By: Dr. Pedro Villegas 

“Pay attention to the hungry, both in this country and around the world. Pay attention to the poor. Pay attention to our responsibilities for world peace. We are our brother’s keeper” –George McGovern–

Food systems are at a crossroads between the many issues and contradictions surrounding sustainable development: food and nutritional security, human and ecosystem health, natural resource renewal, climate change, territorial dynamics, political stability, and social justice. All experts worldwide are calling for profound changes in food systems in order to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set by 2030, and the terms of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

Food systems are not just vital for achieving Sustainable Development Goals number 2 “Zero Hunger”; they concern the entire 2030 United Nations Agenda for Sustainable Development. Since agriculture is the world’s main source of employment, investing in it is considered twice as effective at alleviating poverty than investing in any other sector. Farming practices are closely linked to ecosystem health, natural resource diversity and renewal, and Climate Change. Lastly, food insecurity and rural poverty are often the root cause of political instability, conflict and migration.

While the overriding priority for agriculture was for a long time to increase production, this century has brought very different issues. We need to implement a comprehensive transformation in food systems, centering on different paradigms and models from those of the XX century. Some alternatives could be:

  • Drastic changes in consumption patterns, with a shift towards healthy eating;
  • Ensuring that agricultural production and food supply chains play a greater role in sustainable development;
  • Mitigating Climate Change by means of new farming practices;
  • A package of operations aimed at rejuvenating rural territories, etc.

These strategies will not happen on their own. The transformation will hinge on renewing food system governance, giving priority to human development and food and nutritional security, rational resource management, ecosystem health, and fairer development and consumption models. This means adopting new ways of designing, planning and managing programs to support production, consumption, innovation and rural development.

Science has a major role to play in generating vital knowledge, particularly in the technical field, and also in pinpointing the dynamics of transitions, identifying critical and emerging topics, characterizing interactions and compromised, clearing up disagreements between players, exploring possible future scenarios, and enlightening the decisions to be made regarding the solutions to be adapted to the various contexts.

Although changes are generally proposed and made on a local or national level, along very specific lines, the global scope and ambition of this transformation require a governance framework and process on a global scale, particularly as processes for arbitration and for resolving tensions between local and national dynamics.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development relies on flourishing rural areas. The interdependence of rural and urban areas must be acknowledged and used as the basis for a new rural-urban social contract. This would lay the foundations for a civilization that pays its rural areas and their inhabitants for the functions they fulfil and the public goods they provide for our country citizens and exports.

In 2015, the World’s Leaders reached agreement on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, it includes several challenges for developing countries like Belize. If we don’t adopt immediate actions in our agriculture practices, we won’t achieve the expected sustainable development by 2030. It is an alarmingly reality that currently one third of all the food produced in the world is either lost or wasted. Every individual must play an important role in this campaign. All of us, shall become more resilient by making choices that improve our health and protect our environment. Do your part to save food and create a Zero Hunger World!

You can reach your own conclusions.

God bless Belize!

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