INTERVIEW: Food systems contribute to solving ‘world's most important challenges’
Corinna Hawkes the Director of the FAO Division of Food Systems and Food Safety says a holistic and sustainable approach is needed that considers economic, social, and environmental factors, and that brings people together, to ensure nutritious food and sustainable livelihoods for all.
She was speaking ahead of the UN Food Systems Summit+2 Stocktaking moment, which will consider global agrifood systems.
What is the agrifood system?
Corinna Hawkes: The agrifood system is everything that is connected to food and agriculture. What we eat as well as the way that food is sold, distributed and processed. It also includes how food is grown or harvested on land, at sea, and other non-food products, such as fuel and fibre. All these processes involve a whole host of activities, investments, and decisions.
An agrifood system pulls together all of this into an interconnected system; for example, if we want to grow fruits and vegetables for people to eat healthier, we have to think not just about growing the vegetables, but also about how they are delivered to people.
Agrifood systems are also a space for solutions including for climate change, biodiversity loss, malnutrition, chronic diseases, unsafe food, poverty and to counter a lack of urban sustainability. Agrifood systems are the solution to the world's most important challenges.
Right now, the power to provide those solutions is not there. The agrifood system is sick. The way it is designed and functions means that it is weak, worn out and lacks resilience.
So, the frustration and the challenge here, is that the potential power of the agrifood system to provide these solutions is lost until we transform it to make it stronger.
Some of the major challenges include the way food is grown and produced is contributing to climate change, which in turn weakens the agrifood system.