17 October 2016

Africa: Rome-Based UN Agencies Urge Transformation of Food Systems for Better Nutrition

press release

Rome — The Committee on World Food Security (CFS) opened its plenary today, poised in the wake of international agreements on new global Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change to forge ahead with coordinated action to transform the world's food systems and nutrition.

"More than half of the world population suffer from one or more forms of malnutrition," including hunger, micronutrient deficiency and obesity, FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva told delegates attending the annual meeting of the leading forum for global policymaking on food security and nutrition . "there is a clear failure of food systems to deliver healthy diets to people. And if food systems are the problem, CFS is where we should look for solutions," he said.

The key goals of eradicating extreme poverty, hunger and all forms of malnutrition by 2030 must be achieved in "an increasingly adverse context where population growth, a shrinking resource base, climate change and urbanization will challenge our ability to find new ways of working and interacting," he said. The effort will require "extended partnerships," Graziano da Silva said.

"We need to do more, do it better, faster and together... to transform rural areas into places where people can live fulfilling lives, and plan for a bright future. Where every one of the world's 3 billion rural people is able to adapt to climate change. Where each day starts and ends with access to food that is nutritious and plentiful," said Kanayo F. Nwanze, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

"We must renew our efforts to build more sustainable food systems, which are better able to withstand changing weather patterns and extreme events and respond to nutritional needs -- building resilience into our food systems, mitigating the risks, and ensuring we are more prepared for climate shocks in the future," said Elisabeth Rasmusson, Assistant Executive Director of the UN's World Food Program (WFP), noting the effort would require action from diverse stakeholders.

In her opening remarks, CFS Chair Amira Gornass of Sudan emphasized that "building sustainable food systems is in essence working to achieve the food security and nutrition-related targets of the 2030 Agenda."

A global conversation

In addition to acting as the UN system's guiding body for food security and nutrition debates, CFS is structured to allow participants from civil society, the private sector, other UN agencies and international financial institutions, research bodies and other non-state actors a voice in policy decisions. This plenary, the 43rd, has set a record with more than 1,400 registered participants.

Its week-long deliberations will include a host of side events, a forum on urbanization - an increasingly important theme for food security and nutrition.

Delegates will also endorse two sets of policy recommendations, one regarding the role of livestock in sustainable agricultural development and another regarding the importance of connecting smallholders to markets.

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