In an era marked by volatility and uncertainty, the world prepares to feed a growing population with a declining resource base. There is certainly enough data to confirm the above statement, which serves as the opening to the Sustainable Food System policy paper shared at the recent Business 20 Summit held in Buenos Aires. In addition to the data, though, events happening every day in our own lives highlight the urgent need for us to transform our current food systems to sustainable ones.
The future of food continues to be one of the most pressing global challenges, with malnutrition profoundly affecting every country. Around 800 million people are still undernourished, billions of people face vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and problems of overweight and obesity are growing fast and fuelling an epidemic of diet-related non-communicable diseases. With such scale and complexity, countries are trying to figure out: where do we start?
March is #nutritionmonth in Canada and it’s exciting to follow all the conversations around the limitless potential of food to fuel our bodies, heal what ails us, and bring people together. This month provides a wonderful wealth of information encouraging Canadians to ‘Unlock the Potential of Food’ through events, recipes, factsheets and much more – find out more here. As we celebrate #nutritionmonth here at home, it’s a good time to ponder the global state of nutrition. How far are we in the journey to achieving the global goal to “end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture” by 2030?
The perennial leaders who have used their experience to lead us are increasingly out of step in a world of grassroot and global movement spread by the digital revolution- and led by a new generation.
The youth of today are leading the charge for better world and they will be leaders tomorrow. It’s time we provided them with the expertise and institutional knowledge to carry out the plan we’ve built to sustain our planet through 2030 – the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
Achieving the SDGs is not an easy task, nor a quick one; it requires an intergenerational approach precisely because the actions we take today will affect the lives of future generations. For this reason, over the next 13 years and beyond, young people the world over will need to lead our efforts to achieve the SDGs. They will also bear the consequences of inaction, and as such have the biggest stake in the success of the SDGs.
In this, the younger generations have somewhat of a leg up on the current leading generations. They are technologically savvier, always ready to learn more, keen to activate new solutions and update their understanding to move the world forward. They are unburdened by bureaucracy or the mantra of “this is the way it’s always been done.” But they need the knowledge, skills and tools that will make them successful.
So how do we prepare young people to thrive in this increasingly fragile, vulnerable world, and help them acquire the skills to achieve the SDGs?
Education about sustainable development is imperative. And it requires:
- First, a deeper understanding of the critical challenges across economics, climate change, health, education, gender issues, human rights, biodiversity, agriculture, urban development and many other realms;
- Second, the ability to identify how each Sustainable Development Goal impacts the others;
- Third, the ability to take this overarching, global knowledge about the past, present and future of sustainable development and bring it to their own hometowns and local communities, taking global issues and translating them into regional, national and local contexts;
- Fourth, combining theoretical knowledge with real, practical applications by acquiring practical skills of management, communication and implementation;
Universities are beginning to grapple with the complexities of teaching sustainable development, but traditional institutional structures and limited resources can make it hard for them to offer programs that combine all these aspects.
Initiative to educate and empower young people in a unique way will be required to reach our young leaders of tomorrow and prepare them for the future.
Forests cover 30.6% of the Earth’s land area (nearly 4 billion hectares) and are essential to human well-being and sustainable development. An estimated 1.6 billion people – 25% of the global population – depend on forests for subsistence, livelihood, employment and income generation.
However, the role that forestry plays in food security and human nutrition remains under-researched, and under-appreciated by policymakers. Very often, in the context of halting deforestation, we hear “protect forests, do agriculture better” – but where is the role for forestry itself? Despite the crucial contribution of forests to Food Security and Nutrition, deforestation and forest degradation continue in many regions of the world. Greater policy focus on sustainable forestry will help strengthen food security and promote nutritionally adequate diets.
I wish to congratulate the United Nations Committee on Food Security (CFS) on having selected forestry as a key issue to work on as promoting sustainable forest management as essential to delivering the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Last week, I participated in the debated conclusion of CFS policy recommendations for all forest stakeholders that will – when implemented – have a significant and positive impact on the forestry sector and forest-dependent communities.
In my view, some of the key highlights from the policy recommendations were;
First, investing in forestry research should be a global priority. Establishing and promoting best practices with regards to forestry and agroforestry will depend upon the availability of a solid knowledge base.
Secondly, It is also fundamental that science-based technical support, extension services, integrated forestry sustainability programs are available to those working in this sector, particularly smallholders and forest-dependent communities.
We need leadership on governance to ensure that the policy recommendation get implemented and advances reach those who need it the most.
To conclude, I strongly urge member states to explore, and implement all available solutions for enhancing forest cover, and the private sector, with its experience, technology and knowledge stand ready to assist.
Throughout the Sustainable Development Goals process, the International Agri-Food Network has been engaged in the negotiations. As part of the Global Business Alliance, we have placed a priority on the 5 P’s: People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace and Partnership.
The SDGs place People-centred approaches at the core of the development aspirations of the UN. Agriculture programs are needed that are ‘farmer-centred and knowledge-based’ so that the full potential of farmers, both men and women can be harnessed. Farmers need access to land, water, knowledge, inputs, and credit to grow a crop and functioning markets to sell their products.
The private sector plays a central role in sustainable development and human prosperity and serves as an essential partner. In fact, a recent PwC study indicated that 92% of businesses are aware of the SDGs, 71% of businesses are planning how they will respond to SDGs and 13% have already identified the tools they need to do so.
The Private Sector Mechanism with more than 100 delegates will attend CFS44 in Rome, Italy, from October 9-13 to discuss the potential of agriculture and food through the SDGs. Science, technology and farming are vital to advance the SDGs.
I am personally looking forward to hearing from farmers, policy makers, private sector and researchers on how through trade, partnerships, and agricultural research, we can make advances in food security, nutrition and sustainable agriculture
Learn more about CFS44 here.
Milk is considered one of the first foods, with it emerging into the agriculture scene nearly 10,000 years ago. Since then, it has been an integral part of everyday life particularly in the growth and development of children. Did you know that an eight-ounce glass of milk contains the same amount of calcium equal to twelve servings of whole grains, ten cups of raw spinach or six servings of legumes? It is a little-known fact that milk is the only product on which a human could survive wholly on as it contains every nutrient your body needs.
Personally, the nutritional benefits of milk, for both my children and me, make it a very important part of our everyday life. Milk has been a part of my diet since I was a child, my favourite memory about milk was waking up every morning as a kid in India and waiting for our local dairy farmer to deliver fresh milk. To this day, that same local dairy farmer delivers milk. As a matter of fact, India is the largest producer of milk in the world.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation declared June 1st as World Milk Day in 2001. This year will mark the 16th annual World Milk Day. A day created to connect the many facets of the dairy industry and promote the importance of milk as a global food. This day works in conjunction with National Dairy Month, which has been celebrated every year in June since 1937.
I welcome you to raise a glass in your community and join myself, the Emerging team, and the world in celebrating World Milk Day. Join the movement by registering an event or raise a glass by joining our social media Thunderclap.
One-third of all food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted, and it costs around $940 billion dollars each year to the global economy. Food Loss and Waste happens through the entire value chain, but it is greater nearer “the fork” in the developed regions and nearer “the farm” in developing regions. Moreover, FLW contributes around 8% of the global GHG emission which in the context of scale, would be the third largest contributor of GHG behind China and USA.
I recently participated in the Global Dialogue Series on Food Loss and Waste hosted by the UN Global Compact. The series are online discussions, informing the development of short briefs designed to support business engagement in support of food security, nutrition, and sustainable agriculture in the context of the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goal 12.3 –Reduce per capita global Food Waste and Loss by 50% by 2030.
The invited panel for the series on FLW were stakeholders from the UN Global Compact, the Food and Agriculture Agency (FAO), and the World Resource Institute (WRI). The private sector was engaged as well with participation from Tesco, Campbell, and Danone who are leading the charge on FLW through concrete strategies and actions.
Addressing this major issue calls for more sustainable productions and consumption model. Business has a critical role to play in this regards. By being transparent, setting targets, measuring waste, prioritizing and implementing corrective actions, increasing education & awareness, and forming partnerships, businesses can have a tremendous positive impact on the elimination of Food Loss and Waste.
After spending the last 10 years meeting the needs of consumers and clients in the Food Service industry, my first visit to the United Nations at their headquarters in New York to participate in Food and Agriculture Organizations (FAO) conversation on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was stimulating and inspiring.
We are facing some of the most important decisions related to our collective future on one of the most rudimentary pillars of our society, food & and its security. The fight to achieve food security, malnutrition and end hunger is one of the greatest challenges facing the world today and in the coming years. Globally, close to one billion people are undernourished and a further billion are overweight or obese.
Rising populations, diminishing resources and deteriorating environments only raise the stakes. In a world where one third of the food we produce is thrown away, we cannot help but ask ourselves the question: Could food wastage and hunger be an expression of the same problem?
Navigating through so many countries, regions, cultures, environments and needs is not an easy task by any means. However, considering the urgency and magnitude of the issues, the UN member countries, in late 2015, signed off on 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that would provide the impetus to address these global challenges, including three Goals (2, 3 and 12) focusing on Food Security, Health and Waste, respectively.
The emphasis now must be on building a firm and durable foundation for the engagement and participation of all stakeholders, including the private sector, academia, civil society and non-governmental organizations, in the process of taking effective actions for the implementation of the Goals. Agreed targets and standardized measurement mechanisms are fundamental and critical to the firm and durable foundation that we seek to underpin the success of these efforts.
Our world is digitally and socially very connected. However, awareness of this looming crisis and its criticality is relatively negligible. It’s time to activate our networks and use this opportunity of the SDGs to generate awareness that can translate into tangible actions.
I feel excited and energized to be part of a team at Emerging Ag that is as passionate as I am about encouraging entities in the agriculture and food sector - global, national and local - to drive this change and be active stakeholders in securing our future on food for generations to come.