By Joyce Mukucha
The United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guteress has warned that inefficient global food production is at the root of a huge rise in hunger as well as one-third of all emissions and 80 per cent of biodiversity loss as he called upon all countries to transform food systems to speed up sustainable development.
He was speaking at the 2021 Pre-Summit of the UN Food Systems Summit in Rome, Italy which kick-started yesterday.
“Up to 811 million people faced hunger in 2020 as many as 161 million more than in 2019. Due to the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, three billion people cannot afford to eat healthily, either,” said Guteress.
He further highlighted that countries were still far away from attaining Sustainable Development Goals(SDGs) pointing out climate change and inequalities among other vices were major causes of the disaster.
“We are seriously off track to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. Poverty, income inequality and the high cost of food are responsible for these ills. Climate change and conflict are the consequences and drivers of this catastrophe.
“There is no one size that fits all. We must work country by country, region by region, 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,”he said.
It has been reported that two and a half million people in the Central African Republic are facing hunger.
Speaking at the same summit, UN Deputy-Secretary-General Amina Mohammed emphasised that the international community ought to join hands in tackling growing hunger and poor nutrition.
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 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 Deputy UN chief said,”The outcome of these exchanges will contribute to suggested actions organized 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).”
Ms. Mohammed highlighted that the Covid-19 pandemic has caused fragile sustainability explaining how it has reversed efforts towards sustainable development, with latest UN data indicating that around 100 million people have been pushed into poverty since the start of the global health crisis.
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 the 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.
“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,” Ms. Mohammed said.
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 mobilize new financing and partnerships.
By Joyce Mukucha