Transforming Food Systems To Defeat Hunger

To reduce hunger, food systems must be transformed to prevent 17 percent of total food production from being lost, as is currently the case. Credit: FAO

To reduce hunger, food systems must be transformed to prevent 17 percent of total food production from being lost, as is currently the case. Credit: FAO

By Mario Lubetkin
ROME, Oct 27 2021 – During October, the World Food Month, there has been a huge increase in the number of qualified voices promoting new ways to transform food systems that would allow to reduce and eliminate hunger, of which more than 811 million people in the world are already victims.

Based on the conclusions of the Food Systems Summit, held virtually on September 23, as well as its “hybrid” preparatory phase that took place in Rome in July, with the physical presence of 540 delegates and virtual presence of more than 20,000 people around the world, a growing number of personalities continue to advance into these reflections.

Globally, about 14 percent of food produced is lost between harvest and retail sale, equivalent to a loss of $ 400 billion per year, while food waste is estimated to reach 17 percent of total production: 11 percent is wasted in homes, 5 percent in food service establishments, and 2 percent in retail trade

This should pave the way to new avenues paths that will fulfill the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) foreseen by the international community by 2030, for which the eradication of hunger and poverty are considered to be priorities.

The transformation of agri-food systems must begin with normal consumers and the decisions they make about the food they consume, where it is bought, how it is packaged, where it is discarded, on the basis that all this will have an impact on the future of the planet, so it is necessary to reduce food loss and waste.

Globally, about 14 percent of food produced is lost between harvest and retail sale, equivalent to a loss of $ 400 billion per year, while food waste is estimated to reach 17 percent of total production: 11 percent is wasted in homes, 5 percent in food service establishments, and 2 percent in retail trade.

Pope Francis, in his message addressed during World Food Day on October 16, recalled that “currently we observe a true paradox in terms of access to food: on the one hand, more than 3 billion people do not have access to a nutritious diet, while, on the other hand, almost 2 billion people are overweight or obese due to a poor diet and a sedentary life.”

“Our lifestyles and daily consumption practices influence global and environmental dynamics, but if we aspire to a real change, we must urge producers and consumers to make ethical and sustainable decisions, and educate younger generations on the important role they play to make a world without hunger a reality,” stated the pontiff.

And for that, he emphasized, we must begin “with our daily life and simplest gestures: knowing our common house, protecting it and being aware of its importance, which should be the first step to be custodians and promoters of the environment.”

According to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, the way food is produced, consumed and wasted “is having a disastrous consequence for our planet”, and “this is putting historical pressure on our natural resources and the environment” and “it is costing us billions of dollars every year”, underlining that “the power of change is in our hands”.

The Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), QU Dongyu is convinced that efforts must be accelerated towards the achievement of the SDGs foreseen for 2030 “with a view to halving food waste in the world and reducing food losses in the production and supply chain, including post-harvest losses,” noting that “there are only nine seasons (harvests) left to do so.”

The Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), Inger Andersen, recalled that food loss and waste “are the origin of 10 percent of greenhouse gas emissions”, which means that “valuable land and water resources are being used for nothing.”

She added that reducing food loss and waste will slow “climate change, protect nature and increase food security at a time when we desperately need that to happen.”

Dr QU, FAO’s head, agreed and considered that “it is not possible to continue losing 75 billion cubic meters of water per year in the production of fruit and vegetables.”

Experts from FAO estimate that it will be necessary to invest between 40 and 50 billion dollars annually to end hunger by 2030.

In particular, they highlighted the implementation of low-cost and high-impact projects that can help hundreds of millions of people to better meet their food needs, mainly with research, as well as with development and digital innovation to achieve advanced technology agriculture.

These thoughts and initiatives are added to those already made by the Foreign Ministers of the Group of 20 (G20) in Matera, Italy, in June, and the G20 Ministers of Agriculture in Florence, Italy, in September.

In those meetings, they emphasized the value of creating coalitions of countries together with civil society organizations, the private sector, particularly agricultural producers, academics and scientists, as well as other actors to exchange ideas and solutions in this phase of Covid-19 pandemic.

And in turn, to project the post-Covid scenario that helps relaunch countries with sustainability and resilience in strategic areas such as agriculture and food.

Excerpt:

Mario Lubetkin is Assistant Director General at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

Illegal Immigration: A 21st Century Crisis

Illegal immigration is a 21st century crisis that will only worsen with the consequences of climate change. In addition to poverty, civil conflict and violence, the increasing high temperatures, widespread droughts, frequent flooding and rising sea levels are leaving parts of the world unlivable. The result will be climate-fueled instability with millions of people likely migrating for their survival

Governments, regional organizations and international agencies have failed to come up with sensible answers or effective policies to address the increasing waves of illegal migrants. Credit: Javier García/IPS

By Joseph Chamie
PORTLAND, USA, Oct 27 2021 – Illegal immigration is a 21st century crisis that will only worsen with the consequences of climate change.

In addition to poverty, civil conflict and violence, the increasing high temperatures, widespread droughts, frequent flooding and rising sea levels are leaving parts of the world unlivable. The result will be climate-fueled instability with millions of people likely migrating for their survival.

Unfortunately, governments, regional organizations and international agencies have failed to come up with sensible answers or effective policies to address the increasing waves of illegal migrants, including caravans of thousands, arriving at borders and the growing numbers of migrants unlawfully resident.

The recently negotiated Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, for example, has done relatively little to address illegal migration. Other than fences, barriers, closed borders, pushbacks and official statements, governments appear ill prepared to deal with the growing numbers unlawfully crossing their borders.

In the coming decades climate-related migration will become an even more critical challenge. A recent landmark ruling by the UN Human Rights Committee found it unlawful for governments to return people to countries where their lives might be threatened by a climate crisis

With the assistance of social media and smugglers, thousands of migrants are arriving at borders by boat, motor vehicle and even by foot, pleading to enter the country. Refusing entry and/or deporting them to their home countries, especially when migrants claim asylum or come from failed states, have created serious dilemmas for governments.

Also, governments seem reluctant to acknowledge that visa overstayers and unauthorized migrants don’t expect to be deported. This expectation is largely based on the experiences of millions of unauthorized migrants permitted to live in host countries.

In many countries the public is displeased with their government’s handling of illegal immigration. This dissatisfaction contributes to anti-migrant sentiments, demonstrations against illegal immigration, xenophobia and violence towards migrants.

International surveys have found that approximately 15 percent of the world’s adults, or more than 800 million, want to migrate to another country. If children are included, the number of people wanting to migrate increases to more than 1 billion, or one-eighth of the world’s population of nearly 8 billion.

The preferred destinations are wealthy nations, with the United States being the top choice, followed by Canada, Germany, France, Australia and the United Kingdom. Those countries offer employment, services, opportunities, benefits, safety, human rights and security.

Among the economic, social and environmental forces influencing illegal migration are population size imbalances. For example, whereas the populations of Latin America and the Caribbean and Northern America were about the same size in 1950, today the population of Latin America is nearly double that of Northern America and is projected to remain so for the foreseeable future (Figure 1).

 

Source: United Nations Population Division.

 

Another noteworthy population size imbalance is between Europe and Africa. Whereas, in 1950 Europe’s population was double the size of Africa’s, by 2020 the demographic situation was the reverse. By 2050 Africa’s population is expected to be more than triple the size of Europe’s, 2.5 versus 0.7 billion (Figure 2).

 

Source: United Nations Population Division.

 

World population is also substantially larger than in was in the recent past. Today’s world population of nearly 8 billion is quadruple the number of people in 1921 and double the number in 1974.

Population projections point to continued demographic growth. World population is expected to reach 9 billion in 2037 and 10 billion in 2056, with most of the growth occurring in developing countries. Africa alone is expected to gain more than one billion people by midcentury (Figure 3).

 

Source: United Nations Population Division.

 

The asymmetry of human rights is also contributing to illegal immigration. The Universal Declaration of Human rights states that everyone has the right to leave and return to their country (Article 13). However, the Declaration does not give one the right to entry another country without authorization.

Lacking a legal right to emigrate, migrants turn to illegal migration with many claiming the right to seek asylum, Article 14 of the Declaration, to enter the destination country. Once in the country, unauthorized migrants believe they will not be repatriated even if their asylum claim is rejected, which is typically the case.

Of the world’s nearly 300 million migrants, the number of unauthorized migrants is likely to be no less than one-fifth of all migrants, or about 60 million. In the United States, for example, about one-fourth of the foreign-born population, or approximately 11 million, are unauthorized migrants,

The European Commission reports taking strong actions to prevent illegal migration through ensuring that each European Union (EU) country controls its own portion of EU’s external borders. Increasingly EU states are erecting walls, fences and even military force and technology to secure their borders against illegal immigration. Recently, the interior ministers from 12 member states demanded that the EU finance border-wall projects to stop migrants entering through Belarus.

Despite those actions, illegal immigration to the EU from January through August 2021 increased by 64 percent over the previous year. Along the western Balkan route, illegal crossings to the EU nearly doubled, with most of those migrants from Syria, Afghanistan and Morocco.

In the United States, illegal immigration has reached record levels. Officials detained 1.66 million illegal immigrants, including 145 thousand unaccompanied children, at the U.S. southern border in fiscal year 2021, the highest level ever recorded. The migrants were from 160 countries, with many seeking economic opportunities.

Many governments tolerate illegal immigration. Recently issued administration guidelines in the United States, for example, instruct immigration officials to no longer detain and repatriate migrants based on their illegal status alone; the focus is on those posing safety threats. Also, in Germany enforcement against illegal entry and unlawful residence is generally weak and authorities tend to look the other way regarding unauthorized migrant workers.

How best to address those unlawfully resident in a country remains a controversial political issue that most governments have been unable to resolve effectively. While some wish to offer a pathway to citizenship, others recommend repatriation and still others prefer to maintain the status quo.

Reasonable future levels of legal migration will be insufficient to absorb even a fraction of the estimated 1 billion people who want to migrate to wealthy countries. Consequently, future illegal migration will likely be many times greater than today’s levels.

In addition, in the coming decades climate-related migration will become an even more critical challenge. A recent landmark ruling by the UN Human Rights Committee found it unlawful for governments to return people to countries where their lives might be threatened by a climate crisis.

Tens of millions of people are expected to be displaced by 2050 because of life-threatening climate and environmental changes. Some estimate that as many as 143 million people in South Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America are likely to be displaced due to climate change.

Among the many aspects of the illegal immigration crisis that governments need to address are three critical questions:

  1. How to address the millions of unauthorized migrants currently resident in their countries?
  2. How to respond to the millions of unauthorized migrants arriving at borders and attempting to enter?
  3. How to address the millions of people to be displaced by climate change?

Failing to effectively address those and related issues will only exacerbate the 21st century illegal immigration crisis that will only worsen with climate change.

 

Joseph Chamie is a consulting demographer, a former director of the United Nations Population Division and author of numerous publications on population issues, including his recent book, “Births, Deaths, Migrations and Other Important Population Matters.”