We are excited to present a groundbreaking declaration that embodies the collective efforts and unwavering commitment of the Scaling up Nutrition Civil Society Network (SUN CSN). Titled “Reclaiming Our Food System: 4 Principles to Prioritize,” this declaration sets forth a transformative vision to address the pressing challenges faced by our global food and agricultural systems.
In today’s world, our relationship with food is imbalanced and unsustainable. Astonishingly, despite producing enough food to feed the entire population, nearly 30 percent of people worldwide experienced moderate to severe food insecurity in 2022, as reported by the 2023 The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World report. A staggering 3.1 billion individuals cannot afford a healthy diet. Meanwhile, one-third of all food produced is wasted, squandering precious natural resources that were utilized during cultivation. This wastefulness not only raises moral concerns but also poses serious environmental threats.
Our food and agricultural systems have taken a detrimental path, focusing on quantity over quality. We incentivize monocrop farming, depleting vital resources, while disregarding the nutritional value and diversity essential for a balanced diet. This reckless approach not only jeopardizes nutrition but also fuels land degradation, climate change, and extreme weather events.
However, the time for change is now. As we approach the UN Food Systems Stocktaking Moment, scheduled to take place at the headquarters of the Food and Agriculture Organisation in Rome, Italy, from 24 to 26 July 2023, we see a crucial opportunity to catalyze change through robust multistakeholder collaboration.
With this declaration, SUN CSN rallies governments, UN agencies, private sectors, civil society, and all stakeholders involved in nutrition and food systems to prioritize four fundamental principles:
- Strengthen Local & Sustainable Food Systems: It is time to support and uplift local food production, processing, and consumption. By investing in local systems, we enhance resilience and ensure equitable access to nutritious foods while reducing waste. This approach fosters self-reliance and strengthens the fabric of our communities. To achieve this, we must promote agroecological and indigenous practices that enhance biodiversity, soil health, and water conservation. These sustainable practices not only mitigate the impacts of climate change but also safeguard nutrition and the delicate balance of our ecosystems. Moreover, addressing trade inequities that make imports cheaper than local production is crucial. This can be achieved through policy measures that level the playing field for local producers, creating a demand-driven incentive for the growth of local food systems.
- Transform Food Environments: We must embark on a transformative journey to reshape our food environments, making healthy diets affordable, accessible, and appealing. This involves comprehensive efforts to educate and empower individuals about nutrition, promoting healthy diets, and enforcing regulations that contribute to enhanced nutrition outcomes. Promoting breastfeeding and implementing the International Code of Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes (BMS Code) are particularly essential in this regard. Additionally, investing in nutritional education through mass media campaigns, school-meal programs, and health centers, as well as limiting unhealthy food marketing, are crucial steps.
- Recognize the Role of Civil Society: Civil Society is the heartbeat of change. Their expertise, advocacy, and community engagement are the catalysts for driving meaningful transformation. SUN CSN calls upon governments and donors to recognize and value the crucial role that Civil Society organizations play in this journey. Empowering Civil Society empowers the voices of the marginalized and vulnerable, ensuring their needs and aspirations are heard and addressed.
- Hold Commitment-Makers to Account: As we navigate the complex challenges of reshaping our food systems, monitoring and evaluating the actions and commitments of all stakeholders is essential. This requires transparency, data-driven assessments, and mechanisms for engagement and participation. Acknowledging the significant role of the private sector within food systems, it is imperative to address potential conflicts of interest and develop a strong corporate accountability framework.
At SUN CSN, we firmly believe that by prioritizing these four principles, we can ignite change and forge a future where nutritious food is a right, not a privilege. Together, let our voices rise to demand fair, resilient, and equitable food systems for the well-being of humanity and the sustainability of our world.
Join us as we embark on this transformative journey to reclaim our food system. Together, we can create a world where no one goes hungry, and our food systems truly nourish the health of our planet.
Stay tuned for further updates and actions to implement the Declaration!