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World Food Day 2021: Our actions are our future!

by Public Health Update

Overview

World Food Day is observed each year on 16th October to promote worldwide awareness and action for those who suffer from hunger and for the need to ensure healthy diets for all. Collective action across 150 countries is what makes World Food Day one of the most celebrated days of the United Nations’ calendar. Hundreds of events and outreach activities bring together governments, businesses, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), the media, and general public. World Food Day 2021 will be marked a second time while countries around the world deal with the widespread effects of the global COVID-19 pandemic. It’s a time to look into the future we need to build together.

Facts

  • More than 3 billion people (almost 40 percent of the world’s population) cannot afford a healthy diet.
  • Almost 2 billion people are overweight or obese due to a poor diet and sedentary lifestyle. Related health-care costs could exceed USD 1.3 trillion per year by 2030.
  • Smallholder farmers produce more than 33 percent of the world’s food, despite challenges, including poverty and a lack of access to resources including finance, training and technology.
  • 14 percent of the world’s food is lost due to inadequate harvesting, handling, storage and transit and 17 percent is wasted at consumer level.
  • Globally, 20 percent more women than men aged 25–34 live in extreme poverty, and more than 18 percent of indigenous women live on less than USD 1.90 a day.
  • 55 percent of the world’s population resides in cities and this will rise to 68 percent by 2050.
  • The world’s agri-food systems currently employ 1 billion people, more than any other sector.
  • The world’s food systems are currently responsible for more than 33 percent of global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions.
  • 10 percent of people are affected by unsafe food supplies contaminated by bacteria, viruses, parasites or chemical substances.

World Food Day 2021 

World Food Day 2021 will be marked a second time while countries around the world deal with the widespread effects of the global Covid-19 pandemic. It’s a time to look into the future we need to build together.

Our actions are our future

Governments, the private sector, civil society, international organizations and academia will need our help too. We need to influence what is produced by increasing our demand for sustainably produced nutritious foods, and at the same time be more sustainable in our daily actions, first and foremost by reducing food loss and waste. We also have the responsibility to spread the word, building awareness about the importance of a healthy and sustainable lifestyle. Efforts to mitigate climate change, environmental degradation, and our wellbeing, all depend on it. We need to activate a food movement that advocates for ambitious change. 

What can countries do?

  • Ensure that all people everywhere have access to enough affordable, nutritious and safe food by moving towards more efficient, inclusive, resilient and sustainable agri-food systems.
  • Adopt an evidence-based approach to policy-making, which considers diverse areas impacting food systems– agriculture, health, education, environment, water, sanitation, gender, social protection, trade, employment and finance.
  • Acknowledge the importance of innovation, indigenous knowledge and the role of women and youth in transforming food systems.
  • Help smallholder farmers to improve their livelihoods by increasing access to training, finance, digital technologies, extension services, social protection, early warning systems, and crop varieties or animal breeds that are resistant to climate change.
  • Increase nutritional awareness and encourage the private sector to produce more nutritious and sustainably produced foods, manage food waste more responsibly and limit the marketing of unhealthy foods.
  • Invest in infrastructure, affordable technologies and training to minimize post-harvest food loss.
  • Promote food safety by developing and enforcing international standards and control systems and implementing a ‘One Health Approach’ to tackling health threats to animals, humans, plants and the environment.

What can farmers do?

  • Engage in dialogue, participate in extension services, farmers’ organizations, cooperatives or farmer field schools and learn about nutrition, biodiversity, digital technologies and farming techniques to build resilience.
  • Adopt sustainable agricultural practices that respect biodiversity, are more environment-friendly and use natural resources more efficiently.
  • Consider climate-smart agriculture approaches that use natural resources in a sustainable way and use seed varieties or livestock breeds that are more resistant to drought and disease.
  • Minimize losses by harvesting at the right time, improving storage facilities, and learning about best practices and technologies.

What can the private sector do?

  • Limit levels of saturated fats, trans-fats, sugars and salt in products and ensure clear labelling, while improving food safety and quality.
  • Provide decent working conditions and ensure that staff have access to nutritious foods in the workplace.
  • Choose packaging that offers a longer shelf-life and increased food safety, while including biodegradable or recyclable materials.
  • The financial sector should put credit and savings tools in the hands of marginalized communities, including women and youth.

What can academia do?

  • Generate evidence-based knowledge to demonstrate climate change strategies for sustainable food systems, and share this with governments.
  • Universities, schools, technical and vocational education and training centres should provide nutrition education for students.

What can civil society do?

  • Garner support for change by launching campaigns and advocate for healthy and sustainable food choices.
  • Give a voice to the world’s poor, smallholder farmers, indigenous peoples, women and youth, since agri-food systems can only be transformed if everyone is involved.

What can we all do?

  • Choose diverse nutritious foods over highly processed ones, building demand for healthy foods.
  • 2021 marks the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables reminding us to eat more fresh produce and learn about indigenous varieties.
  • Add plant-based protein such as nuts and legumes to our diets, which are cheaper than animal proteins and kinder on our planet.
  • Plan and organize our shopping and food preparation, to avoid spoilage and food waste.
  • Look out for FAO-supported and other labels that attest to sustainable production conditions for producers and the planet.
  • Be an advocate for sustainable healthy diets! Speak up in your community and make sure healthy food is available at schools, care facilities and other public settings.

Source of info: FAO official World Food Day Website


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