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UN Food Systems Summit: Breakthrough or Missed Opportunity?

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Gödöllő, Hungary, Nov 4 2021 (IPS) - UNSG Antonio Guterres convened the first-ever UN Food Systems Summit which took place on 23-24 September. The Summit preparation had a well-designed structure with remarkable and appreciated leadership of Amina Mohammed, UN DSG. Due to the hard work of the UN Special Envoy, Agnes Kalibata, and her whole Team, the organisation and logistics of the Summit was excellent.

The Summit’s main outcome is the Secretary-General’s Chair Summary and Statement of Action, “calling on the world to keep its promises for a better future through food systems that work for people, planet and prosperity”. This Statement was not negotiated in an inter-governmental process and it is not legally binding. Still, it has a series of powerful messages trying to orient stakeholders in their policy decisions.

In order to involve the broader public and to bring together a diversity of stakeholders, Food Systems Summit Dialogues were proposed. National Dialogues were organized by governments, but also regional and global dialogues were held in order to align with global events on major issues like climate, environment, health, economies and jobs, humanitarian aid and water. The Synthesis Reports analyse the outcomes of 850+ Dialogues, in which 100,000 people from around the world participated.

In spite of its virtual setting, the Summit gathered 37,000 registered delegates and was viewed by more than 50,000 people from 193 countries. 165 Member States delivered statements, 78 of which were delivered by Heads of State or Government, clearly confirming that the Summit was very much timely and relevant. To share an overview of the engagement process and the richness of findings, knowledge generated in the lead up to the Summit, a Food Systems Summit Compendium was posted online.

Considering these impressive figures, the Summit seems to be a huge success. In fact, it had a number of positive outcomes, but the most important achievement is that the Summit took place and generated a lot of insightful discussions at local, national and global level.

Was the Summit a real success? Was it a Breakthrough or a Missed Opportunity? It was undoubtedly a success from the above perspective, but looking at some details below, the picture is more complex and nuanced.

1. The Summit was not sufficiently inclusive, important stakeholders were not around the table, such as organisations representing hundreds of millions of the rural poor, including smallholders, family farmers, indigenous peoples’ groups and many others. The Summit had a “Top-down” start and the whole process remained influenced by powerful groups’ interests. 

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Autor: Zoltán Kálmán   Quelle: ipsnews 8th November 2021
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