Amid Global Crisis, UN Plans Food Systems Summit

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Ndubuisi Francis in Abuja

Amid increasing global food crisis particularly, among poor nations in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General, António Guterrez is to convene a UN Food Systems Summit.
This is aimed at raising awareness and shape global commitments in transforming food systems with a view to tackling hunger, reducing diet-related diseases and restoring planetary health.

The FSS is designed to launch bold new actions to transform the way the world produces and consumes food, delivering progress on all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
According to the UN scribe, it is unacceptable that hunger is on the rise at a time, when the world wastes more than one billion tonnes of food every year.

He said: “It is time to change how we produce and consume, including to reduce greenhouse emissions. Transforming food systems is crucial for delivering all the Sustainable Development Goals. As a human family, a world free of hunger is our imperative.”
There are rising fears that Nigeria and many African countries were on the verge of a food crisis occasioned by various challenges including floods, climate change effects, insecurity and locust invasion, among others.

But following the disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), an agency of the UN, QU Dongyu recently declared that, “the shocks of 2020 will reverberate long into 2021.”
Dongyu noted that the extraordinary challenges faced this year, from the pan-continental desert locust upsurge to the global pandemic, the number of people facing emergency levels of acute food insecurity might rise further “unless we act now and act at scale.”

In planning for 2021, the UN therefore considered a promising food systems summit in the face of current realities.
According to information pasted on the UN website, Antonio Guterres called for collective action of every global citizen to radically change the way food was produced, processed, transported, marketed and consumed.

The proposed summit would build on a number of global events and platforms as well as their agreements and collaborative actions.
Preparations for the summit will explore synergies between multiple regional and national initiatives that support the transformation of food systems and draw knowledge from the sources to inform the summit’s recommendations.

The event will follow five action tracks, which include ensuring access to safe and nutritious food, shifting to sustainable consumption patterns, boosting nature-positive production, advancing equitable livelihoods and building resilience.
Meanwhile, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has called for a planet-based diet, which researchers define as eating habits that benefit both human health and the natural environment.

The call was contained in its report, ‘Bending the Curve: The Restorative Power of Planet-Based Diets”, which detailed the ways countries could improve human health and restore the environment through sustainable diets.
To develop their recommendations, researchers at WWF analysed dietary patterns in 147 different countries and found five strategic actions achievable through dietary shifts.
They called on countries to reverse biodiversity loss, live within the global carbon budget for food, feed humanity on existing cropland, achieve negative emissions, and optimise crop yields.

The report broke down global food system solutions into national-level ideas to improve diet.
The Lead Author and Global Food Lead Scientist for WWF, Brent Loken said: “Individual countries will have the tools and the data that they need to say, ‘If I want to take this on, what are the implications for me?
“One of the most surprising things is just the sheer impact. Increasing your meat consumption by a few grams per day makes a huge difference,” Loken told Food Tank.

According to the calculator, if everyone in the United States reduced their red meat consumption by just 650 Calories (about one steak), it would prevent 274 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, the equivalent of taking 59 million cars off the road.
WWF believes that focusing on diets at the national level rather than the global level is important, because a solution that works