Guterres looks for recipe to tackle global food dysfunction
UNITED NATIONS, Sept 24: Billions of people are overweight, millions are hungry, one third of food is wasted and the way the world produces, processes and consumes food generates one-third of greenhouse gas emissions, UN chief Antonio Guterres said on Thursday at the first global summit on the future of food.
The aim of the summit is to deliver progress on 17 sustainable development goals, created by the United Nations in 2015 as a wide-ranging "to-do" list including ending hunger and poverty, achieving gender equality and taking action on climate change.
Guterres told the summit - held virtually because of the coronavirus pandemic on the sidelines of the annual high-level UN General Assembly - that food systems need to support the health and well-being of all people, protect the planet and support prosperity.
"As a global community, we need to shift our approach on agricultural subsidies, and employment support for workers," he said. "And we need to re-think how we see and value food - not simply as a commodity to be traded, but as a right that every person shares."
After remaining virtually unchanged for five years, world hunger and malnutrition rose last year by around 118 million people to 768 million, with most of the increase likely caused by the pandemic, according to a UN report.
On internationally traded markets, world food prices were up 33.9 per cent year-on-year in June, according to the UN food agency's price index, which measures a basket of cereals, oilseeds, dairy products, meat and sugar.
"We must grow food where the environment supports it best and where emissions efficiency is greatest, while minimizing the barriers to trade and efficient distribution," New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told the summit. -REUTERS