Fixing Our Failing Food Systems
Current patterns of food production and consumption are driving the collapse of the ecosystems upon which humanity depends. But building a more sustainable food system is possible, and requires only the political will to act now.
LAGOS – Food prices are surging to record highs in many countries, driven by factors including climate change, violent conflict, the COVID-19 pandemic, and supply-chain disruptions. This perfect storm has exposed the inefficiencies and flaws of global food systems, leading some to warn of a looming food crisis.
Last September, a United Nations summit brought together key actors in food and agriculture and produced new national and international commitments to improve food systems for people and the planet. The summit’s five Action Tracks identified powerful solutions to end hunger and malnutrition, and to ensure environmental sustainability throughout food value chains. Governments and businesses had an ideal opportunity – shortly before the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow in November – to act decisively to transform food systems.
That opportunity has not been realized. But with time running out in the critical UN Decade of Action on Nutrition from 2016 to 2025, we must measure progress in months, not years – and COP26 largely relegated food systems to the sidelines. In UN climate negotiations, coal, cars, trees, cement, and steel – and cash – continue to capture political and media attention, while the urgent need to change the way we produce and consume food is generally overlooked.