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To promote global awareness and action for those who suffer from hunger and ensure access to healthy meals for all, World Food Day was earmarked to be celebrated on October 16 annually.
- More than 3 billion people (almost 40% of the world population cannot afford a healthy diet.
- Nearly 2 billion people are obese due to a poor diet and sedentary lifestyle.
- Health care costs could exceed USD 1.3 trillion by 2030.
- Globally, 20% more women than men in the age bracket of 25-34 live in extreme poverty.
The Future of Food: A Sustainable Agriculture Food System
The above statistics highlight the need to adopt a sustainable and resilient food ecosystem on an urgent basis. A sustainable agri-food system means a system where a variety of affordable and nutritious food is available to everyone, and no one suffers from malnutrition. In a sustainable agri-food system, less food is wasted, and the food supply chain is more resilient to shocks from extreme weather, price spikes, or pandemics. Our future policies will have to consider multiple linkages between areas affecting food security, including education, health, energy, social protection, finance, etc.
Agri-food systems employ 1 billion people worldwide, more than any other economic sector. Moreover, the way we produce, consume, and, sadly, waste food exacts a heavy toll on our planet, putting unnecessary pressure on natural resources, the environment, and the climate. Food production too often degrades or destroys natural habitats and contributes to species extinction. Such inefficiency is costing us trillions of dollars, but, most importantly, today’s agri-food systems are exposing profound inequalities and injustices in our global society. Three billion people cannot afford healthy diets, while overweight and obesity continue to increase worldwide.
The COVID-19 pandemic has underlined that an urgent change of route is needed. It has made it even harder for farmers – already grappling with climate variability and extremes – to sell their harvests, while rising poverty is pushing an increased number of city residents to use food banks, and millions of people require emergency food aid. We need sustainable agri-food systems that are capable of nourishing 10 billion people by 2050.
Solutions exist. Governments need to repurpose old policies and adopt new ones that foster the sustainable production of affordable, nutritious foods and promote farmer participation. Policies should promote equality and learning, drive innovation, boost rural incomes, offer safety nets to smallholders, and build climate resilience. They also need to consider the multiple linkages between areas affecting food systems, including education, health, energy, social protection, finance, and more, and make solutions fit together. And they need to be backed by a significant increase in responsible investment and strong support to reduce negative environmental and social impacts across sectors, particularly the private sector, civil society, researchers, and academia.
The UN Secretary-General convened the first Food Systems Summit in September 2021 to agree on bold new measures to change the way food is produced and consumed worldwide and encourage the world to pursue the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
More information is available here:
Lawyer, Jharkhand High Court (India)
Global Representative (India), Roya Institute of Global Justice