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.
A population of more than 9 billion people, hotter temperatures, decaying ecosystems and increasingly severe natural disasters. That is what our world is facing by 2050
because of climate change.
I am in the Swedish countryside, lush and beautiful in its late summer attire, having a conversation with the son of a friend of mine. Oskar Olin runs a sheep farm, Stabbehyltan Lamm AB
, where he practises holistic management
. His three-hundred sheep graze within an area of 30 ha where Oskar every day moves his flock from one pasture to another. It takes between 45 to 90 days before the sheep are back on the same pasture where the rotation began. The animals are thus not overgrazing the area, while they at the same time trample down a protective layer of vegetation, which fertilizes the soil. Carbon is bound in the earth, soil organic matter increases, retaining humidity and accordingly deepen the root systems of wholesome plants.
When 33-year-old Kimani Mwaniki, an Irish potato farmer in Elburgon, Nakuru County in Kenya’s Rift Valley, heard about a farmer’s virtual school, he didn’t hesitate to enrol. He was keen to learn how the programme will enable him to get higher crop yields for his market in the capital city Nairobi and elsewhere.
The world has been put on notice that there is no time to waste in achieving the goal of food systems transformation.
Gilbert Bor manages a small farm in the western highlands of Kenya. Landscapes are hilly, village roads lined with pine trees, his cows mostly of the Friesian breed. He is up at 6:00am daily to lead his animals through the woods into the valley below.
Back-to-back droughts followed by plagues of locusts have pushed over a million people in southern Madagascar to the brink of starvation in recent months. In the worst famine in half a century, villagers have sold their possessions and are eating the locusts, raw cactus fruits, and wild leaves to survive.
Undoubtedly, the world needs to reform existing food systems to better serve humanity and sustainable development. But the United Nations World Food Systems Summit (UNFSS
) must be consistent with UN-led multilateralism.
For the first time ever, the World Economic Forum (WEF), a partnership of some of the world’s most powerful corporations, is partnering the UN in launching the Summit, now scheduled for September, with its ‘Pre-Summit’ beginning today.
Rwanda is trying to reduce post-harvest loss by relying on new technologies to increase the amount of food available for consumption and help smallholder farmers confront some challenges caused by the overproduction of staple crops.
With its political and economic clout, the G20 should lead in delivering sustainable food systems as the world grapples with rising hunger, malnutrition and inequality.
In three weeks, the United Nations will bring together farmers, scientists, policymakers and civil society for the last major event ahead of the September UN Food Systems Summit.
In July, the United Nations will convene “Science Days
”, a high-profile event in preparation for the UN Food Systems Summit later this year. Over the course of two days, the world will be treated to a parade of Zoom sessions aimed at “highlighting the centrality of science, technology and innovation for food systems transformation.”
In 2020, Southeast Asian countries were already facing varied challenges that affected the region’s food supplies and prices. The onset of the Covid-19 pandemic later in the year exacerbated the region’s food insecurity and poverty. Southeast Asian countries need to take a hard look at food security, even as the double challenges — climate change and the Covid-19 pandemic — continue to fester.
Acute hunger is expected to soar in over 20 countries in the next few months, warns a recent report
on global “hunger hotspots” from the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP). An estimated 34 million people are “one step away from starvation”, pushed to the brink by climate shocks, conflict, and the Covid-19 pandemic.
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.
It is an uncommon occurrence to see farms with flourishing healthy crops in Kenya’s semi-arid Makueni County. But in Kithiani village, Justus Kimeu’s two-acre piece of land stands out from the rest. After embracing the regenerative agriculture (RA) technique, the 52-year-old farmer is looking forward to a bumper harvest of maize as all his neighbours count their losses following this year’s failed season.
Producers and consumers seem helpless as food all over the world comes under fast growing corporate control. Such changes have also been worsening environmental collapse, social dislocation and the human condition.
The COVID-19 pandemic, protracted conflicts and climate change have created an untenable situation for the most vulnerable, with 155 million people across 55 territories suffering from severe food insecurity, sending acute hunger figures to a 5-year high.
Global youth advocates have been told that they play a crucial role in ensuring that the world produces and consumes food with greater attention to nutrition, food security, equality and sustainability.
As the United Nations prepares to host the inaugural Global Food Systems Summit in September, the organisation is hosting a series of dialogues to correct flaws in the way food is grown, processed, packaged and marketed, hoping to tackle growing world hunger, water scarcity and climate change.
Since the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) was launched in 2006, yields have barely risen, while rural poverty remains endemic, and would have increased more if not for out-migration.
After Joseph Mandu lost his job because of the country’s coronavirus lockdown, he would still wake every morning and leave his home in the City Carton slum in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi. But instead of heading to the restaurant he worked at as a pool-table attendant, he would walk around City Carton searching for odd jobs to earn an income so he could pay for the food his family needed to survive.