks 64th place on the 2019 Global Food Security Index and still suffers from the burdens of multifaceted malnutrition and non-communicable diseases connected to food systems. The rate of anemia among women is at 30 per cent and at 17 per cent among children; the rate of overweight and obese adults is at 60 per cent, 40 per cent of them being women and 24 per cent men.

The paper also indicated that Jordan, like other countries, suffers from the implications of the coronavirus pandemic, and which has affected all social groups, particularly vulnerable and fragile groups as well as economic sectors. The pandemic has also exacerbated poverty and unemployment and decreased food security in all its dimensions and its effect on social protection programs, which has created a challenge against following-up with the path to ending hunger by 2030. Despite all the efforts, the unemployment rate increased from 19.3 per cent at the beginning of 2020 to 24.7 per cent in the fourth quarter of the same year, which will be reflected on families’ abilities to provide food and livelihood.

The paper also mentioned that Jordan is among food-importing countries due to it relying primarily on importing in food provision for its citizens whose number is now over (10.8) million people and the number is expected to rise to around (12) million people by 2030. Jordan also has to provide food for around 31 per cent of its people who are non-Jordanian residents, which has created and continues to create pressure on providing food security, as Jordan imports over 57 per cent of food. The pandemic has shown the importance of focusing on food sovereignty issues and strengthening production and self-sufficiency in face of crises and emergencies in place of depending on importing long-term.

On women’s roles, the paper indicated that Jordanian women play a primary role in strengthening food security. Some women participate in income generating activities through producing food at home. However, women’s economic participation is still low, as well as the limitations in their ownership of agricultural holdings and which is no more than 6 per cent of total agricultural holdings in the Kingdom and with an economic participation percentage of 5.6 percent in the agricultural sector. This is as well as the increase in the number of women working in the informal sector, and the decrease in the ability for women to obtain official funding compared to men as well as marketing problems. The special measures to contain the coronavirus pandemic has also produced challenges for Jordanian women concerning their roles in maintaining food security for the family, and some women losing their jobs. This is where there is a need to design social protection measures that take into account sex differences as well as to identify vulnerable groups and to invest in women’s leadership and including her in designing and carrying out response interventions that take into account all’s needs.

The paper also drew that the coronavirus pandemic has intensified the government’s work to strengthen the relationship between population, food security and sustainable development and showed the importance of adopting different strategies to promote inclusive development. This is through creating data bases, governing food security plans, strengthening the role of the private sector, creating digital information systems and early warning, strengthening research and development in aim of strengthening production and food safety as well as switching to more responsible patters on production and consumption and carrying out targeted social protection programs and supporting farmers. This is as well as adopting the required measures to respond to climate change and the fluctuation of rainfall and drought, maintaining biodiversity, protecting the environment and strengthening international cooperation in this area.

The most note-worthy goals of the side-meeting which was held on the sidelines of the session is the discussion of the food security situation in the Arab region and the future projections under present circumstances, as well as its relation to health, including reproductive health. It also discussed the possible effect of the coronavirus pandemic and the measures related to it (lockdowns and social distancing) on agriculture and food security in the Arab region. This is as well as discussing the possibilities of helping national population councils and committees in Arab countries in plans to respond to crises and emergency situations and overcoming the implications and challenges of the coronavirus pandemic. The meeting also discussed the policy recommendations on population centrality and strengthening food systems to become more sustainable and to ensure flexibility between all population groups for future crises.