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Global hunger high on agenda for UN Food Systems Summit

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TODAY, WE are reminded that we are tremendously off track to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. New, tragic data informs us that between 720 and 811 million people in the world faced hunger in 2020 – as many as 161 million more than in 2019.

High costs, coupled with persistently high levels of poverty and income inequality, continue to keep healthy diets out of reach for around three billion people, in every region of the world.

Indeed, hunger has been on the rise for several years and, now, in 2021, we are failing to provide what is a fundamental right for people around the world.

COVID-19 has made things worse, and made clear the linkage between inequality, poverty, food and disease. Despite a 300 per cent increase in global food production since the mid-1960s, malnutrition is a leading factor contributing to reduced life expectancy.

Climate change is both a driver and a consequence of hunger. Our war with nature includes a food system that generates one third of all greenhouse gas emissions. The same food system is also responsible for up to 80 per cent of biodiversity loss.

And hunger drives conflict.

In short, addressing hunger and malnutrition cannot be done in isolation of other global challenges. As we recognized through the 2030 Agenda, they are interconnected.

It is time to keep our promise. In a world of plenty, we have no excuse for billions of people to lack access to a healthy diet. This is unacceptable.

And we are running out of time to make the urgent shifts we need to limit global temperature rise.

This is why I’m convening a global Food Systems Summit this September.

We must come together to urgently make a change. The upcoming Pre-Summit in Rome at the end of this month will help us define the scope of our ambition and work out how we must address hunger, the climate emergency, incredible inequality and conflict, by transforming our food systems.

Through the process of this “People’s Summit”, we have heard thousands of voices around the world and ideas of women, indigenous peoples and the young people that are the future of our food systems. As a “Solution’s Summit”, all are contributing ideas to support the green transitions we need to promote decent work, improve access to technology and reset our relationship with our planet.

Our relationship with food is a fundamental part of all aspects of life on earth. The social, environment and economic dimensions of our food systems are profound. Wherever we are, food brings us together as families and communities while supporting billions of jobs.

Changes in our food systems must happen. They will limit the impacts of a pandemic and initiate a shift to a safer, fairer, more sustainable world.

Our blueprint to recover from this pandemic is the 2030 Agenda. Investing in changes in our food systems will support the transformation of our world. It is one of the smartest – and most necessary investments we can make.

Statement by the UN Secretary-General – on the Food Systems Summit

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