Creating sustainable food systems, the great challenge – Diario Responsable

A few days after the SBMadrid 21 sustainability benchmark meeting, promoted by the Quiero sustainability platform, of which Diario Responsable is a media partner, we interviewed Luis Carranza, president of the Executive Board of the World Food Program, who reflected on how it will affect the climate change in the world diet.

Since February 2021, Luis Carranza has been president of the Executive Board of the World Food Program (WFP). WFP is the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a path to peace, stability and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of change climate. For his work, WFP was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2020.

Responsible Newspaper: What great lessons about food in the world can be drawn from COP26? and How will climate change affect global food?

Luis Carranza: According to the recently held World Environment Summit – COP26, one of the most serious threats to humanity is climate change and the loss of diversity. Natural disasters (hurricanes, storms), droughts and forest fires, are increasingly followed and prolonged, having devastating effects on food production worldwide, particularly for developing countries, where the effects of climate change they have resulted in an increase in poverty, hunger and malnutrition.

One of the results of COP26 is related to the balance that must exist between adaptation, mitigation and financing. We know that agriculture-related activities not only feed the world’s population, but also account for a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions. However, countries must adapt to protect their communities and natural habitats. Given that the climate is changing and will continue to change even as emissions are reduced, countries affected by climate change must take decisive action to protect and restore their ecosystems, as well as build defenses, warning systems and infrastructure and make their agriculture more resilient. .

The close relationship between climate change and food production is based on the fact that food production depends on and impacts on ecosystem services and biodiversity. Therefore, it is necessary to talk about food systems and how to achieve their sustainability both economically and socially and environmentally. To better understand the above, it is first necessary to know what is meant by food systems. These are the chain of processes from production to distribution to consumption, which must ensure that there is enough nutritious food available for everyone, whether they live in urban or rural areas and are poor households. The challenge is to do so while minimizing any negative impact on the environment.

According to the UN, the global food system suffers from three ailments: First, it does insufficient work to overcome hunger. Second, it doesn’t prevent malnutrition, obesity, and the problem of unhealthy diets. And third, it contributes to endangering planet Earth. Therefore, it must be ensured that food systems adapt to climate change and are resilient enough to continue producing and feeding people. This is why Special Envoy for the UN Food Systems Summit, Dr. Agnes Kalibata, has called for the UN Climate Change Conference to significantly increase attention to food and agriculture. .

Climate change does affect food production and food production also contributes to climate change when it is not sustainable, destroying forests or ecosystems for the benefit of agriculture or when it emits greenhouse gases. For this reason, subsequent POPs should continue to pay increasing attention to this interrelationship between climate change and food systems.

DR: How to move towards resilient supply chains?

LC: From the perspective of food supply and distribution, the relationship between rural and urban settings must be considered. In the first, where obviously food is generally produced and the second, where there is a market where said food is placed. To strengthen the food supply chain from rural to urban, the risks faced, particularly in production areas, must be considered. Therefore, it must be planned taking into account natural disasters and the necessary adaptation to cope with these effects. On the other hand, the ways and how food is transported, as well as logistics, must also be planned, with the aim of reducing carbon emissions through the use of alternative fuels or greener means of transport.

Such planning could even be linked to the need to seek or improve connections with nearby peri-urban and rural areas. Those connections could include the development of communal or municipal markets that function as logistics hubs for retailers and wholesalers, seeking to create an environment conducive to the informal sector food system.

DR: What should be the strategy of the West to avoid famines?

LC: According to the World Food Program, hunger around the world is on the rise, as some 270 million people are being affected by acute or severe food insecurity, mainly due to human-caused conflicts, climate change and climate change. economic recessions. In addition, the COVID19 pandemic has also contributed to the escalation of hunger in the world, increasing the number of people in severe food insecurity.

This number of affected people has been increasing since the UN Sustainable Development Goals – SDG – were approved. Indeed, the main objective of SDG 2 is to end hunger and ensure access for all to nutritious and healthy food all year round. If recent trends continue, the number of people affected by hunger will exceed 840 million people by 2030, according to the United Nations report on the State of Food and Nutrition Security in the World.

To deal with this situation, the United Nations strategy to achieve sustainable development goal 2 must go through doubling agricultural production and ensuring the sustainability of food production systems and making agriculture more resilient and sustainable. They respect the environment and have the capacity to adapt to climate change.

Likewise, it is very important to increase investments in rural infrastructure and other actions to improve agricultural production capacity in developing countries. Finally, measures must be taken to ensure access to food commodity markets in order to avoid volatility in food prices.

Although the above recommendations are derived from SDG 2, it is important to highlight the role that the most developed countries have in combating hunger worldwide. The OECD, for example, is helping its member countries to identify how they can interact with governments or other partners at the country level to strengthen and support national policies when they are weak or do not support resources and actions essential for food security. miniature of food security and nutrition.

Clearly, any effort to end hunger requires sufficient resources to achieve these goals. Developed countries and the donor community should help developing countries create sustainable food systems, improve access conditions to international food markets and, above all, build resilience against the effects of climate change, among others.

Unfortunately, conflicts, climate change and economic recessions are variables that are very present and that, if to this we add the COVID19 pandemic, it will really require an unprecedented worldwide effort and concertation to achieve the goal of ending hunger in the world.

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Creating sustainable food systems, the great challenge – Diario Responsable