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The COVID-19 pandemic has made it more challenging to meet global commitments for ending hunger and malnutrition by 2030. 660 million people will still face hunger due to the lasting effects of the pandemic on global food safety. How can we ensure a food systems transformation that is fair, safe, and sustainable for all and that we are building towards a healthy and resilient economy?
Consumers are key actors in food systems. The United Nations Food Systems Summit (UNFSS) presents a unique opportunity to deliver global food systems transformation, bringing together actors from across the globe to develop a cross-cutting plan of action that meets consumers’ universal right to safe and healthy food, produced in a system that is inclusive and fair for all, and that protects and values our environment.
Read more here on how consumer organisations can contribute to more sustainable food systems.
Together with our members across the world, we have put together a series of cross-cutting calls for action at the United Nations Food Systems Summit.
The consumer movement is calling for effective change in key areas that impacts the rights of consumers and will seek to go beyond merely diagnosing problems within food systems, instead offering much-needed insight into what people-centred solutions can and should look like.
To deliver lasting and meaningful change, consumer rights and needs must become a priority, not an afterthought.
Consumers’ calls for change must be heard – and heeded – throughout the food system and across the globe.
Consumers International with our members, have developed a global consumer advocacy statement highlighting key priorities for a food systems transformation. Consumers can offer a vital perspective on the practical constraints – access, availability, affordability – that have long been a barrier to food marketplace transformation and can help to develop innovative game-changing solutions that draw on a deep understanding of consumer rights and needs.
It is no longer viable for food systems to be governed without the input of those who are most dependent upon them. Consumer interests and voices must be built into governance structures.
The United Nations Food Systems Summit is a people’s summit – a first step towards the construction of a people’s food system, one that delivers on the universal right to safe and healthy food, produced in a system that is sustainable and fair for all.
A CRITICAL TIME: Food systems in South Asia are in urgent need of decisive action; the COVID-19 pandemic has undermined progress on food security and exacerbated the long-standing challenge of malnutrition, while the climate crisis poses a growing threat to food systems resilience.
Consumers International, with our members from India and Bangladesh, is proud to have produced a statement and report putting forward policy recommendations for promoting healthy and sustainable diets in South Asia, with the aim of ensuring that commitments to meaningful change are made by both governments at the Summit.
Consumer information, marketing and advertising, food standards, fiscal policy, public procurement, and improving supply chains, are urgent issues that must be addressed.
In Latin America, over 60% of the population is overweight or obese. Consumers are constantly faced with a lack of affordable and convenient healthy food options to sustain a healthy diet. Consumers International and 7 members in Latin America, with the support of the FAO, produced a healthy eating report addressing the growing levels of overweight and obesity in the region based on the rights and needs of consumers.
Consumer advocates call for urgent actions in improving eating habits through a consumer advocacy approach and the need for policy development to tackle these health issues.
Digitalisation has revolutionised all the ways of consumption from staying informed, to making purchasing decisions, it offers many new opportunities to optimise our lifestyle. More importantly, it is recognised as a potential source of innovation and growth for more efficient, climate-smart markets for healthy and nutritious food.
Consumers International is delighted to partner up with Mercy Corps and members of the Innovation Lever of the UNFSS – to produce a ‘Fair Future Marketplace Playbook’ with practical use cases on innovative digital and data advances across food systems. The aim is to enable the development and scale of innovative business models that are directly linked to government, farmer, market, and consumer needs.
In September 2020, Consumers International co-organised and hosted an inaugural Food Systems Dialogue between consumer and farmer organisations with the World Economic Forum. This discussion explored how increasing access to information, developing environmentally sustainable choices and utilising appropriate technologies can help meet the needs of consumers and smallholder farmers.
This year, in partnership with the World Farmers’ Organisation, and as part of the UNFSS independent dialogues process, we held three global dialogues between farmers and consumers. Breaking silos in food systems is essential to tackle cross-cutting issues and when consumer protection and empowerment is taken into account, it is when meaningful and universal solutions can be developed.
Consumers International as a Food Systems Champion at the UNFSS have been kick-starting meaningful conversations with groups of leading advocates, including youth, and indigenous people, on the lead up to the Summit.
‘Agroecological and Regenerative Solutions’, a global discussion led by Ruth Richardson, the Chair of the Champions Network, covered the importance of education towards healthy, resilient, equitable and sustainable food systems.
Helena Leurent, Director-General of Consumers International calls for: “investment in ways that consumers receive information can help them with their choices and understand the way healthy diets and sustainability can be built.”
For over 20 years, Consumers International and our 200 members in more than 100 countries have been championing to enable and empower consumers to choose healthy and sustainable diets. Working in partnership with public health experts and international food standard bodies such as the World Health Organisation (WHO), Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), and Codex Alimentarius has been critical for driving meaningful change in food systems.
Consumer protection and empowerment is key for a food systems transformation that better serves people and the planet.
See below for ways you can support and champion the rights of consumers for the future of food: