Protecting and improving food systems will be vital to reducing the risk of people becoming food insecure, according to the United Nations. Photo credit: Sara Perria / IPSBONN, Germany / BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe, November 30th (IPS) – After the World Health Organization first declared COVID-19 a pandemic, the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) activated a global company emergency mechanism in March first time. It had already written to all donor countries asking for $ 1.9 billion in frontloading funds and started emergency procurement. Her priority was to keep the lifesaving aid going first.
And as the world’s countries began unprecedented nationwide closures, including international travel bans, closings of schools, shops, and indirect restrictions on local transportation and food supply chains, the WFP sought to keep transportation corridors open to both people and cargo.
The US agency, which won the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize, had already estimated that around 270 million people – compared to 135 million before COVID-19 – would become acutely food unsafe if they were not supported. In addition, 690 million people do not have enough to eat.
In response to the development emergency, however, the WFP found that the pandemic was also placing significant strain on the existing food systems.
Protecting and improving food systems will be critical to reducing the risk of people becoming food insecure and enabling “faster and fuller recovery,” according to the agency.
A focus of the upcoming online dialogue “Rolling the Food System From Farm to Fork” will focus on “The impending global food crisis and avoiding the worst effects of the pandemic, while taking the opportunity to reset the food systems” held on December 1st from the Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition (BCFN) and Food Tank.
“The current crisis shows us that we made a mistake somewhere along the way. We need to rethink the entire food system to move forward, ”said Edie Mukiibi, Vice President of Slow Food International and participant of the event.
Chairman of the Barilla Group and BCFN, Guido Barilla. Courtesy of Barilla GroupChair of the Barilla Group and BCFN, Guido Barilla believes resetting food systems is possible in less than a decade: “We need a positive movement to accelerate, empower, refine and create a more sustainable future Shaping and raising awareness among people – companies, citizens, institutions – a different future is possible. ”
“If there is one thing that the current situation has taught me is that nobody wins alone and that it is necessary to build new powerful alliances,” said Barilla, adding: “Another very important aspect depends on individual commitment each and every one of us together. ”
Danielle Kidneyberg, a food systems attorney and founder of Food Tank, a US food think tank, said smallholder farmers also play a key role in this.
“We need farmers in decision-making positions and strategies that affect them, whether it’s about the pandemic, the climate crisis or creating more justice in the food system, especially for women and girls.
“We need participatory research where farmers work with economists, researchers and growers to do the research that will help them improve yields or develop their practices and use different types of technologies. Innovations are not often picked up because the farmers are not involved, ”said Leberberg to IPS.
Excerpts from the interview with Barilla follow:
Inter Press Service (IPS): In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and the continued strain on the global food system, how can we move forward to ensure that the people of the world are fed in a sustainable way?
Guido Barilla (UK): The COVID-19 pandemic shows how closely we are all connected, not only to each other but also to the planet itself. This crisis is the latest example of the increasing pressure and expectations that are placed on us The global food system is exercised – not just to feed us all, but to make sure we are and do well fed while we care for the environment and tackle the climate crisis. and ensure that people’s livelihoods continue to be covered.
In this situation, we need to have the courage to change – food companies, retailers, institutions, chefs, citizens – because there is no alternative to sustainability. We have to make radical choices and we are here today to set a truly transformative agenda for a sustainable and just future (which will contribute to the 2021 United Nations Summit on Food Systems with our ideas and recommendations).
IPS: We only have 10 years to achieve the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda. Is this enough time to transform global food systems? And how can we do that after the COVID-19 pandemic?
GB: In my view, 10 years is pretty long enough to start a revolution and the next 5 years will be crucial. If there is one thing that the current situation has taught me is that no one wins alone and that it is necessary to build new powerful alliances:
to find a common language and common goals between the generations;
Find common solutions among actors along the food chain to build a truly regenerative, restorative and resilient food system;
between rich and poor countries to call on governments to a global partnership on agriculture, food security and nutrition to promote more coordinated and coherent global action;
between civil society and the private sector, never to lose sight of the real needs of the people.
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