The UN Food Systems Pre-Summit has opened in Rome, where Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi called for a radical transformation of the way we produce food in order to combat hunger globally.
The Pre-Summit is a precursor to the global UN Food Systems Summit, which will take place in New York in September, and is intended to kickstart a decade of action in how food is produced globally, both to combat climate change and to ensure the world’s growing population has access to nourishing food. Reducing food waste is a critical factor in having a more efficient and beneficial food system.
The three-day Pre-Summit, which includes a series of talks, seminars, conventions and think-tanks, saw Draghi call for the world to come together to radically overhaul the entire food system.
"The health crisis generated a food crisis," he said. "As we did with vaccines, we must act with determination to improve access to an adequate quantity of food. This pre-summit is an opportunity to transform the way we think about, produce and consume food at the global level."
Pope Francis also made his voice heard, calling for an end to the "scandal" of world hunger when there is enough for everyone, saying that this was a "crime that violates basic human rights" in a message to the UN Secretary General António Guterres.
The Pope called for a "new mindset and a new holistic approach and to design food systems that protect the Earth and keep the dignity of the human person at the centre; that ensure enough food globally and promote decent work locally; and that feed the world today, without compromising the future".
The Pre-Summit, however, has its share of detractors, as hundreds of civil society and indigenous peoples’ organisations, together with Slow Food, came together to launch a global counter-mobilisation against the UN Food Systems Pre-Summit.
They claim that the summit is the result of a partnership between the UN and the World Economic Forum – a body that brings together the world’s top 1000 corporations, and that it is disproportionately influenced by corporate actors.
Carlo Petrini, Slow Food president and founder, said: “The aim of changing food and farming systems in a genuinely sustainable way can only march on the legs of millions of people in the local economy who are carrying out this ambitious and worthwhile transformation. For all these reasons, I think that the People’s Counter-Mobilization to Transform Corporate Food Systems is a courageous and useful choice. That does not exclude dialogue, indeed, it brings it forward, but dialogue must involve everyone and not just the privileged few in a financial-economic system that is responsible for this disaster.”