‘We have to be brave’ demanded Iceland’s prime minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir at the close of this week’s UN food systems event in Rome. A precursor to September’s main summit in New York, it brought together leaders from more than 100 countries, with debates held around the complex challenges and solutions that will define the future of food.
The UN event comes at a critical moment for food systems; responsible for one in 10 of the global population going hungry and one-third of all greenhouse gas emissions, they are threatening the survival of people and planet. Transforming them is the only option, but it need not be a sisyphean task to do so, as the Gordian knot strangling food systems can be undone.
What is needed is the bravery Katrín Jakobsdóttir is calling for, along with will power at all levels to take actions that ensure nature positive and people positive outcomes. Nations are making strides to achieve this in forming their national strategies ahead of the New York summit, ‘with 145 countries having already convened national dialogues.
“There is extraordinarily inspiring momentum,” said Dr David Nabarro, Senior Advisor to the Special Envoy for the Summit Dialogues. “The priorities from national pathways were shared by many Ministers in Rome: they point to the need for urgent, inclusive, people-centred and nature-positive systems change that is based on the best science and reflects local and national realities within a global context.”
As talk focused on how these pathways will take shape, the UN Deputy Secretary General, Amina J. Mohammed, reminded delegates of the ’emerging global coalitions that would champion further progress’.
“Anything we do must always include those at the centre of our food systems: smallholder farmers, indigenous peoples and especially women and youth,” Mohammed said during her closing remarks. “Just as food brings us together as cultures and communities, it can bring us together around solutions. But what is clear is there is no one-size fits all solution. Our diversity is our strength and reflects the complexity of our world.”
All eyes are now on the announcements that will be made at the full summit this autumn.