On September 10th
, on a sweltering summer afternoon, three fishers drove a van around the residential community of Castle Comfort in Dominica, blowing forcefully into their conch shells – the traditional call that there is fresh fish for sale in the area.
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.
Food security experts have raised an alarm that with as many as 811 million people the world over or 10 percent of the global population going hungry, the world is off-track to ending hunger and malnutrition.
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.
Dubbed ‘the People’s Summit, the United Nations Food Systems Summit (UNFSS) hopes to put the world back on a path to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, through food systems overhauling. From the tempered to the extremely optimistic, experts in various food system sectors share their expectations of transformation.
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.
Women, key contributors to agriculture production, are missing at the decision table, with alarming consequences, says Food Tank President Danielle Nierenberg in an exclusive interview with IPS.
In the backdrop of rising hunger, half of the world’s population living on unhealthy diets, a third of agricultural produce lost to postharvest events, and waste, poverty in farming communities, a pandemic that laid bare the vulnerability of food systems to external shocks and unsustainable food production, the Barilla Foundation for Food and Nutrition has published a report which introduces guidelines for the private sector to fulfil its role in transforming global food systems.
As incidents of drought and extreme rainfall increase, farmers in Southeast Asia are partnering with experts to develop targeted weather forecasts to work around the threats and, when adaptation becomes too costly, buy specially designed insurance to protect their livelihoods.
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.
The world faces multiple crises: climate change, extreme weather events, food security and biodiversity. For African nations, these issues are compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic and epidemic outbreaks that include Rift Valley Fever and Malaria. With 35 African Union Member States as signatories to its establishment Treaty, the African Risk Capacity (ARC) Group – comprising of ARC Agency and ARC Limited - works with Governments to help improve their capacities to better plan, prepare, and respond to extreme weather disasters and natural disasters.
As the United Nations gears up for its Food Systems Summit September 23, the urgent need for structural changes in how we grow, harvest, distribute, and consume food has never been more apparent.
A smartphone app in Fiji is helping users to not only eat better but to help grow food that will contribute to a more nutritious diet.
A woman farmer in Samoa is using innovation and technology to overcome economic hardship as the Pacific Island nation seeks ways to adapt to the challenges resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic.
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.
Forty schoolteachers and principals in the Republic of Marshall Islands (RMI) completed a five-day workshop last month equipping schools to play a key role in strengthening the food security efforts in the country.
Communities in Arica y Parinacota, the region in the extreme north of Chile, are using solar energy and are being empowered by projects for shrimp and trout farming, the production of yarn from camelid wool, the production of tomatoes and cheese, and even the sale of surplus solar power to the national electric grid.