Acting today for a better tomorrow

Acting today for a better tomorrow

November 05, 2020

Acting today for a better tomorrow

From words to action. Major international organizations are pressing for the recently celebrated World Food Day to become the starting point for a real commitment to sustainability

World Food Day, a particularly important event in 2020, the 75th anniversary of the foundation of the United Nations and FAO, the UN Food & Agriculture Organization, was celebrated this year under the slogan “Grow, nourish, sustain. Together.” 2020 is a special year, however, due to the COVID-19 pandemic which, as stated by FAO, “threatens to reverse important milestones achieved in the areas of food security, nutrition and livelihoods.” Last but not least, 2020 marks the start of the Decade of Action to achieve the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. 

What’s the rush?

The time has come to make a commitment to sustainability, taking action guided by the studies and data collected in recent years. “We call on everyone, everywhere, to be part of this effort. Governments, business, communities and individuals. Young and old. So together, we can keep the ambition and the promise of leaving no one behind” said Amina J. Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, in a video message.

As the 2020 version of The Sustainable Development Goals Report  states, many steps have already been taken towards achieving the goals set, but the speed of the actions taken is not yet fast enough to achieve final victory. And there are still many problems to solve, particularly with regard to food systems and the aim of definitively eliminating hunger in the world, guaranteeing safe and sufficient food for all. 

The demand for food is growing all the time among the world population, which is expected to reach 10 billion by 2050. As FAO experts point out, “Unless we transform our food systems, undernourishment and malnutrition will have increased significantly by then.” The figures clearly illustrate the problem we are facing: over 2 billion people currently have no regular access to healthy and sufficient food, and around 135 million are suffering from acute hunger in 55 countries. On the other hand, obesity rates have surged in all countries, whether developed or not, due to unhealthy diets and lifestyles. 

A role for everyone

The food supply chain from farm to fork includes actors that FAO defines as “food heroes”. “They are laborers, fishermen, mountain farmers, foresters, shepherds and farmers from indigenous communities. The world is full of heroes” says a book produced by FAO precisely to make children, parents and teachers more aware of the people behind the products we bring to the table. For example, according to FAO data, there are 800 million family farmers: they manage 75% of agricultural land and produce about 80% of food globally. They are also innovators by definition, often having to adapt their cultivation and production methods to changing external conditions, without stopping even in the face of a pandemic like COVID-19. “Many of us depend on them, but it is often small farmers who are most vulnerable during a crisis,” say FAO experts, who have always worked to improve the living and working conditions of these heroes. 

Joint commitment

In order for this goal to be achieved, everyone's commitment is needed, from governments to individual citizens, as well as public and private companies. And since “our actions are our future”, FAO suggests actions that each member of society can take. 

Countries can, for example, “support the disclosure and use of data; collaborate to make food systems more resilient to volatility and climate shocks and prioritize innovation and digitalization to bridge the digital divide. For their part, “private companies should invest in sustainable and resilient food systems that offer decent jobs; food companies, including e-commerce companies, can use or share new technologies to manage stocks, especially highly perishable products, and all should be aware of their impact on natural resources and adopt a sustainable approach.”

Finally, individual citizens should always strive to make healthy food choices and reduce waste as much as possible, in order to help cultivate, nourish and preserve the planet. 

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