Connect with us

World News

COP26: the Many Links Between Food Systems & Climate Change: Message to Glasgow



Ruth RichardsonOpinion by Ruth Richardson (toronto, canada)Tuesday, November 02, 2021Inter Press Service

Today’s industrialized food system — which includes the growing, harvesting, processing, packaging, transporting, marketing, consumption, and disposal of food and food-related items — makes us ill, doesn’t meet the needs of the global population, and has adverse effects on climate change.

Almost a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions come from food systems. The industrialized practices — from chemical pesticide use to mono-culture crops — at the heart of the dominant global food system have also destroyed 66% of biodiversity, 61% of commercial fish stocks, and 33% of soils.

Then there’s food wastage which equates to 1.3 billion tonnes a per year and produces enough GHG emissions that, should it be a country, it would be the third-largest source of GHG emissions.

We know that waste and loss occur throughout the food supply-chain and mostly involve the waste of edible food by consumers in medium- and high-income countries and loss during harvest, storage, and transport in lower-income countries.

Both food waste and the resulting GHG emissions raise major equity and ethical considerations.

Of course, those detrimental climate impacts then come back to roost in a variety of ways, affecting weather patterns and the very land or seas that are heavily relied upon for crops, fish, and other food.

Ruth RichardsonThe resulting lack of ability to grow or access food then becomes a major driver in malnutrition (in all its forms) within communities, with the impacts felt worst by the most vulnerable in our societies — smallholder farmers, the poor, and women.

The 2021 State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World estimates that around a tenth of the global population – up to 811 million people – were undernourished last year. Do we really need any other signals that the industrialized food system is simply no longer fit for purpose?

The globalized food system must be overhauled so that food production can be delivered in a way that works with, rather than destroys, our natural resources and pushes planetary boundaries.

It is precisely action on food that is critical to restoring planetary health, radically reducing carbon emissions, protecting nature and biodiversity, and also delivering on all Sustainable Development Goals, from zero hunger to good health and wellbeing for all.

Despite a diversity of evidence making this need for transformation abundantly clear — from scientific reports and peer-reviewed literature to lived experience, oral histories, and ways of knowing — the action we need is still not where it should be on the political agenda: at the top.

The risk to climate commitments

There is hardly any mention of food systems in the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDCs) plans — the non-binding national plans that highlight countries’ actions to tackle climate change — that we’ve assessed to date.

The Global Alliance for the Future of Food is a strategic alliance of philanthropic foundations working to transform global food systems. Out of eight assessments of countries’ NDCs we have done so far, none fully account for emissions associated with food imports, particularly those related to deforestation.

Research shows that, in the average European diet, a sixth of the carbon footprint comes from deforestation emissions. Meat and dairy production already use 30% of the Earth’s land surface, driving unsustainable land-use as land is cleared to produce more and more livestock and the crops that feed them.

Only Germany provides a clear commitment to move away from harmful subsidies and to promote sustainable food consumption, and, just Colombia and Kenya have put forward ambitious measures around agroecology and regenerative agriculture.

These concepts promote sustainable farming approaches that compliment nature’s systems rather than diminish them and respect human rights.

Action to be taken

Unless others follow suit, all climate efforts will be undermined and any commitments negotiated in Glasgow that lack a systemic and global approach to food systems transformation will simply be inadequate given the vast mitigation and adaptation potential that the sector holds.

Governments worldwide must look at food systems through the lens of climate action and find new and restorative ways of feeding communities, without pushing the planet to the limits. Fortunately, approaching climate adaptation and mitigation in the context of food systems broadens the range of opportunities to achieve climate goals and facilitates the consideration of systems level effects and interactions.

A food systems perspective also enables engagement of the full range of stakeholders that should be involved in food systems transformation such as those from other sectors as well as local and Indigenous groups that have knowledge of the issues.

Such a perspective is critical to addressing climate change and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, which are all linked by food as the golden thread.

Tried and tested methods of agroecology and regenerative agriculture already exist for others to roll out and replicate. For example, in India, chemical-free farming has been used by the 600,000 farmers involved in the Andhra Pradesh Community Managed Natural Farming programme to tackle soil degradation — which includes erosion, desertification, and other changes in soil that reduce its capacity to provide ecosystem services — and produce more variety of crops.

Research shows that farming without the addition of synthetic fertilizer or pesticides is leading to incredible reductions in pollution and emissions, and better wages and earnings for farmers.

Meanwhile, while in Africa, in the Luangwa Valley of Zambia, COMACO — the social enterprise promoting agroforestry — is retraining poachers to be farmers, tackling deforestation, reporting significant impacts in carbon offset, and putting an end to wildlife killing.

Alongside these ‘beacons of hope’ governments could also promote nutritious, sustainable, whole-food diets adapted to local ecosystems and socio-cultural contexts, acting on the interconnections between food and climate.

There’s a growing body of research that shows that dietary change can help tackle climate change. For example, increased GHG emissions have been associated with diets higher in animal products.

Yet, historically, this has received less consideration in climate policy than, say, the energy and transport sectors. Policymakers have it in their power to catalyze initiatives that enable and create positive food environments that provide equitable access and dietary guidance.

There are steps governments can immediately take, ready-made policies they can adopt, partnerships they can forge. We have the evidence, we have the science, we have the urgency.

What we need now is to see the political will and climate finance moving alongside bravery and connected action from our leaders so that we can all live better, as well as sustainably, on this one Earth of ours.

Ruth Richardson is Executive Director, Global Alliance for the Future of Food

Follow IPS News UN Bureau on Instagram

© Inter Press Service (2021) — All Rights ReservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service

Source Here:

World News

Africa Should Bargain Hard for COVID Vaccine Equity: Lessons From Indonesia During Avian Flu



Opinion by Victoria Fan, Steve Kuo (manoa, hawaii / taipei, taiwan)Monday, December 06, 2021Inter Press Service

These travel bans are more injury upon the injury of low vaccination in Africa. Even well-intentioned rallying phrases such as “vaccine apartheid” or “vaccine equity” still lack the moral weight, indignation, and urgency that we should all feel, no matter which country we live. Words fail us.

How can it be that—even now—vast swaths of a continent go without access to these lifesaving vaccines? How is this situation even possible, let alone acceptable? For sure, there’s not been enough vaccines arriving to African countries.

Flowery donor pledges gone unfilled are no better than empty promises. Some say it’s the monopolized production from a vaccine company based outside of Africa or intellectual property issues.

Others cite supply chain and cold chain problems, the need for refrigeration, and lack of electricity. Still others note vaccine hesitancy and misinformation. Throw in “corruption” and “poor governance.” Yadda yadda yadda.

Let us please transfer all the energy spent on the manufacturing of excuses to create ideas for how we’ll get vaccines to Africa.

One thing we should have learned during COVID-19 is that so-called “leaders” are amazing at coming up with excuses for things not getting done. Let’s remind ourselves of the HIV pandemic when world “leaders” were hesitating to distribute antiretroviral treatment to so-called “developing countries.”

There was even an administrator of USAID, supposedly a leading aid agency, who conveniently came up with a racist excuse that the reason why Africans couldn’t get treatment against HIV was because they couldn’t tell time.

Excuses easily come out of the human mouth. Let us please transfer all the energy spent on the manufacturing of excuses to create ideas for how we’ll get vaccines to Africa.

If Africa can’t get the vaccines it needs, perhaps Africa should take a play from the Indonesian playbook during the 2007 avian flu.

The Indonesian Government argued that its decision in January 2007 to stop sending avian flu samples (H5N1 virus) to the WHO’s reference labs was justifiable because the samples provided freely from lower-income countries were used by companies in higher-income countries to develop vaccines that the lower-income countries couldn’t afford and couldn’t benefit from.

Indonesia wanted a guarantee that it would benefit from the samples it provided. After months of withholding the samples, WHO and the Indonesian government eventually came to an agreement and changed the terms of reference for sample sharing.

As Sedyaningsih et al noted in 2008, “This event demonstrates the unresolved imbalance between the affluent high-tech countries and the poor agriculture-based countries.” Their words still hold true more than a decade later.

When dealing with those who are habituated to a “me first” mentality, you must negotiate and bargain hard. African countries trying to gain support through an idealistic notion of global solidarity will fail unless applying “shrewd business practices.” Not just African countries, but the whole world will fail.

So, negotiate hard. Know what your opponent wants the most, and don’t give them what they want so easily till you get what you need. Empty promises and excuses won’t stop COVID-19, but hard bargaining might.

Victoria Y. Fan, ScD, is an associate professor and interim director of the Center on Aging at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and a non-resident fellow at the Center for Global Development. Steve Kuo, MD, PhD, served as director of Taiwan Centers for Disease Control including during SARS, and most recently he was the president of National Yang Ming University, now National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University.

Follow IPS News UN Bureau on Instagram

© Inter Press Service (2021) — All Rights ReservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service

Original Post:

Continue Reading

World News

First Person: ‘Trafficking Is a Crime Can Happen in Front of Our Eyes’



Saturday, December 04, 2021UN News

This feature has been edited for clarity and length. Mr. Chatzis was talking to Melissa Fleming, the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications. You can hear the full interview on the UN podcast, Awake at Night.

“Human trafficking and migrant smuggling have evolved a lot since I first took over this job. They have become more severe, in the sense of what the criminals involved inflict on people. There is more violence, victims are younger and there are more child victims.

It is a crime that can sometimes happen in front of our eyes, as we go to work, do our shopping, drive our children to school or meet friends for dinner. There are industries that we come into contact with in our everyday lives, like hospitality, agriculture, construction, and others where trafficking victims are exploited.

Traffickers in Europe take groups of children from country to country and force them to beg. Then they take all the money and often let them starve. For criminals, it is all about the money, and people are just a way to make a profit.

We have to accept that the criminals are real people themselves. They have friends, families, and children. They may even work within the organizations that are supposed to be tackling these crimes, like the police or immigration service and abuse their profession.

© UNICEF/Jim Holmes

A mother whose daughter was trafficked at the age of sixteen covers her face to protect her identity.

‘Every trafficking story can shake you to your core’

Every trafficking story can shake you to your core. It affects children, even babies can be victims. There are girls and women of all ages being sexually exploited, and men that desperately seek employment, and find themselves in the hands of criminal gangs who then use them for forced labour and other purposes.

We now have the online aspect of the crime. Videos and images of sexual exploitation are being distributed around the world through different channels. You can remove them from one platform, but they appear on another one.

I always feel that we could all do more against this crime. In the long term, we need to really look into our model of development and how our economies are structured. The private sector has an important role to play in these efforts and a responsibility to act.  


Ilias Chatzis and Yatta Dakowah, the UNODC Representative in Brussels, during a special session of the EU Parliament on migration – Brussels, Belgium – 2017.

‘Focus on how to stop the criminals’

With migrant smuggling, we need to focus on how to stop the criminals and not the migrants. Smuggling gangs make a lot of profit from people who are seeking a better life. While trying to stop the criminals, we should not forget the migrants themselves and the need to respect their dignity, human rights and offer protection to those that need it.

Human trafficking is not a crime that is happening only in the developing world. It occurs in every region. According to our latest Global Report on Trafficking in Persons, 148 countries out of the UN 193 Member States reported human trafficking cases in the last two years.

The team I lead is working all over the world to support countries to fight human trafficking and migrant smuggling. Through the services we provide, frontline responders, police authorities, prosecutors and judges are better equipped to protect victims of trafficking and smuggled migrants and secure convictions of the perpetrators.

I have seen a lot of human suffering in my career. I saw it first-hand when I was based in the former Yugoslavia. I experienced the uprooting of people by war, the exploitation of people by others, the links between organized crime and war, the breaking up of families and the desire to go back to where you belong, but the inability to do it, because things have changed so much that you would not recognise the place. 

We still have so much to learn from ourselves and from history. We are not learning fast enough. I took this job to hopefully make a difference. I am really trying to make sure that what I do has some real positive impact.”

© UN News (2021) — All Rights ReservedOriginal source: UN News

Original Article:

Continue Reading

World News

From the Field: ‘climate-smart’ Development in an Uncertain World



UNDPSolar powered water pump in NepalFriday, December 03, 2021UN News

Solar water facility in Ethiopia, by UNDP

Every solution is different, and is adapted to the needs of each community. From micro-hydropower in Nepal, to decentralizing access to water systems in Colombia, climate-proofing rural settlements in Rwanda, and building more integrated national adaptation plans in Bhutan.

As countries work to reduce their carbon footprint and adapt to climate change, reduce risks, and build more resilient societies, important progress is being made towards a more sustainable future. Find out more here.

© UN News (2021) — All Rights ReservedOriginal source: UN News

Original Post:

Continue Reading