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Amidst Rising Hunger, BCFN Forum to Promote Food Sustainability

An organic farmer in his sustainable farm in Paro, Bhutan. Credit: Stella Paul/IPS

MILAN, Italy, Nov 26 2018 (IPS) - As 2018 nears its end, the world faces a new wave of food insecurity with the level of hunger being on the rise globally. A record 821 million people are facing chronic food deprivation – a sharp rise from 804 million figure in 2016 – said a report published by the UNFAO earlier this year. Along with rising hunger, food security has declined across Africa and South America while undernourishment is on the rise again in Asia, said the report which attributed the changing scenario to climate-related changes, adverse economic conditions and conflict. With this alarming picture as the backdrop, the 9th Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition (BCFN) International Forum on Food and Nutrition in Milan is all set to take off on November 27.

A Diverse, Promising Platform

Founded with the aim to “provide an open space for interdisciplinary discussion on issues of nutrition and sustainability,” the annual 2 day BCFN forum has always drawn food and nutrition experts, policy makers, media leaders and civil society. With a long line of speakers from governments, academia, business, research and media organizations, this year’s forum also appears promising where participants and followers can expect rich and diverse opinions, stories, and ideas, especially on sustainable food –which is the core focus area at this year’s forum. There is also a long list of topics being discussed that include hunger and obesity, optimum use of natural resources, reducing food waste, promoting sustainable diets, and the effects of climate change.

SDGs, Collaborative Food Action in Focus

The 2-day event is co-hosted by BCFN, in joint collaboration with the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network (UN SDSN), and is designed to have three sessions. The first session focused on understanding the three paradoxes of food: An obese planet dying of hunger; competition for natural resource among people, animals, and cars; and food loss and food waste. Session two is focused on the role of agriculture, nutrition, and food in migration and development while the third and fine session focuses on solutions towards a sustainable urban food system.

A prawn farmer selling his produce in Can Tho of Vietnam. Credit: Stella Paul/IPS

The Forum also will present the publication Food and Cities, a joint initiative between BCFN and the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact (MUFPP) which highlights effective food policies of various European Cities.

It is estimated that over 50 per cent of the world’s population today live in cities – a number expected to rise to 80% by 2050. If such trend continues undeterred, current food systems cannot meet the growing demand with sustainable development, especially since high levels of greenhouse gas emissions and global warming directly affects food production. Also, rising demand for food will require more water and land which will be in shortage due to raising of animals, grazing and cultivation of fodder.

The MUFPP which has 180 signatory cities worldwide, is an excellent example of collaborative action taken by cities to deal with the food security issues of tomorrow. The BCFN will, therefore, be a window to this global food action.

Food Sustainability and Role of Media

A salient feature of the forum has been its strong focus on the role of media in highlighting food and nutrition issues and also helping create a model for food sustainability, especially in accordance with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. For the second year on, the forum is hosting the Food Sustainability Media Award – an international contest that recognizes journalistic excellence in reporting on food from a different perspective and turning the spotlight on food sustainability. Apart from this, the pool of speakers also has a number of leading voices from media who will share their experiences of covering food and nutrition issues, throwing light on the biggest challenges faced by the global communities as well as the solutions that are working on the ground.

The full agenda of the event can be accessed here

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