Current food systems are no longer fit for the 21st century. Inequitable distribution, poor nutritional habits, and climate change are three issues breaking down our global food systems today, forcing us to look for solutions to transform them. Food aid – very much part of our global food systems – needs to be responsive to the challenges that lie ahead.
With the world still counting the social and economic costs of the Covid-19 pandemic, amid a fresh “code red
” on the climate crisis, food may not seem like the most pressing threat to humanity.
September 23, 2021 is the first-ever UN Food Systems Summit, convened to mobilize the highest-priority transformations needed to end hunger through the sustainable production and distribution of food. Transforming food systems to ensure food security for all has never been so urgent.
Food processing extends shelf-life and can transforms raw food into attractive, marketable products. It can also prevent contamination. The transformation can involve numerous physical and chemical processes such as mincing, cooking, canning, liquefaction, pickling, macerating, emulsification, irradiation and lyophilization. Frozen processed and raw food changes transport and storage requirements radically; while the packaging of food, both raw and processed, is an industry unto itself.
When the UN Charter
was being drafted in the closing days of the Second World War in 1945, a debate ensued on what its opening words should be. Jan Smuts, representative of colonial South Africa, had originally suggested that the UN Charter begin with the words, ‘The High Contracting Parties.’
COVID-19 has exposed serious vulnerabilities in how people around the world access and consume food.
One of the more alarming trends is the significant increase in the consumption of foods that may be tasty and convenient, but harm our heath. These ultra-processed products include sugary drinks, snack foods, frozen meals, packaged breads and frozen desserts.
Why is the UN holding a Food Systems Summit? Two issues that need discussion at the international leadership level are: Long before the Covid crisis was upon us, the number of hungry people in the world was increasing. Why ? What is the cause of this disturbing trend? And, can a country really claim to be food secure, unless it produces or can buy enough food to feed its population and its people can access sufficient quantities to keep themselves fit and healthy? Disquietening questions as extreme weather begins to show the destructive power that climate change will have on the planet and its people.
As developing countries struggle to cope with the pandemic, they risk being set back further by restrictive fiscal policies. These were imposed by rich countries who no longer practice them if they ever did. Instead, the global South urgently needs bold policies to ensure adequate relief, recovery and reform.
Last year, as the world grappled to survive the Covid-19 Pandemic, Megan Fernandas an accountant living in Toronto, was trying to face her biggest fear, not the COVID-19 virus, but missing her doctor's appointment after surviving a rigorous fight against stage 2 breast cancer.
COVID-19 has exposed numerous fractures in global food systems that leave millions at risk of food insecurity. Like the numerous political failures in dealing with COVID, the repercussions of food system failings are experienced by rich and poor countries alike, with the poorest and most marginalised paying the greatest price.
The traumatic events that occurred in recent weeks in Afghanistan have once again placed this Asian country at the center of the world’s attention with high-impact coverage and analysis in the media.
Chhattisgarh was one of the first few states
in the country to universalise the public distribution system (PDS) and provide ‘Right to Food’ to its people. In order to ensure access to quality foodgrains for its vulnerable population, the state introduced the Food Security Act
in 2012. The state has been providing support
—35 kg of rice at INR 1 and INR 2 per kg; 1 kg of iodised salt and 1 kg refined oil at no cost; 2 kg of grams at INR 5 per kg—to each eligible family (as defined in the act).
This is the third serious attempt to inject some momentum in the negotiations between the Venezuelan government and opposition. Negotiations have been taking place in Mexico since last Friday, with Norway acting as mediator.
Policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic crisis have exacerbated rather than reduced global inequalities. On the one hand, the net wealth of billionaires has risen to record levels since the outbreak of the pandemic (increasing by more than US$ 5 trillion to US$ 13.1 trillion from 2020 to 2021), on the other hand, the number of people living in extreme poverty has also increased massively (by approx. 100 million to 732 million in 2020).
A pre-pandemic report published by the International Labor Organization, ILO, the Global Employment Trends for Youth 2020
, offered a sober analysis on the job market prospects for youth.
Last weekend, U.S. corporate media continued a 20-year repetition compulsion to evade the central role of the USA in causing vast carnage and misery due to the so-called War on Terror. But millions of Americans fervently oppose
the military-industrial complex and its extremely immoral nonstop warfare.
Timely interventions by civil society, including concerned scientists, have prevented many likely abuses of next week’s UN Food Systems Summit (UNFSS). The Secretary General (UNSG) must now prevent UN endorsement of what remains of its prime movers
’ corporate agenda.
Raise retirement ages!
That’s the simple, clear and unavoidable message that economics
are sending to governments around the world.
Today, on 13 September 2021, the UN Declaration and Programme of Action adopted by the General Assembly in 1999 will be turning 22.
You would recall that the 20th anniversary of The Culture of Peace of its adoption by the world’s highest multilateral body in 2019 was observed by the United Nations in an appropriate and befitting manner, as called for by the Assembly. It was an occasion for reiteration and recommitment by us all to create the culture of peace in our world, beginning with each one of us.
The 2021 high-level commemoration of the United Nations Day for South-South Cooperation
, organized ahead of the opening of the seventy-sixth session of the United Nations General Assembly, provided an opportunity to discuss Southern solidarity in support of a more inclusive, resilient and sustainable future while effectively responding to the global COVID-19 crisis across the global South.
Wagma Saad, is an Internationally Trained Medical Doctor (ITMD) from Kabul Medical University, Afghanistan, currently living in Canada with her family. Saad graduated in 2016, an education that didn’t come easily to her. With numerous restrictions, blocks and challenges placed at every step, fighting numerous social and political battles, she chased her passion for science and medicine, and after seven years at medical school, she finally got to call herself a doctor.