CFS-FSC WEBINAR - Making Food Systems Work for Healthy Diets

Post date Wednesday, 29 July, 2020 - 17:38

Presentation of the Draft Voluntary Guidelines on Food Systems and Nutrition by the Committee on World Food Security

Note from the Global Food Security Cluster Coordinator

Today, as we speak, food insecurity, undernutrition, various forms of malnutrition and the socio-economic burden they carry are affecting one-third of the global population. There are estimates that this could climb rapidly to half the population by 2030 if trends remain uncurbed. While hunger and undernutrition are a critical concern on the one side, on the other overweight, obesity and diet-related non-communicable diseases are also increasing, putting enormous pressure on our health systems. 

Fortunately, the global agenda for food security and nutrition has attracted unprecedented attention from the international community. We are witnessing a rise in high-level commitment, coordination mechanisms and financing. The World Health Organization (WHO) targets, the second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) recommendations and framework for action, and Nutrition for Growth are just some examples. These targets and recommendations have been consolidated in the new era of Sustainable Development Goals, where the broader development community is beginning to rally behind the concept of food security and nutrition as central to sustainable development programming and fundamental to achieving a whole range of related goals. 

Food systems are essential for promoting food security and providing the nutrients necessary for a healthy, active and productive life. But we all know that these are coming under increasing strain due to population growth, urbanization and economic and climate volatility. 

Policies implemented to drive forward economic globalization have brought changes throughout the global food system, with heavy implications for diet quality, socio-economic equity and environmental health. Our food production, processing and distribution systems are threatening climate stability and the resilience of our ecosystems. The food industry is currently the largest driver of environmental degradation. Overuse of chemicals, monoculture cropping systems, cash crops and intensive animal farming on land and at sea are degrading natural resources faster than they can reproduce and causing a quarter of all man-made greenhouse gas emissions – with livestock responsible for about a half of that.

The bottom line is that today’s food systems are not delivering healthy diets for all. They are not helping consumers to make healthy and affordable food choices. We have increased agricultural productivity and overall food availability, but at the same time sales and consumption of ultra-processed food and drink are increasing even faster, leading to dire diet-related public health concerns.

Unequal distribution of and access to healthy and nutritious diets is another critical aspect of our global food systems that needs to be addressed. The Global Nutrition Report this year highlights how inequality is a leading factor behind both undernutrition and overweight, obesity and other chronic diet-related diseases. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed all these weaknesses of already fragile global food systems. Today, immunodepressed and malnourished people across the world are bearing a disproportionate burden of COVID-19. People who are already suffering the consequences of inequality – including women, children, those living in conflict areas and refugees – are being affected by both the virus and the impact of containment measures.  

Now, while much remains to be done to keep building and sustaining global, regional and national commitments towards achieving food security and adequate nutrition for all – and especially for the poor, the marginalized and the most vulnerable – policy makers and practitioners at all levels are still facing challenges in translating these global commitments into coordinated action at country level. Implementing bodies need evidence and guidance on how to design, monitor and evaluate policies, interventions and investments for food systems that are equitable, environmentally sustainable, and resilient enough to adapt to sudden economic or environmental shocks.

The Global Food Security Cluster (gFSC) is engaged in building partnerships for coordinated food security response during a humanitarian crisis, by addressing issues of food availability, access, utilization and stability. It recognizes the value of prioritizing the progressive building and strengthening of food systems as part and parcel of the graduating process from emergency assistance to longer-term development planning and investment in areas affected by crisis. 

As part of its work on facilitating the platform for policy dialogue and providing technical guidance on food security and nutrition, the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) is in the process of developing Voluntary Guidelines on Food Systems for Nutrition (the zero-draft is attached below).

The joint organization of this webinar (LINK) is an effort to expand our collaboration with partners beyond the humanitarian intervention context, and engage in advocacy, policy dialogue and technical guidance to create resilient, equitable, sustainable and nutrition-enhancing food systems that meet the needs of all. We analysed and discussed the nature, objectives, and content of the Guidelines and explored together how they can be linked to the gFSC and partners’ work at regional and national levels. I hope you will find is as inspiring as we did. 

Thank you.

Bruno Minjauw 

Watch full webinar here:

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