Monday, March 8, 2021

Hungry for change: an open letter to European governments

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In 2020, the complete world knew what it was to be hungry. Millions of individuals went with out sufficient to eat, with essentially the most determined now going through famine. At the identical time, isolation took on a brand new which means, during which the lonely and most distant had been disadvantaged of human contact once they most wanted it, whereas the numerous victims of COVID-19 had been starved of air. For all of us, the human expertise fell far wanting satisfying even essentially the most fundamental wants.
The pandemic has offered a style of a future on the limits of existence, the place individuals are bereft, governments are stymied and economies wither. But it has additionally fuelled an unprecedented world urge for food for change to stop this from changing into our long-term actuality.
For all of the obstacles and challenges we face within the weeks and months forward, I begin 2021 with an incredible sense of optimism and hope that the growling in our stomachs and the craving in our hearts can turn out to be the collective roar of defiance, of dedication and of revolution to make this yr higher than final, and the longer term brighter than the previous.
It begins with meals, essentially the most primal type of sustenance. It is meals that determines the well being and prospects of almost 750 million Europeans and counting. It is meals that employs some 10 million in European agriculture alone and provides the promise of financial progress and growth. And it’s meals that we’ve got discovered impacts our very ecosystems, right down to the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the local weather we get pleasure from, come rain or shine.
Even earlier than the pandemic, 2021 was destined to be a “super-year” for meals, a yr during which meals manufacturing, consumption and disposal lastly acquired the requisite world consideration because the UN convenes the world’s first Food Systems Summit. But with two years’ price of progress now compressed into the subsequent 12 months, 2021 takes on a renewed significance.
After a yr of world paralysis, attributable to the shock of COVID-19, we should channel our anxieties, our fear, our starvation, and most of all our energies into motion, and get up to the truth that by remodeling meals programs to be more healthy, extra sustainable and inclusive, we will get better from the pandemic and restrict the affect of future crises.
The change we’d like would require all of us to suppose and act otherwise as a result of each considered one of us has a stake and a job in functioning meals programs. But now, greater than ever, we should look to our nationwide leaders to chart the trail ahead by uniting farmers, producers, scientists, hauliers, grocers, and shoppers, listening to their difficulties and insights, and pledging to enhance every facet of the meals system for the betterment of all.
Policymakers should take heed to Europe’s 10 million farmers as custodians of the sources that produce our meals, and align their wants and challenges with the views of environmentalists and entrepreneurs, cooks and restaurant house owners, docs and nutritionists to develop nationwide commitments.
We enter 2021 with wind in our sails. More than 50 international locations have joined the European Union in participating with the Food Systems Summit and its 5 precedence pillars, or Action Tracks, which reduce throughout diet, poverty, local weather change, resilience and sustainability. And greater than two dozen international locations have appointed a nationwide convenor to host a sequence of country-level dialogues within the months forward, a course of that can underpin the Summit and set the agenda for the Decade of Action to 2030.
But that is only the start. With utmost urgency, I name on all UN Member States to hitch this world motion for a greater, extra fulfilling future, beginning with the transformation of meals programs. I urge governments to offer the platform that opens a dialog and guides international locations in direction of tangible, concrete change. And I encourage everybody with hearth of their bellies to become involved with the Food Systems Summit course of this yr and begin the journey of transitioning to extra inclusive and sustainable meals programs.
The Summit is a “People’s Summit” for everybody, and its success depends on everybody in every single place getting concerned via taking part in Action Track surveys, becoming a member of the web Summit Community, and signing as much as turn out to be Food Systems Heroes who’re dedicated to enhancing meals programs in their very own communities and constituencies.
Too typically, we are saying it’s time to act and make a distinction, then proceed as earlier than. But it could be unforgivable if the world was allowed to neglect the teachings of the pandemic in our desperation to return to regular life. All the writing on the wall means that our meals programs want reform now. Humanity is hungry for this modification. It is time to sate our urge for food.

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