Sunday, September 26, 2021

Global food system is broken

 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, United Nations chief Antonio Guterres told the first said global summit on the future of food recently.

Reuters news agency reported that the summit hopes 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 on-line summit 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. 

"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," he said.

After remaining steady for five years, world hunger and malnutrition increased last year by about 118 million people to 768 million. The COVID-19 pandemic was responsible for most of that increase, the UN report said.

World food prices were 33.9 per cent higher in June than a year earlier, 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," said New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in his address during the summit.

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.