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BCFN Foundation, UN SDSN Promise Roadmap to Global Food System Transformation

Image credit: George Steinmetz/BCFN Foundation

The past few weeks have seen a flurry of big announcements and commitments regarding increasing sustainability in a variety of areas, including overhauling our broken food system: Two weeks ago, at the Global Climate Action Summit, FoodShot Global launched a new investment platform aimed at accelerating food system transformation through a “Moonshots for Better Food” challenge to startups working to create a healthier, more sustainable and more equitable food system worldwide; while earlier this week at Climate Week NYCChampions 12.3 — a global coalition dedicated to Sustainable Development Goal Target 12.3, aiming to cut food loss and waste in half by 2030 — launched a new transparency tool and a strategy to halve post-harvest losses in Africa.

Continuing the momentum — and the alignment with the SDGs — today, the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition (BCFN Foundation), in partnership with the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) announced a joint collaboration to develop a roadmap for enabling transformation of the food system at the global level and critical progress towards the SDGs. The two organizations made the announcement at the jointly hosted International Forum on Food and Nutrition, held for the first time in New York City this year, to foster global dialogue and mobilize action toward more sustainable agri-food systems and eating patterns.

The event, organized alongside the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly, highlights the fundamental links between food, nutrition and sustainable development, and stresses the urgency of transforming our food systems now to achieve the SDGs by 2030.

“The challenges our global food system is facing today are unprecedented, but our goals are not unattainable if we simply find ways to work together across all sectors and disciplines,” noted BCFN Foundation Operations Director Anna Ruggerini. “We’ve waited far too long to address these challenges, and now a transformative approach is required. That is why we are joining forces with SDSN to present a concrete roadmap towards the achievement of the SDGs.”

The global food system faces critical challenges and food represents the common thread linking each of the SDGs: Without proper nourishment, children cannot learn, people cannot lead healthy and productive lives, and societies cannot prosper. Research shows far too many people are obese while at the same time three million children under age five die of hunger each year. In addition, natural resources are dramatically overexploited while tons of food are lost or wasted along the value chain.

Extreme weather events are putting a strain on food production and security, while the ecological footprint of agriculture continues to grow.

We have successfully identified the problems with our food systems; the issue now is to take a transformative action to turn them into tangible solutions. At the Forum, the BCFN Foundation and SDSN will announce a detailed roadmap that will guide their efforts in the lead-up to two key UN events in 2019: The UN Climate Summit and the SDG Summit. The common roadmap will be released as part of an outcome document that outlines the role each actor — from researchers and policy-makers to educators and media — can play in driving change and highlights key policy recommendations and commitments to enable food system transformation. The calls to action include promoting knowledge and action on sustainable diets; developing sustainable land-use models; promoting research analysis and case collection, and effectively monitoring progress; and promoting science-based education for the food leaders of tomorrow.

“We hope that the concrete BCFN-SDSN roadmap will serve as a guidepost for food and sustainability stakeholders to close the gap between idea and action, and accelerate the much needed and urgent shift toward sustainable food systems,” Ruggerini said.

As part of its efforts to drive food system change to help achieve the SDGs, BCFN Foundation also released preliminary findings from its most recent Food Sustainability Index (FSI) — a global study on nutritional challenges, sustainable agriculture and food loss and waste — developed in partnership with the Economist Intelligence Unit. The study found that, for example, Italy’s lagging efforts on addressing nutritional challenges are reflected in falling health among the country’s population; childhood obesity rates are among the highest of any country in the Index. However, the country has placed emphasis on nutrition education in schools; maintaining portion, content and nutrient-based standards for meals served. Italian agro-biotech is an area where cooperation between research, businesses and capital is growing rapidly.

According to the FSI, since the advent of the current administration, the US has few concerted efforts at the national level to promote healthy policies for children and/or adults that could reduce nutritional issues such as obesity, leading to increased decline of health among the population. In addition, there has been a stark deterioration in environmental biodiversity in the past year, with nearly 57 percent of local species being at risk of distinction and over 32 million hectares of tree cover loss occurring in the country since 2001. Moreover, food waste continues to be one of the biggest challenges in the US; in an effort to address this issue, legislation on food recovery is being developed at the federal and state levels, and the federal government has adopted the US 2030 Food Loss and Waste Reduction Goal, which aims to halve food loss and waste across the domestic food chain by the year 2030.

At the Forum, the BCFN Foundation also emphasized how each individual has a role to play in shaping the future of the global food system and can minimize environmental impact by adopting sustainable diets, inspired by the Foundation’s Double Food and Environmental Pyramid.

“I greatly admire the leadership of BCFN Foundation in taking on the global challenge of fostering a nutritious, quality and sustainable food supply for all. This challenge requires holistic thinking — about culture, economy, climate, biodiversity and health — and BCFN Foundation spurs the needed

understanding,” noted Jeffrey Sachs, Director of SDSN and Special Advisor to the UN Secretary General. “Our aim is for BCFN Foundation and the UN SDSN to work together to present creative, cutting-edge solutions for policy makers, and a deeper understanding of the challenges and solutions for society as a whole.”

To watch the archived event webcast, visit this link.

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