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338. Global Food System

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The COVID-19 pandemic, which has been ongoing since last year, has had a tremendous impact on the global food system. In addition, the number of hungry people in the world is estimated to be between 720 million and 811 million in 2020, a sharp increase of 118 million from the previous year, after a mild upward trend since 2014. The United Nations will host the UN Food Systems Summit this September, and a pre-summit will be held in Rome, Italy from July 26 to 28 to discuss sustainable food systems. We have covered topics surrounding the global food system several times in previous Pick Up articles and we would like to organize them once again before the pre-summit.

Global Food System
The term “food system” refers to the “entire range of actors and their interlinked value-adding activities involved in the production, aggregation, processing, distribution, consumption and disposal of food products that originate from agriculture, forestry or fisheries, and parts of the broader economic, societal and natural environments in which they are embedded”. In other words, it encompasses almost all the activities involved in the production and consumption of food. Since the food system is based on a well-developed division of labor network, the impact of any disruption in the supply-demand relationship is immeasurable. The COVID-19 pandemic, which has been continuing since last year, has divided the distribution that connects production and consumption, and there were concerns about the impact on the food system (global food system) on a global scale.

Food system, science and technology for the future of the Earth and food (IIYAMA Miyuki)

*Understanding the global food system in 15 minutes

Concerns about the food system have extended to our diets, leading to malnutrition, micronutrient deficiencies, and rising obesity rates due to poor quality diets. In addition, the global food system to date has aimed to produce more food at a lower cost by increasing inputs such as fertilizers, pesticides, energy, land, and water, which has been a major cause of biodiversity loss, environmental pollution, and water shortages. For these reasons, the EAT-Lancet Commission, formed by the EAT, a science-based global platform for food system transformation, and the Lancet to advocate for sustainable food production and dietary change, has drawn global attention in 2019 to emphasize the role of the food system in maintaining the health of both humanity and the planet. Thus, the global food system must be urgently discussed as a common issue for all humanity.

UN Food Systems Summit
The Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2, “Reduce hunger to zero” was set in September 2015, but the number of hungry people, which had been declining over the past decade, began to increase in 2016, and is further exacerbated by the pandemic. In order to achieve the SDGs, an urgent shift to a sustainable food system is essential. In 2021, the UN Food Systems Summit (UNFSS) will be held under the auspices of the United Nations as an event open to all stakeholders, taking food as a whole system of production, distribution, and consumption.

Following the pre-summit in Rome, Italy, to be held for three days from July 26 to 28, the main meeting will be held in New York in September, where the future of the food system will be discussed with a view to ensuring its sustainability as a common global issue.

JIRCAS will continue to collect and provide information related to the global food system. Please check the Pick Up articles below for more detailed insights on the global food system.

Contributor: KANAMORI Norihito (Information and Public Relations Office)