As world leaders gathered in New York City for the United Nations General Assembly last week, The Global Alliance for the Future of Food, The Rockefeller Foundation, and WWF, in collaboration with media partner Food Tank, hosted a day-long event entitled “Food Day @ UNGA 78: Raising the Ambition on Implementation.” Hosted on September 20, 2023, this convening marked a step toward transforming our food systems for a sustainable, equitable, and inclusive food system, emphasizing the crucial role of food systems in achieving SDGs, addressing climate change, and meeting global biodiversity targets.
The event featured an array of prominent speakers, including Tom Vilsack, Former Secretary of Agriculture at USDA; Joao Campari, Global Leader of Food Practice at WWF; Maximo Torero, Chief Economist at FAO; Razan Al Mubarak, UN Climate Change High-Level Champion, COP28 and David Cooper, Executive Secretary, UNCBD. Their varied expertise and backgrounds served as a reminder of the multifaceted challenges and opportunities with transforming our food systems and the need for collaborative action across sectors and across the globe.
Discussions ranged from regenerative agriculture, sustainable consumption patterns, aquatic and blue foods, energy, nature, food, finance, and health and nutrition. While each of these areas presents unique challenges, they collectively piece together the puzzle of transforming food systems for a sustainable, equitable, and inclusive future. For example, UNCBD Executive Secretary David Cooper underscored the importance of preserving biodiversity within agriculture, stressing the imperative to allocate resources to enhance farm biodiversity while concurrently minimizing pesticide usage and bolstering support for pollinators, recognizing the profound interconnection between biodiversity and agriculture in safeguarding sustainable food systems. The event also included in-person Action Labs to explore opportunities that will maximize impact in the shortest amount of time.
Razan Al Mubarak, UN Climate Change High-Level Champion for COP28, underscored agriculture’s role in tackling climate change, health, and nutrition. She highlighted that three billion people lack access to nutritious food and one-third of food produced is wasted, stressing the importance of collective action to address this systemic problem. Razan emphasized the multifaceted challenges in the food system, advocating for a holistic societal approach, continued ongoing global discussions, and the importance of an “all-hands-on-deck” approach to drive food transformation as a central catalyst for positive change in climate mitigation and global health.
While these challenges are prevalent, the potential rewards—such as a healthier planet and equitable access to nutritious food—are certainly worth the effort. Together, we can cultivate a sustainable, natural, and inclusive food system to sustain all future generations.