The Pre-Summit for the United Nations Food Systems Summit 2021 slated for September in New York recently concluded. The three-day event was held in Rome, Italy from July 26 to 28, and was attended by interested participants both physically and virtually.
The pre-summit is what the UN refers to as the “People’s Summit” since it brings together “youth, farmers, indigenous peoples, civil society, researchers, private sector, policy leaders and ministers of agriculture, environment, health, nutrition and finance, among other participants.” (Read: Your Ultimate Guide to Becoming a Certified Plant Parent)
“The event aims to deliver the latest evidence-based and scientific approaches to food systems transformation from around the world, launch a set of new commitments through coalitions of action and mobilize new financing and partnerships,” the UN said on their website.
Aggravated food inequality
The UN Food Systems Summit and the pre-summit would also like to “promote human rights for all and ensure the most marginalized groups have an opportunity to participate in, contribute to and benefit from the Summit process.”
However, this goal has been greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Caritas Internationalis said that the health crisis has aggravated food inaccessibility and inequality.
According to the Catholic organization, the pandemic has worsened the already existing inequality in food accessibility, which can lead to years more of people experiencing malnutrition and food insecurity.
And data supports this–around 161 million more individuals experienced hunger in 2020 than the previous year. 3 billion people also can’t afford to eat healthily given that the pandemic has caused companies to lay off employees and businesses to close down.
“[The world is] seriously off track to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030,” says UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
Women in Agriculture
With this in mind, Caritas also called for ‘fairer food systems’. They said that to improve food security, a review of the supply chain must be done “in favor of local markets.” They added that traditional agriculture, agroecology, and responsible food consumption must be promoted to improve food security.
On top of these, women should be involved in the agricultural processes. “Women are part of the agricultural sector, and they are responsible for 60 to 80% of food production in the developing countries,” says Caritas Internationalis Secretary-General Aloysius John.
He says that women aren’t given enough opportunities in agriculture–lack of access to lands, production resources, and seeds capital, are some of the things he mentioned.
According to John, women in agriculture must be helped out so that the supply chain can improve, and we can be a step closer towards food security.