António Guterres, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, sounded the alarm in the summer of 2019 about the rising number of hungry people. He proposed a World Food Systems Summit in autumn 2021 to bring renewed public attention to the issues of hunger reduction and sustainability and to set urgently needed new impetuses for a change of the entire food system.
This alarm call from Guterres came even before the outbreak of the global COVID-19 pandemic. While much about the pandemic is still unclear, we do know that it will continue to increase poverty and hunger at an unknown rate.
The ambitious goal of the summit requires us to be more specific about what the multilateral system must and can do to improve people’s lives, and not just discuss higher levels of ambition in the (virtual) conference rooms. That’s why the question of what has caused the fight against hunger to fail in the past decades must be at the forefront of the work.
There has been no shortage of summits and resolutions on hunger and sustainability in recent decades. Why is there still hunger in our world of plenty? Without a solid analysis of the lack of progress, there is a danger that more time will be lost with the new summit – and with it trust in the UN system. Or, depending on how you look at it, time will be bought to continue with the old system.
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