UN chief calls for jointly tackling growing hunger, poor nutrition
UNITED NATIONS: Inefficient global food production is at the root of a huge rise in hunger, as well as one-thirds of all emissions and 80 per cent of biodiversity loss, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has warned, in a call to all countries to transform food systems to speed up sustainable development.
Up to 811 million people faced hunger in 2020, as many as 161 million more than in 2019, he said, at the Pre-Summit of the UN Food Systems Summit in Rome that began on Monday.
Pointing to the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the UN chief said three billion people cannot afford to eat healthily, either.
“We are seriously off track to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030,” he said, who highlighted how “poverty, income inequality and the high cost of food” were responsible for these ills, and how climate change and conflict are the consequences and drivers of this catastrophe”.
Echoing those concerns and urging action at this week’s pre-summit, UN deputy secretary-general Amina Mohammed insisted that tackling growing hunger and poor nutrition were the challenges that the international community should rise to, “as we have the means to do it”.
She welcomed the fact that 145 countries had already embarked on national dialogues to decide on how sustainable food systems should look by 2030, in reference to the regular online meetings, public forums and surveys with youth, farmers, indigenous peoples, civil society, researchers, private sector, policy leaders and ministers of agriculture, environment, health, nutrition and finance.
The outcome of these exchanges will contribute to the suggested actions organised around the summit’s five action tracks to transform food production and leverage the far-reaching significance of food systems to help achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the UN deputy chief said.
“There is no one size that fits all. We must work country-by-country, region-by-region, and community-by-community, to ensure the diversity of needs are addressed to support each reality. The same applies for our food systems and the changes that are required so that we feed the world, without starving the planet of its future.”
The pre-summit, which is being held in a hybrid format, brings delegates together from more than 100 countries to launch a set of new commitments through coalitions of action and mobilise new financing and partnerships.
Amina Mohammed highlighted how the pandemic had reversed the efforts towards sustainable development, with the latest UN data indicating that around 100 million people have been pushed into poverty since the start of the global health crisis.
But she insisted that this week’s meeting in Rome, hosted by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), had the opportunity to ‘drive progress’ on delivering the 2030 Agenda, by agreeing positions on sustainable solutions, ahead of the leaders’ UN Food Systems Summit in New York in September.
“Through the 2030 Agenda, we agree to transform our world. We can only do that by working together,” she said.
“That means we must listen to one another, appreciate diverse perspectives and understand the dynamic and interconnected challenges that we face. It means we must commit to making the choices that are needed to ensure we leave no one or country behind,” she added.
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