President Michael D. Higgins will deliver Ireland’s national statement to the UN Food Systems Summit this week.

The summit, taking place tomorrow (Thursday, September 23), will be a completely virtual event during the UN General Assembly.

In his meetings in Rome last week, President Higgins stressed that the world “is not on track to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”.

He also said that modern food systems – defined as encompassing all the elements and activities related to the production and consumption of food, and its effects, including all of the economic, health and environmental outcomes – lie at the heart of many of today’s greatest challenges.

UN Food Systems Summit to trigger transformation

The summit is set to “trigger the transformation of food systems the world over with a marathon day of commitments” from governments, advocates, communities and businesses, according to the UN.

After 600 member state dialogues involving more than 45,000 people, some 80 countries have already submitted their national pathways ahead of Thursday’s event with the total number expected to continue growing through the end of the week.

‘Ireland’s Food Systems Transformation Pathway’ outlines how the agri-food sector has been “central to Irish domestic economic planning and its foreign policy over many decades”.

“Since 2000, strategy for the Irish agri-food sector has been developed by stakeholder committees, working in collaboration with the government,” the document states.

“The most recent iteration of this is Food Vision 2030, published in August 2021, which represents Ireland’s food system transformation pathway to 2030.

“Food Vision 2030 acknowledges that the market and policy environment over the next decade will be more challenging than experienced in any recent decade.

“Sustainability will be the requirement from the domestic and international consumer and citizen. The sector must operate within planetary boundaries as well as meeting Irish society’s demands in terms of sustainability.

“Irish policy on the environment and climate change has become significantly more ambitious in recent years.

“Food Vision 2030 has set the objective of achieving a climate-neutral food system by 2050, with verifiable progress by 2030, encompassing emissions reduction and improvement in water quality and biodiversity.

“Other policy strands to achieve the sector’s climate-neutrality objectives are measures to increase its role in carbon sequestration, especially through forestry, and the scale-up of renewable energy resources, through anaerobic digestion, solar energy and greater energy efficiency.”

The UN Food Systems Summit was announced by the UN secretary-general, António Guterres, on World Food Day in October 2019 as part of the Decade of Action for delivery on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

The aim of the summit is to deliver progress on all 17 of the SDGs through a food-systems approach, “leveraging the interconnectedness of food systems to global challenges such as hunger, climate change, poverty and inequality”.