What it's all about
The UN Food Summit will be held in New York on the 21st September 2021. There are some key and pressing issues that have come about, not only because of the pandemic but also spikes in climate change extremes highlighted by the earlier meeting in Rome this year.
This meeting is fundamentally focused on having a sustainable source of food and sustainable lifestyle for growing, sourcing, processing and consuming food at a global level. It looks to address the imbalance with regards to the impact on the environment and wildlife with current food production and importantly looks to address hunger. We have a growing population and currently, an unsustainable method of feeding them. Food waste will and a global agricultural agreement will be high on the discussion of topic, highlighting how our cultures movement towards a sustainable diet and sustainable living.
The intention is to bring as many affected representatives from various cultures across the globe to give a fair representation of the current state and importantly, how to address the problem so that we have more fair and sustainable practices for all of us.
What did the Rome meeting teach us?
The meeting in Rome highlighted some hugely important matters… We have a lot of different opinions on what we should do next (more than 2,000 ideas were distilled from a variety of discussions) and we definitely need to look at the most achievable themes that can be tackled and agreed upon at the next summit.
We have a lot of great ideas being put forward but whilst we all work separately, the overall stability and sustainability of what we do will only benefit the wealthy on a short term basis, with the lower lands and less financially affluent countries really taking the hit. It’s no surprise that communities with less money, less access to education and less technology are the worst affected and first hit by extreme circumstances of climate change.
Rome has taught us that a unified approach where everyone is on board and takes part is our best chance of a happier and more prosperous future for all of us.
What do we want to achieve?
This one is pretty easy in terms of what we want but it will be interesting to see what comes out of the meeting. This won’t be another Paris agreement, where we’re looking to attach an element of force to anything decided at the summit, however the idea is that we will have clear pathways going forward and clear actions.
Access to nutritious food for everyone
As I said, these are clear pathways to goals that need implementing. Nutritious food for everyone is a steep ask in isolation but they are separated into action areas. Fundamentally everyone should have access to healthy food without struggle. This is an aim and will be an iterative process but will only be achieved by making a start.
This is one where we can all get involved in and have a strong responsibility to do so. Over 800 million globally suffer from starvation and malnutrition, with overconsumption being a large contributor to the problem. Eating and consuming more sustainably, including energy, transport and fashion is essential. Food loss must be slashed and a circular economy to benefit opportunities for minorities, indigenous communities and the urban poor must be in place.
Nature Positive Production
Optimising environmental resourcing of food will reduce biodiversity. This third objective is to harness the natural ecosystems we have to help support the value of small-scale farmers along the chain and to educate universally so that production doesn’t harm the environment and helps to restore ecosystems and lower loss.
Livelihood and Equality
Objective number 4 also seems like an action we can all make a conscious effort to get involved in. Localising food systems and ensuring there is a more fair trade, encouraging entrepreneurship and enabling the most affected to gain employment and support their communities to do the same is a good balance here. Supporting small businesses and buying fair trade where possible should become much more common place.
This is worthwhile planning for now while we are looking to have everything in place. Resilience is specifically focused on making sure that political, financial and climate changes aren’t affecting the food infrastructure.
Who is responsible?
For the meeting, there are multiple corporations and over 145 governments that are taking part in the discussions, however fundamentally we are all responsible. The actions that are intended to be put into place will be rolled out as soon as is possible if they are agreed to, with governments and smaller holding and companies encouraged to make this roll down to their employees and customers.
We are all responsible and the sooner we get worker together, the more we all benefit from it.
What can we do?
Whilst keeping a keen eye on the findings of this, as well as the sustainable fashion week between 17th and 21st September, it’s important to be aware of what actions we can take in the meantime.
- Make simple food swaps to be more sustainable.
- Look to buy from more local sources
- Minimise your waste – there are plenty of broths and food prep you can do that take no time but save money and are generally are healthier for you!
- Get mobile. Transport emissions really do matter, so if you can drive less and walk more, you’ll feel fitter and save the planet.
- Keep informed. Learning about a sustainable lifestyle doesn’t have to be taxing but the rewards are amazing for you and the environment.
- Pre-loved is where it’s at for clothing. There are plenty of ways to stop the waste involved with textiles.
- Look out for apps like Whywaste, Wasteless – Sell More, Waste Less, Gander, that focus on minimising food waste. We can all make choices that involve consuming and wasting less!