Food systems, or the way food is produced and consumed, need a revolutionary transformation for the world to deliver on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. In September of this year, the UN Secretary-General will convene a Food Systems Summit to launch bold new actions across the globe.
In preparation for that Summit, an Arab Regional Food Systems Dialogue will take place virtually on 29 March, on the sidelines of the Arab Forum for Sustainable Development. The event will serve to consolidate regional views, perspectives and experiences, based on the outcomes of the Arab Youth Dialogue on Food Systems and the Arab Stakeholders Dialogue on Food Systems, held by ESCWA and the Regional Office of FAO on 9 and 11 March, respectively.
The Arab Youth Dialogue brought together diverse groups of young people from the region who are engaged in the agriculture, climate change, water security and food systems sectors. They proposed game-changing solutions on how to combat hunger and provide nutritious and safe food for all.
Young people constitute more than 32% of the Arab population, that is, more than 100 million individuals. “This dialogue is intended to raise their voice on how to transform in food systems,” said Reem Nejdawi, Chief of Food and Environment Policy Section at ESCWA.
The Youth Dialogue was also an opportunity to launch a video challenge targeting young people to raise their awareness and involvement in the issues of land degradation and drought in the region. The deadline for registration and idea submission is 31 March, and 30 April for video submission.
In the Arab Stakeholders Dialogue, a wide range of stakeholders, including farmers and commerce unions, agricultural professionals, and private sector and research centers representatives, identified priority actions to improve food systems and agreed that building capacities on new technologies was key for achieving sustainable production and consumption patterns.
“Main drivers affecting food security include conflicts, scarcity of natural resources, climate change, population growth and rapid urbanization,” Jean Marc Faures, FAO Regional Programme Leader, noted.
The two dialogues provided an engaging platform to share experiences and ideas on making the region’s food systems healthier, more inclusive and more sustainable, in addition to enhancing their resilience to COVID-19.
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