United Nations Food Summit 2021 Pre-Summit to tackle food systems and inequality

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AUTHOR: Stef Bottinelli
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The United Nations Food Summit 2021 Pre-Summit is taking place 26-28 of July 2021 in Rome ahead of The United Nations Food Summit 2021, which will take place in New York City in September alongside the UN General Assembly.

Described as a ‘hybrid event’ as it takes place both online and in person, the three day summit will be hosted by UN Secretary-General António Guterres and Mario Draghi, the Prime Minister of Italy. Dubbed ‘The People’s Summit’ the event is open to everyone who wishes to attend and it brings together young people, farmers, indigenous people, civil society, researchers, private sector, policy leaders and ministers of agriculture, environment, health, nutrition and finance. The Pre-Summit 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 mobilise new financing and partnerships’ through fostering engagement, and offer solutions to revaluate the current food systems.

As outlined by the Summit’s manifesto, the key points tackled at the event are:

  1. Bring together the best ideas from all of the Summit’s structures while also identifying priorities and distilling a common vision that will lie at the heart of the UN Secretary-General’s statement of action at the Summit.
  2. Serve as a pledging moment for governments, businesses, civil society and other players to announce new commitments to support food systems transformation and advance game-changing solutions through multi-stakeholder collaboration.
  3. Provide Heads of State and other public and private leaders an opportunity to feature and advance their commitments to action, set a tone of leadership and bold ambition, and inspire the engagement of many others ahead of the Summit.
  4. Promote a global discourse and narrative that puts food systems at the centre of global efforts to achieve the SDGs, with vast virtual engagement and a coordinated advocacy and communications campaign in all regions of the world. This discourse will highlight the importance of food systems for progress on climate, development finance, health, human rights and other global priorities.
  5. Foster a sense of community by bringing together countries, stakeholders, and constituencies in all parts of food systems from all parts of the world.
  6. Mobilise public and private investments to drive food systems transformation and prioritise game-changing solutions.

Topics discussed at the Pre-Summit include the challenge of meeting climate change and diversity goals, the role of youth in changing the food system, how finance can help deliver a better food system, gender equality within the food systems, food and the health of people and the planet, living income and wages in the food system and scaling up school meals.

The event will also discuss how to get back on track to deliver the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, after the United Nations’ annual report The State of Food Security and Nutrition in 2021 highlighted that the timeline of the targets was unrealistic and that the world is moving further away from achieving sustainability and world hunger targets. The UN’s report found that in 2020 811 million people were suffering from malnutrition and hunger, 161M more than the previous year.

Organisations attending the Pre-Summit in Rome include the World Bank, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Food Program (WFP), the Food and Land Use (FOLU) Coalition, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the Global-Hub on Indigenous Peoples’ food systems, European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), Unilever, World Economic Forum, World Food Programme, One Planet Business for Biodiversity and representatives from countries around the world.

The Summit has however already been accused of greenwashing and has received criticisms for not openly tackling the industrial farming and animal consumption issues that largely contribute to environmental damage.

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