Dubbed a "Peoples Summit", it is open to unprecedented engagement in every country, from every sector, and every constituency. It is also dubbed a "Solutions Summit" with a focus on action. I lead one of the five thematic areas or "Action Tracks" (ATs) on "Ensuring access to safe and nutritious foods for all". There are four other ATs, a Science Group, a Champions Group, 4 cross-cutting Levers and the over 100 Summit Dialogues to date.
Until every child in the world goes to bed nourished properly, we cannot rest. Our food systems are moving us in the wrong directions: hunger levels are rising, undernutrition levels are at severe risk of rising, obesity is increasing, we are off track to meet climate targets, biodiversity is being squandered, not enough decent jobs are being created and community resilience is being undermined.
I love academic papers that use evidence to try and shift stubborn policy perspectives, especially when those policy perspectives seem to be holding back development and hunger reduction. So, it is no surprise that I like the recent paper by Liverpool-Tasie et al. (2020) on persistent myths that are held about African food supply chains.
The calendar is about to turn the page over to a new year and that new year brings hope for a world currently gripped by a pandemic that has wreaked havoc for months. COVID-19 has made 2020 the year we wish we could forget but never will. With the roll-out of
vaccines, the end of the pandemic and its related global disruptions seem to be in sight. But not everyone will be able to breathe a sigh of relief.
As we draw to the end of 2020, COVID-19 rages on; hunger numbers are on the increase; and we are not on track to meet the 1.5C Paris target to limit global warming. According to the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 Dashboard, 72 million people have been infected with the novel coronavirus and 1.7 million have died. And counting. According to the IMF, the measures taken to combat the virus have led to GDP declines of around 4-10%, depending on the country.
Ensuring markets provide enough nutritious and safe food to those living in poverty in low income countries is an urgent priority. Many in such markets across the world lack access to affordable foods that are safe and rich in the nutrients needed to sustain life and livelihoods.
In 2021 we nutrition champions are blessed with not one, but two summits to advance nutrition outcomes. The UN Food Systems Summit (FSS) will take place in September in New York and the Nutrition for Growth Summit will be held in Tokyo in December.
As COVID-19 continues to impact millions of lives and jobs around the world, it is also making our global food system increasingly vulnerable. The poverty, malnutrition and food insecurity that were already challenges before the pandemic – with 820 million people chronically hungry in 2018 – are set to grow as a result of it.
"Biblical". That was the word that the world’s press needed to (finally) run stories about the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on food and nutrition. Thank you to the Executive Director of the World Food Programme, David Beasley, for the turn of phrase.
With the spread of COVID-19 we find ourselves plunged into a global health crisis. By most accounts we are only at the early stages of the pandemic so it is going to reshape economy, society and politics, probably permanently.