Fundamental change is needed at the UN Summit to tackle global food insecurity – a global problem

A market vendor sells products at the Victoria Market in Port Victoria, Seychelles. Credit: UN Women / Ryan Brown
  • Feedback By Nick Nisbet – Leslie Hoye – Graziano da Silva (Brighton, United Kingdom)
  • Inter Press Service

To put it bluntly, while the number of people who are malnourished is shamefully high, it is a food crisis that is not just a matter of hunger or famine. An estimated 38.9 million children worldwide have an additional silent and growing crisis, and in many cases these children become adults with chronic diseases associated with unhealthy eating and obesity (diabetes, heart disease and some cancers, etc.).

In addition to these dual burdens of malnutrition, there is a third crisis – climate change – which is a major contributor to food and agriculture and is at risk for its effects and therefore poses a further threat to food security.

The United Nations (UN) Food Systems Summit was envisioned on 23rd September 2021 (in UN language) to develop a fair, healthy and sustainable response to ensure that “no one is left behind” as we “come back better” from Kovid. 1919.

Fort1,000 people took part in the summit dialogue, but the process has been criticized for its inadequate attention to human rights, including the sovereignty of indigenous peoples over their own food system and the rights of workers in the food system.

More than anything, Summit criticism has focused on the inclusion of ‘Big Food’, including names like PepsiCo who were invited to the ‘Fireside Chat’ as part of the pre-summit in Rome.

Of course, food companies are an essential part of the food system. Indeed, if the Summit is first engaged in analyzing the root causes of the syndrome (synergistic epidemic) – malnutrition, obesity and climate change – the Summit has identified corporate density, neglect and unbridled energy as the primary causes of policy inaction.

There is no doubt that corporations will have to make radical changes as part of the changes proposed by the Summit. But they won’t do it themselves and they certainly won’t do it as part of a comfortable fireside chat.

Yes, it will take dialogue, but to date this record is bad. In many global and national places, instead of being “part of the conversation,” there is widely documented academic evidence that large food companies are trying to shape results in their favor: voluntary measures out of control and empty promises (such as packet labels) and taxation (such as soda). Tax) which has been proven to be the most effective in reducing the damage to unhealthy, highly and over-processed foods.

Discussions on such issues have been reduced, as well as the environmental impact of such products as part of the Summit process. To avoid the discomfort of big food with the most unhealthy and unstable foods?

UN agencies and their staff are well aware of such issues but have been pressured to “come to the table” with companies they know are more interested in driving shareholder value than contributing to stability and public health.

Such companies have a history of unethical marketing of unhealthy foods to children, or have been persuaded by poor mothers not to breastfeed. Fortunately, there are conflicts of interest rules and protocols to protect the day-to-day work of UN agencies so that they can fulfill their public orders without such unethical interference.

As part of our own contribution to the Summit Plan and to help overcome such criticisms, the two of us led an ad hoc committee that focused on the Summit’s own ‘engagement policy’. We also wrote a letter to the Secretary-General of the United Nations and to the leadership of the Summit, stating that the Conference only follows the rules of conflict of interest of the United Nations and should be transparent about who was involved in the formation of the Summit and why.

Our letter was initially signed by 100 individuals and international organizations on five continents, ranging from Ghanaian dieticians to researchers at Save the Children and the International Food Policy Research Institute.

The UN’s own special correspondent on the right to food was an early supporter and due to popular demand, including the American Heart Association and co-author of this opinion article, an additional0 additional signatories were added when we reopened the letter. -Director of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (currently the Director General of the Zero Hunger Institute in Brazil).

But from the leadership of the summit itself, there is nothing in the answer.

You may ask who really cares about these UN summits? We do and everyone else should. Such summits set the scene for national action, they determine the types of future funding for the United Nations and bilateral aid agencies, they give rise to decades of debate on issues raised, and if not well thought out, they provide excellent sounding cover for stability.

Behind the multiple battles in this advantageous global debate, there are some real problems that will play out in multiple ways in each country facing the global food and climate emergency and the inequalities they cause, which has made it even more crude. By the Kovid epidemic.

What we’ve seen ahead of this week’s summit is the many “nutrition-washing” and thousands of proposals that reflect the voices of well-to-do people and little (if any) proposals to end hunger and other forms of malnutrition are political priorities for governments around the world.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ final speech could turn it around for a change, but only if he chooses the paperwork on sensitivity when resolving contentious issues, as UN leaders do not want to do.

If you haven’t yet, get involved even after the September 23rd summit. This war will involve your own country as it will face these multiple food and climate crises and policymakers will face numerous influences on policy guidance in response. All future UN processes should be governed by a general rule determined by the precedents of past UN organizations and international conferences where conflicts of interest have been taken seriously. This will set the standard for national debate around the world, where the real work begins.

Nick Nisbet is a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Development Studies; Leslie Howe is an associate professor of urban and regional planning at the University of Michigan; And Graziano da Silva Former Director General of FAO (UN Food and Agriculture Organization) and Director General of Zero Hunger Institute. Nick Nisbet is based in Brighton, UK, Leslie Hoye, Michigan, USA and Graziano da Silva of SP Campinas, Brazil.

Footnote: The UN Food Systems Summit, scheduled for Thursday, September 2, will be a full-fledged virtual event during the week of the UN General Assembly.

According to the United Nations, the summit will “serve as a historic opportunity to empower all people to use the power of the food system to help us recover from the Kovid-1 pandemic epidemic and to put us back on track to achieve all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).” In the year. “

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

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