Food Security: New financing, partnerships in focus as 2021 UN Food Systems Pre-Summit begins in Rome

*Heads of State and delegates from over 100 countries are gathering in Rome from Monday, July 26 to discuss and deliver the latest evidence-based, scientific approaches to urgently transform the global food systems to tackle hunger, poverty, climate change and inequality amid a global pandemic

Gbenga Kayode | ConsumerConnect

Farmers’ significant contributions, especially the unnoticed efforts women food producers and agriprenuers make to support greater human resilience against shocks as the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic are receiving global attention and commendation as the three-day 2021 UN Food Systems Pre-Summit kicks off from Monday, July 26, 2021, in Rome, Italy.

ConsumerConnect reports the UN Food Systems Pre-Summit attracts Heads of State and delegates from all over the world to gather to discuss ways to transform food systems in order to tackle hunger, poverty, climate change and inequality.

UN Food Systems Pre-Summit begins Monday in Rome   Photo: Amina J. Mohammed

According to the UN, there are four pillars of a food system, including the interrelationship of agricultural systems, their economic, social, cultural, and technological support systems, and systems of food distribution and consumption.

The global body disclosed it appreciates farmers, especially women and indigenous people, who work tirelessly to put food on consumers’ tables worldwide, when its top officials visited the dozens of stalls already set up in the vicinity of the UN event’s venue.

Earlier, Nigerian-born Ms. Amina J. Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of UN, had met with women producers at a farmers’ market Saturday, July 24, in Circo Massimo, Rome, ahead of the Food Systems Pre-Summit beginning from Monday.

The global in a statement issued Saturday said the UN Deputy Secretary-General and other government officials toured the market to meet with farmers before paying tribute to producers, particularly women, for their central role in food systems worldwide.

“Understanding their needs and the challenges they face helps ensure that emerging solutions are fit for purpose,” Mrs. Mohammed.

Addressing unnoticed female farmers’ contributions

Women have been described as the “nucleus of our global food system”, but their value is undermined by the patriarchy.

However, as the world’s attention focuses on redesigning food systems to deliver safe and healthy food, livelihoods, and environments for all humans, it is equally important to ensure that the human rights of half of its producers and consumers – women – are not left behind, Independent UK report said.

Ms. Amina J. Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of United Nations, meets with women producers at a farmers’ market Saturday, July 24, in Circo Massimo, Rome   Photo: UN

The report stressed that access to safe and nutritious food is a human right.

“We must then, ask ourselves why the rights of hundreds of millions of women who work within food systems – including their right to equal acknowledgement, access to resources, and the opportunity for empowerment –have long been limited by patriarchal systems,” report stated.

It said that women often take responsibility for household nutrition and are also directly involved in raising livestock and tending to crops.

And this is not even counted in the burden of unpaid care, of which women carry out two-thirds worldwide, three times more than men.

Farmers are the lifeblood of our food systems ─UN Deputy chief Amina Mohammed

In appreciating farmers, especially the female ones and agripreneurs, UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed, joined by Agnes Kalibata, the Special Envoy for the Food Systems Summit, visited the stalls of women producers, addressed the market, commended and welcomed two Food Systems Heroes on stage to share their stories.

The visit specifically aimed to raise awareness of the essential, yet often unnoticed, contribution that women producers make as well as highlight the urgent need to support greater resilience against shocks like the damaging COVID-19 pandemic, said the UN in a statement.

UN Deputy Secretary-General welcomes Heads of State and delegates to Food Systems Pre-Summit Monday, in Rome 

In her remarks during the UN officials’ visit to the farmers’ market Saturday, in Circo Massimo, Rome, Elizabeth Nsimadala, President of Pan-African Farmers Organisations (PAFO), said: “Women farmers and ‘agripreneurs’ are often held back through a lack of resources and access to information.

“Supporting women with the same skills, tools and training is a failsafe way to improve food systems.”

ConsumerConnect had reported that UN Food Systems Pre-Summit, beginning Monday, July 26 would bring delegates from more than 100 countries in a hybrid event to deliver the latest evidence-based and scientific approaches from around the world.

The event is also expected to launch a set of new commitments through coalitions of action and mobilise new financing and partnerships.

The UN Foods Systems Summit noted that the forum would bring together youth, farmers, indigenous peoples, civil society, researchers, the private sector, policy leaders and ministers of agriculture, environment, health, nutrition and finance, among other key players.

The conference also will prepare the stage for the culminating global event in September or October this year by bringing together diverse actors to leverage the power of food systems to deliver progress on all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) across the world.

Key facts for discussion at UN Food Systems Summit

Hunger

As many as 811 million people went hungry in 2020, with an estimated 118 million joining the food insecure

Around 660 million people may still face hunger in 2030 – 30 million more than had the pandemic not occurred

In 2020, around one in five children under five were affected by stunting caused by malnutrition

Around three billion people are unable to afford healthy diets

Climate change and biodiversity loss

Food systems contribute an estimated one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions

Deforestation and climate change means the Amazon rainforest now emits more carbon than it stores

Food systems are the greatest driver of biodiversity loss, responsible for up to 80% of losses and around 25% of species under threat of extinction

Poverty

Almost 100 million people found themselves in poverty as a result of the pandemic

Global unemployment is expected to reach 205 million in 2022, from 187 million in 2019

Shortcomings in food systems account for an estimated $12 trillion in hidden costs

Food loss and waste

Around a third of all food produced is lost or wasted every year

If food loss and waste were a country, it would be the third most emitting country in the world

Reducing food waste would cost an estimated $30 billion, but the potential return could be as much as $455 billion.

Recall that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres announced the 2021 UN Food Systems Summit, on World Food Day October 2020 as a part of the Decade of Action for delivery on the SDGs by 2030.

It was gathered the aim of the Summit is to deliver progress on all 17 of the SDGs through a food systems approach, leveraging the interconnectedness of food systems to global challenges such as hunger, climate change, poverty and inequality.

The event is being held at the Headquarters of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations, where the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS) also takes place.

The FAO is a specialised agency that leads international efforts at tackling hunger and improving nutrition and food security around the world.

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