The failure of the UN Food Systems Summit to adequately engage civil society is one key reason why hundreds of civil society organisations have decided not to participate.
In 2015 the United Nations General Assembly agreed to a 15 year action plan for sustainable development. The result was a collection of 17 interlinked global goals designed to be a “blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all”. The second sustainable development goal is related to zero hunger. In 2020, to accelerate action around the goals, the UN launched a decade of action. However, the world is not on track to achieve Zero Hunger by 2030. And instead of seeing reductions in hunger, we have seen increases, even before the Covid-19 pandemic.
Recognizing the urgent need for food system change and action, UN Secretary-General António Guterres declared that the UN will convene a Food Systems Summit (FSS) in 2021 as part of the Decade of Action to achieve the Sustainable Development.
The Summit claims it will launch bold new actions to deliver progress on all 17 SDGs, each of which relies to some degree on healthier, more sustainable and equitable food systems, noting that we can build a just and resilient world where no one is left behind.
However, many concerns have been raised about the approach the Summit has taken. Issues have been raised about high-level of corporate influence; lack of grounding in human rights; the lack of a truly transformative vision. Another major concern relates to the undermining of democratic institutions and inclusive multilateralism. This is reinforced by a failure of the FSS to build on the legacy of past World Food Summits.
Why this matters: participation and historical context
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