World leaders urged to focus on food for progress on climate, COVID, health and poverty

World leaders gathered in Cornwall in the UK for the G7 meeting this weekend had a packed schedule. COVID-19 recovery, economic security, migration and health were all on the agenda, alongside what was billed as ‘meaningful action’ on climate as the groundwork is laid for the COP 26 climate conference in November, which will also be held on British shores.  

According to Ruth Richardson, Executive Director of the Global Alliance for the Future of Food, one factor connects all of these issues: the food system. “If you want to make progress on climate, pandemic recovery, health, poverty, and importantly, fighting the risk of future pandemics, food systems are what connect all of these challenges,” ​she suggested. “Global solutions all start with food systems transformation.​”

The G7 took place just months before the first ever United Nations Food Systems Summit, which aims to set the stage for a ‘decade of action’ to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. During the Summit, we can expect to see the launch of actions aimed at delivering progress on the SGDs. This will be followed up by COP 26, which will set the agenda to move to a net-zero footing in line with the Science Based Targets.

All of this relies on healthier, more sustainable food systems, according to Richardson, who argued that world challenges need to be met with ‘holistic’ and ‘systemic action’.

“In this moment of global recovery, the time has passed for issue silos.”

GettyImages-Vector G7 flags

World leaders urged to act on food system transformation / Pic: GettyImages-Vector

COVID-19 spotlights role of food system in public health

Richardson told FoodNavigator that greater emphasis must ‘absolutely’ be placed on food system transformation. Current events have underlined the link between the food system, environmental sustainability and population health, she suggested.

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