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Why the World Cant Afford to Wait for Transparent, Equitable Food Systems — Global Issues

UNFSS hopes to transform the way food is produced, packaged and distributed to address food insecurity and waste. Credit: Alison Kentish
  • by Alison Kentish (reed, dominique)
  • Inter Press Service

Through pre-summit and national dialogues, scientists, policymakers, farmers, NGOs, private sector representatives and youth groups created momentum ahead of the United Nations Food Systems Summit in September. The aim is to ensure that the world produces food with greater attention to climate change, poverty, equity, sustainability and waste reduction.

The Global Alliance for the Future of Food is one of the partners addressing the urgent need to transform food systems for food security, equity, the global economy and COVID recovery -19. Since 2012, the alliance of philanthropic foundations has engaged in global discussions, supported and led global food processing research and advanced initiatives in the areas of climate, health and agroecology.

The Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition (BCFN) works with the Alliance to share ideas and knowledge to design projects that can ensure a more sustainable food system for future generations.

IPS spoke with the Alliance’s Senior Director of Programs, Lauren Baker, about the urgent need to overhaul food systems, the impact of COVID-19 on these systems and why true cost accounting is essential to the international effort to reorganize production, sales and distribution. of food.

Inter Press Service (IPS): The mission of the Global Alliance for the Future of Food is to make food systems more sustainable and equitable. The United Nations Food Systems Summit pursues the same goal. What do you want to see the Summit achieve?

Lauren Baker (LB): Through the summit process, we are committed to engaging a network of food systems champions. We stand for systems thinking, transparency and accountability. We support the need for diverse evidence and inclusive representation throughout the process.

Our goal has been to focus the research on one issue, which we believe is an important lever for transforming food systems, and this was echoed by many in the summit process. This is the question of true cost accounting.

Time and time again in the courses of action, we have heard people stress the need for measurable and transparent approaches such as true cost accounting to move us forward. What is true cost accounting: we examine the negative externalities of food systems that are not fit for purpose. The industrial food system has several important impacts on human health and the environment. We need to take this into account, use this information to think differently and make different decisions that advance and defend the true value of food and highlight alternatives.

There are many food systems initiatives proliferating around the world that are healthy, equitable, diverse, inclusive, renewable and resilient. How do we shine a light on these integrated benefits of food systems when they are managed properly and not extractive?

(IPS): What are some of the food systems lessons that you think we have learned from the COVID-19 pandemic?

(KG): I think the Summit comes at a time when everyone’s awareness of food systems issues is heightened, and that makes the work of the Summit even more critical.

One of the main lessons has been the vulnerability of groups deserving of equity in the context of this type of global emergency. If you extend that to future emergencies that will present themselves to us due to climate change, then we need to address issues of equity and social systems that uplift people instead of making them more vulnerable in a context like a pandemic.

We have seen essential workers continue to be stressed. We have seen the impact of COVID on migrant workers, farmers and supply chain resilience. We have seen that the global supply chain via COVID, on the one hand, has been very vulnerable. On the flip side, it has been sustainable, but there has been growing interest due to COVID in resilient local and regional supply chains. Throughout the pre-summit, I heard government officials and other actors stress the importance of building and strengthening local and regional supply chains.

I think that just highlighted resilience as a whole – the idea of ​​resilience and how food systems are connected to our other crises, like our global inequality crisis, our climate crisis, and our climate crisis. biodiversity crisis. We now see that these things are intertwined and that the solutions will also have to be interdependent.

(IPS): How important is indigenous knowledge in this mission of transforming food systems?

(KG): In our work on true cost accounting, I think indigenous knowledge is very undervalued when you consider the true value of food systems.

Indigenous peoples have historically managed and managed their food systems and have knowledge they can offer to the world. Their knowledge is very place-based, and throughout the summit process, I heard how important innovation in place-based science knowledge is. This type of knowledge provides a grounded perspective, a different worldview that connects us to the places we live in in different ways than we are currently connected.

(IPS): Food systems experts also continue to push for agroecology to be at the center of these discussions. What is your opinion on this?

(KG): For me, when you look through the food system, agroecology is a systemic solution that brings all of these values ​​that I was talking about very clearly to the fore.

Agroecology can improve livelihoods by moving from a system that has negative impacts to positive benefits. It’s creative and knowledge intensive. It is also placed relaxing and ecological. It is diverse, so we must maintain the importance of agricultural biodiversity and agriculture as a link with wild landscapes as well. Agroecology connects in a beautiful way to our wild spaces, to agroforestry, where biodiversity and habitat can be preserved and improved.

We are currently doing an excellent job of evaluating, using a true cost accounting framework, all these agro-ecological initiatives around the world to examine their positive impacts on the environment, the socio-cultural impacts on human health and their economic impacts.

We are excited to start this work at the Food System Summit in September. We believe this is an important way to maintain agroecology, indigenous knowledge and creativity in the urban communities that we see around food systems.

(IPS): What do you think is the key message before the Food Systems Summit?

(KG): A key message for me is simply the importance of transparency in all of this.

How do we ensure that our world leaders act boldly now and adopt transparent, measurable, systemic approaches that can actually facilitate inclusive transformation as quickly as possible? We simply cannot afford to wait!

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© Inter Press Service (2021) – All rights reservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service

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