UN summit releases policy proposals

A “responsible meat” initiative is a proposal for the United 
Nations’ upcoming Food Systems Summit. | File photo

Ahead of the upcoming United Nations Food Systems Summit, a lengthy list of so-called “game changing” proposals have been released by organizers, including plans for integrating climate plans and developing a “responsible meat” initiative.

Taking place in September, many expect the summit to launch new strategies for achieving the international communities 17 development goals.

That could mean the ushering in of a new era in sustainable policies domestically as Canada increases efforts to hit ambitious targets, such as ending world hunger. The impact holds potential to be felt on farms across Canada.

To get to that point, stakeholders and member states including Canada hosted talks with various groups, starting in December 2020. The result was 2,200 ideas and submissions, according to organizers.

The ideas were boiled down to “a menu of possible actions, which, if undertaken by committed actors joining forces across sectors and stakeholder categories, can support countries make major strides in their national pathways towards more sustainable food systems.”

Among the ideas are policy proposals to develop a “responsible meat” initiative to “incorporate environmental performance, working conditions and animal welfare into production and consumption.”

Another policy proposal considers how to morph domestic subsidies into spurring sustainable production, and consumption, across the globe.

One cluster, or subgroup, is dedicated to integrating national and international plans for enhancing climate resiliency, while another commits to slashing food waste during a transformation to circular economies.

Participants at a pre-summit meeting, being held in Rome at the end of July, will key in on these ideas and be offered an opportunity to scrutinize them.

Organizers say proposals will then be brought to the September event.

Domestically, the University of Guelph’s Arrell Food Institute hosted three independent talks to contribute to the international effort. A summary of its three dialogues provided action points for the federal government to use at the summit.

It proposed that Canada’s Food Policy Advisory Council “can be leveraged domestically to bring voices from across the Canadian food system together and advise on pressing issues.”

Members of that council were announced in February. The Arrell report says that council “can help lead to progress” on the UN’s sustainable development goals.

Evan Fraser, the head of Arrell Food Institute, is also one of 23 members of the council.

Arrell’s report said Canada should also commit to reducing domestic food insecurity by 50 percent by 2030, and create a national framework to measure progress.

Like others have argued, the report also calls for the establishment of a national sustainability benchmarking process to show environmental impacts of agriculture. Plans for this, alongside an organization to oversee the process, are already in motion.

The Canadian Canola Growers Association and Pulse Canada also hosted an independent dialogue ahead of the summit, focusing largely on how growing markets can transform food systems. The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association focused sessions on grazing livestock to build sustainable protein supply chains.

Canada, as a member state, also hosted talks, but the summary of findings from it are not available yet.

The Food Systems Pre-Summit meeting is scheduled for July 26-28 in Rome.

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