In Europe, the United States, and other countries, important progress has been made in reducing the dramatic impact of Covid-19 on key sectors of the population, but in part of Africa, Latin America, Asia and the Middle East, the situation of the The devastating effects of the pandemic continue to severely affect large sectors of the population and the economy, including the food and agricultural reality.
This was one of the topics discussed at the recent meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation held at the end of June in the southern Italian city of Matera, within the framework of the G20 and under the Presidency of Italy, in which the addressed the issue of food sustainability in light of the effects of Covid-19.
One of the approved initiatives was the creation of a Coalition in favor of food that allows multilaterally, or a group of countries, and even bilaterally, to find common paths based on successful practices that different countries have carried out throughout of this period beginning in early 2020.
The idea of the Food Coalition is a clear signal that each country, alone, will not be able to get out of the difficulties that the pandemic caused or aggravated.
This initiative has been part of a broad debate within FAO to identify ways to address the potential worsening of poverty and hunger due to the effects of Covid-19.
According to FAO data, to the 690 million people who go hungry , (according to figures announced in July 2020), as a result of Covid-19, more than 100 million could be added, which would move away from the goal proposed in 2015 by more than 150 heads of state to eliminate hunger and poverty by 2030.
On the contrary, if we continue on this path, in 2030, more than 840 million could be going hungry around the world despite the efforts that are being made.
It is about building a coalition that takes into account the aspects of food sustainability, health, the environment and the economy in a common vision, jointly and flexibly.
Precisely, the participation of the different public and private actors was one of the issues they faced during the aforementioned G20 meeting in Italy , which is why a call was launched for joint initiatives, global or regional, that allow to be summarized in the meeting of the G20 Agriculture Ministers to be held in mid-September in Florence, Italy.
This process of joining forces and articulating common plans and actions, leaving certain areas of isolation that Covid-19 has generated between countries and regions, should allow, for example, small producers in less developed countries to act directly with markets of developed countries, a reflection being carried out by countries and producer groups in Europe, the United States, and some African countries.
Likewise, incorporating into the new peace agreements, for example, between Israel and Morocco, the component of sustainable agriculture and food and even rethinking existing projects in different countries, which the effects of Covid-19 substantially modified.
Reorienting agricultural and food strategies in the medium and long term in “one health” plans should also allow a similar and complementary vision in the analysis of health, nutrition, the sustainable future of the planet and the animals, trying to get out of risky fragmented assessments of these realities.
Biodiversity must be taken care of, the initiatives of young people and women in rural areas must be promoted , food loss that continues to exceed 14 percent of what is produced, and new food sustainability scenarios be generated, among many other aspects.
This common coalition effort should help to reverse the scandalous trend that in addition to hundreds of millions of people going hungry, there are more than one billion people with obesity, which places the quality of nutrition as one of the challenges of the post-pandemic.
This will be one of the topics for discussion at the next pre-Summit on the transformation of food systems to be held in Rome between July 26 and 28, convened by the Secretary-General of the United Nations and for which the presence is expected. of thousands of participants, in physical or virtual form, from Presidents to Ministers, academics, representatives of the private sector and civil society.
The conclusions of the debates in Rome will later be transferred to New York in September, where the Heads of State will meet to sanction possible common agreements.
As never before, it is time to join forces, analyzing the complexity of the phenomena, but looking for experiences that have had tangibly positive results throughout this period.
As Pope Francis recently pointed out , we must “redesign an economy at the height of man, not limited to profit but connected” to the common good, friendly to ethics and respectful of the environment.