Current patterns of food production and consumption are leading to the collapse of the ecosystems on which humanity depends. But building a more sustainable food system is possible and only requires the political will to act now.
LAGOS – Food prices are at record highs in many countries, driven by factors such as climate change, violent conflict, the COVID-19 pandemic and supply chain disruptions. This perfect storm exposed the inefficiencies and flaws in global food systems, leading some to warn of a impending food crisis.
Last September, a United Nations Summit brought together key actors in food and agriculture and produced new national and international commitments to improve food systems for people and the planet. The top one five courses of action identified powerful solutions to eradicate hunger and malnutrition and to ensure environmental sustainability along food value chains. Governments and businesses had an ideal opportunity – shortly before the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow in November – to act decisively to transform food systems.
This opportunity did not materialize. But with time running out in criticism UN Decade of Action on Nutrition from 2016 to 2025, we need to measure progress in months, not years – and COP26 largely sidelined food systems. In the UN climate negotiations, coal, cars, trees, cement and steel – and money – continue to capture political and media attention, while the urgent need to change the how we produce and consume food is generally overlooked.
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