The report has been produced by the HLPE-FSN following a request from the CFS and focuses on the role that data collection and analysis tools play in supporting effective evidence-informed decisions.

Food is a fundamental human right, yet too many people in the world do not have secure access to the food they need.

High-quality data and their accurate analysis are essential to design, monitor and evaluate effective food security and nutrition (FSN) policies. Data are also fundamental to ensure accountability of government policies and to monitor their implementation and impact. The data revolution, driven by new technologies, is increasing exponentially the volume and types of data available. This provides great opportunities for informing and transforming food systems, but also presents new challenges which, if not properly tackled, can deepen inequalities.

This report presents the inherent complexity and multiple dimensions of FSN data collection, analysis and use – including economic, social, institutional, political, legal and technical dimensions; the types of users involved and the numerous and diverse purposes for which data may be used in food security and nutrition efforts, as well as the extant challenges. The report also advances actionable recommendations to enhance the contribution that data can make to ensuring food security and nutrition for all.

Key messages:

  • Throughout the world, high-quality, timely and relevant data are key to inform actions that promote better access to food and improved nutrition.

  • Despite the abundant and growing availability of data and information relevant to food security and nutrition, often policymakers are not aware of the existence  and relevance of such data or do not use them appropriately, due to challenges at each step of the data cycle, which includes: defining priorities and data needs; reviewing, consolidating, collecting and curating data; analyzing the data using appropriate tools; translating data into relevant insights to be disseminated and discussed; and, finally, using data for decision-making.

  • Fundamental data gaps still exist to correctly guide action and inform policymaking, especially in terms of timely and sufficiently granular data on people’s ability to locally produce and access food, on their actual food and nutrient consumption, and on their nutritional status. Increased and sustained financial investment is needed to overcome these gaps.

  • Several other constraints limit the effectiveness of data-informed policy action, especially in lowresource countries. Key among them is the low level of data literacy and analysis skills (for both qualitative and quantitative data) on the part of many data and information users at all levels – from data collectors and analysts, to decision-makers, and to the people, as the ultimate beneficiaries of food security and nutrition policies.

  • The complexity of the system of public and private actors and institutions involved in food security and nutrition data, coupled with the rapidly changing characteristics of today’s data ecosystems due to the digital revolution and the pervasiveness of the internet, brings to centre stage the need for global
    coordination to improve data governance. Particularly urgent is the need to reach agreement on the nature of FSN data and information as a public good, and, on that basis, to establish a global legal framework that allows for the broadest possible circulation of relevant information, while preserving the rights of the people to whom the data ultimately belongs.


Maurizio Navarra


Maurizio Navarra

Secretariat Coordinator