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UN Food Systems Summit looks for recipe to tackle global food dysfunction

24 September 2021

Billions of people are overweight, millions are hungry, one third of food is wasted and the way the world produces, processes and consumes food generates one-third of greenhouse gas emissions, UN chief Antonio Guterres said on 23 September at the first global summit on the future of food.

Reuters reports that the aim of the summit is to deliver progress on 17 sustainable development goals, created by the United Nations in 2015 as a wide-ranging "to-do" list including ending hunger and poverty, achieving gender equality and taking action on climate change.

Guterres told the summit - held virtually because of the coronavirus pandemic on the sidelines of the annual high-level UN General Assembly - that food systems need to support the health and well-being of all people, protect the planet and support prosperity.

"As a global community, we need to shift our approach on agricultural subsidies, and employment support for workers," he said. "And we need to re-think how we see and value food — not simply as a commodity to be traded, but as a right that every person shares."

After remaining virtually unchanged for five years, world hunger and malnutrition rose last year by around 118 million people to 768 million, with most of the increase likely caused by the pandemic, according to a UN report.

On internationally traded markets, world food prices were up 33.9% year-on-year in June, according to the UN food agency's price index, which measures a basket of cereals, oilseeds, dairy products, meat and sugar.

"We must grow food where the environment supports it best and where emissions efficiency is greatest, while minimizing the barriers to trade and efficient distribution," New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told the summit.

US President Joe Biden said on 21 September that Washington would spend $10 billion to end hunger and invest in food systems at home and abroad. US officials said half of that money would fund Feed the Future over the next five years, a US initiative that aims to reduce poverty, hunger, and malnutrition.

The World Bank Group, International Food Policy Research Institute and the Food & Land Use Coalition introduced a roadmap at the summit that aims to show how capital can be shifted from a high-carbon, unequal, extractive food system and into models that add value for people, planet and the economy.

They said the roadmap could unlock $4.5 trillion in new business opportunities every year by 2030 and ensure a more sustainable food system.

The summit also saw farming organizations across the globe seek to make contributions to food security. In a joint declaration signed by EU farming union Copa and Cogeca and other key producer organizations, farmers made commitments outlining how their efforts will shore up the global food system.

The joint declaration underlines the commitment of primary producers to continue their efforts in producing enough nutritious food for a growing population while improving the sustainability of their production. They also commit to working hard to preserve habitats while contributing to social vitality and job creation in rural areas.

The declaration calls on EU members and other key stakeholders to reward farmers’ efforts to produce food while “respecting planetary boundaries and biodiversity.” It also calls on governments to facilitate the access to technologies, knowledge and financial resources that will help farmers achieve the objectives of the Food Systems Summit. Farming groups also stressed the need to actively collaborate with policymakers to ensure that all stakeholders can partake in a sustainable food future.

Read more about this story here.

 

Source: Reuters



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