The UN Food Systems Summit took place yesterday (Thursday, September 23) in New York, “marking a key moment in defining the commitments of countries and stakeholders for the future of our food systems”.

While the Covid-19 pandemic limited the main event of the summit to an online exchange, the preparation has taken months for many of those involved.

Copa-Cogeca, together with other farmers and producer representatives, had “contributed to the preparatory works, aiming for the voice of European farmers and cooperatives to be well reflected in some of the key debates and outcomes”.

Copa-Cogeca signs joint declaration

Together with a series of other producer organisations’, Copa-Cogeca signed a joint declaration, “aiming to communicate key commitments and demands of the group to national governments and UN representatives”.

“The joint declaration underlines the commitment of primary producers to continue their efforts in producing enough nutritious food for a growing population while improving the sustainability of their production,” Copa-Cogeca said.

“They also commit to working hard to preserve habitats while contributing to social vitality and job creation in rural areas.

“To do so, primary producers call on member states and other stakeholders to reward their efforts to produce food while respecting planetary boundaries and biodiversity.

“Crucially, they also call on them to provide producers with an easy access to the technologies, the knowledge and the financial resources necessary to achieve those objectives.

“In addition, members states and international institutions must also acknowledge the central role of producers to further any change of/in our food systems and the need to actively collaborate with them in the formulation of policies related to food.”

Need for action is urgent

President Michael D. Higgins, in delivering Ireland’s national address at the summit, said that the need for action “is now more urgent than ever”.

“We meet in the shadow of a global pandemic; in a world struggling with new, rising, deepening inequality; a world scarred by unprecedented levels of conflict and instability; and facing climate and biodiversity emergencies which threaten our very future on this planet,” the president said.

“Ending world hunger and ensuring the right to food for all must be placed firmly at the top of the political agenda.

May I suggest that we require today a renewed moral consciousness, one that will give us policies that will ensure that the needs of all can be met.

“Eradicating poverty and ending hunger is one of the greatest moral and ethical challenges we face today, all the more so as it can be achieved.”

The president said that it is recognised that change is needed in Ireland’s food system.

Food Vision 2030

“Ireland is responding to that need through its new stakeholder-led transformative pathway – Food Vision 2030,” he continued.

“That strategy was developed using a food-systems approach which recognises the interconnections between food, health, environment and climate.

“The strategy rightfully sets the viability and resilience of our farmers and fishers as one of its primary missions.”

The president added that farming and nature “must connect”.

“Prudent use of nutrients, coupled with greater use of crops that self-generate their nitrogen, must be the basis of sustainable food production, delivering both on biodiversity and on soil health.”