Our call for a consumer approach to meet food and climate crises
Tomorrow world leaders at COP27 will focus on the actions needed to build sustainable and climate-resilient food systems during Adaptation and Agriculture Day. Ahead of this we release, ‘Consumers in crisis: an action agenda for future food systems’, which explains why the global food crisis must be a key focus of this conversation. We cannot tackle climate crisis without transforming our broken food systems, and we cannot deliver food systems transformation without addressing the dire situation facing consumers worldwide.
The impact of the global food crisis has been immediate, widespread, and devastating, exposing the fragility of our overconcentrated and unsustainable food systems. Indeed, in a recent cost-of-living survey of Consumers International Members, 66% of respondents noted that more than half of the population in their country had been ‘seriously affected’ by rising food prices, for instance skipping meals or relying on government support.
Through our action agenda we demonstrate that only diverse, resilient, and sustainable food systems can protect consumers now and in future, that governments must act urgently and decisively to build these food systems, and that the rights and needs of consumers and other stakeholders in the food system must be at the heart of this systemic transformation.
Our research draws on insights shared by our global network of Members on the challenges facing consumers in their countries. It features deep dives in three countries – Kenya, Ecuador, and Indonesia – for which the interconnecting challenges of food security, nutrition, and sustainability are a top priority. It finds that:
- THE IMPACT OF THE FOOD CRISIS HAS BEEN IMMEDIATE, WIDESPREAD, AND DEVASTATING
- FOOD INSECURITY ALSO UNDERMINES FOOD SAFETY, HEALTH, AND SUSTAINABILITY
- THIS CRISIS HAS EXPOSED THE FRAGILITY OF OUR OVERCONCENTRATED FOOD SYSTEMS
- ONLY SUSTAINABLE FOOD SYSTEMS CAN PROTECT CONSUMERS
- ACTION IS NEEDED NOW TO DELIVER FOOD SYSTEMS TRANSFORMATION
WHAT ARE THE SOLUTIONS?
To address food and climate crises, both now and in future we call for action to:
- Protect consumers in crisis, now and in future – through emergency support for the vulnerable, action against excessive prices, and international co-operation to guarantee access for all.
- Build supply chains rooted in food sovereignty and agroecology – by connecting producers and consumers in local food systems, investing in shared infrastructure and shifting subsidies to prioritise people and planet.
- Transform food environments to make good food accessible for all – through stronger standards on safety, nutrition and sustainability, making good food more affordable, and transforming the information ecosystem.
- Develop inclusive and ambitious food governance frameworks – by engaging a diversity of voices, establishing cross-cutting governance, and implementing decision-making frameworks that centre social and environmental well-being.
Consumers International and its Members have long been working for food systems transformation, across issues of food safety, nutrition, sustainability and more. This includes our work at the UN Food Systems Summit (UNFSS) which saw 100 governments lay pathways to food transformation. Here we published a ‘consumer call for action’, which emphasised the importance of inclusive food systems governance and of building cross-cutting solutions.
The current global food crisis demonstrates the need to look more closely at the core issues facing our food systems, and to ensure that government commitments are turned into action. In doing so, we can address both food and climate crises in parallel – as neither will be solved alone. Doing so will not only help to address the current crisis but help to prevent the worst impacts of any future ones.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Contact us to collaborate as we explore opportunities for further research in this space