UNSG Antonio Guterres convened the first-ever UN Food Systems Summit which took place on 23-24 September. The Summit preparation had a well-designed structure with remarkable and appreciated leadership of Amina Mohammed, UN DSG. Due to the hard work of the UN Special Envoy, Agnes Kalibata, and her whole Team, the organisation and logistics of the Summit was excellent.
In three cycles I spent all together more than 15 years in Rome, at the Permanent Representation of Hungary to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) and between my last two assignments in Rome my responsibilities in Budapest included FAO related issues. This made it possible for me to witness the development of this organization under the leadership of four Directors-General. Edouard Saouma, Jacques Diouf, Jose Graziano da Silva and Qu Dongyu. This long association and “historic” view of FAO would definitely help me in fulfilling the role of the Independent Chairperson of the Council of FAO (ICC). As conventional wisdom suggests, in order to make good decisions for the future we need to know, understand and learn from the past. The Independent External Evaluation, commissioned by the FAO Council in 2004, was an important milestone in this regard. It was followed by inclusive discussions among FAO Members about the recommendations and finally an Immediate Plan of Action was adopted by the FAO Conference. It was the most significant reform in FAO and I had the privilege to contribute to this process.
Five years after the adoption of the 2030 Agenda we are far from achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). According to the recently launched SOFI Report
(The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2020), we are not on track to eradicate poverty, hunger and malnutrition. On the contrary, with the current trends, the global number of undernourished people in 2030 would exceed 840 million. Moreover, WHO has reported alarming rates of overweight and obesity, globally affecting 39% and 13% of the adult population, respectively.
Hunger and food insecurity continue to rise. The official 2019 statistics refer to 821 million people suffering from hunger all over the world. According the recently launched Global Report on Food Crises
, there are further 135 million people facing crisis levels of hunger or worse. WFP
estimates that due to the impacts of COVID19, additional 130 million people could be pushed to the brink of starvation by the end of 2020. This means a total increase of 265 million people. If there will be no appropriate and urgent actions, “we could be facing multiple famines of biblical proportions within a short few months
”, said David Beasley, WFP Executive Director, addressing the UN Security Council on 21st April.
Reducing poverty and inequalities, eliminating hunger and all forms of malnutrition and achieve food security for all – these are some of the most important objectives of the Sustainable Development Goals. Still, the rate of poverty and inequalities is increasing and over 820 million people are going hungry. In addition, 2 billion people in the world are food insecure with great risk of malnutrition and poor health. This alarming situation is further aggravated by current trends such as the rate of population growth, impacts of climate change, loss of biodiversity, soil degradation and many others. Transition to more sustainable food systems can provide adequate solutions to all these challenges. Pulses could play an important role in this transition, having nutritional and health benefits, low environmental footprint, and positive socio-economic impacts as well. What is required to promote and support the production and consumption of more pulses? This question is particularly relevant now, since 10 February is the World Pulses Day.
The right to food is a universal human right. Yet, over 820 million people are going hungry, according the latest edition of the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (SOFI 2019). In addition, 2 billion people in the world are food insecure with great risk of malnutrition and poor health” 1