okonjoiweala18_Hou ChonghuiVCG via Getty Images_food harvest Hou ChonghuiVCG via Getty Images

Trade and the Future of Food

World Food Day offers an important opportunity to recall how vital a role trade plays in shaping the production, availability, pricing, and quality of that food. In fact, no effort to create a more equitable and sustainable food system will be complete without concerted global action on trade.

GENEVA – No one can survive without food. And yet, the world’s food systems are badly in need of reform. To ensure universal access to adequate nutrition, as well as long-term environmental sustainability, we need to change how we produce, process, transport, and consume food. World Food Day should spur us to consider how to achieve this, and to recognize that trade must be part of the solution.

The recent United Nations Food Systems Summit highlighted not only the need for comprehensive reforms, but also the key role that governments must play in improving how food markets function. This will require deeper international cooperation. As the COVID-19 pandemic has reminded us, joint action is essential to enable all people to live healthy and dignified lives.

Barriers to trade in basic necessities, such as food and medicine, frustrate efforts to improve nutrition and health, thereby undermining the basis of future prosperity. By contrast, effective trade can reduce hunger and malnutrition not only by ensuring the delivery of food supplies, but also by creating decent work and raising incomes.

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