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Food justice at the center of political dialogue

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Food justice at the center of political dialogue

If the next G7 under the Italian presidency really wants to have a focus on Africa and the Mediterranean area – as seems evident from the many institutional declarations and from the Italy-Africa Conference -, the theme of food crises must necessarily have a prominent place during the summit.

Even before officially knowing the priorities of the summit, Italian civil society – gathered in Civil-7 and coordinated by GCAP Italia – proposed the issue of food justice at the center of the political dialogue, which took place last 18 January in Rome, with various high-level institutional representatives of the ministries involved. Some of the considerations and recommendations expressed here represent the result of a common work of the Italian C7 group, called “Food justice and transformation of food systems”.

Food systems essential to our future

I food systems in fact they are central to social well-being and the paradigm of our future: for the health of ecosystems, food and nutritional security, culture and landscape. At the same time, they pose crucial challenges regarding the reduction of biodiversity, water consumption, greenhouse gas emissions and groundwater pollution, with serious implications for human health. They suffer from climate change and contribute to it.

An integrated approach is therefore needed to respond to such an urgent issue: the latest FAO Report on the state of food insecurity in the world states that last year 783 million people suffered from hunger (122 million more than in 2019), while 3.1 billion do not have access to an adequate and healthy diet. A scenario that makes one the goal of “Zero Hunger” by 2030 is a chimeraas foreseen in the UN Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The structural causes underlying hunger

In all of this, the structural causes of hunger are still the same and have not abated. In the post-pandemic, conflicts and the climate issue remain the determining factors of the status quo. Caused largely by geopolitical factors: from the protracted conflict in Ukraine to the widespread political crisis in the Sahel, from the protracted conflicts in Yemen, Somalia and Syria to the humanitarian drama unfolding in East Africa. Climate chaos, which manifests itself with increasing and dramatic frequency now on a global scale, has in fact one of its critical points precisely in Africa and in the area of ​​the so-called enlarged Mediterranean.

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We then witness one financial speculation increasingly intense which affects inflation, especially if we look at the unjustified increases in food prices, aggravated by other phenomena, such as the grabbing of land in ever larger areas. An element that exacerbates inequalities and is an obstacle to access to food for millions of people. Added to these are policies of disincentive to strategic public food reserves by the World Trade Organization (WTO), trade agreements that increase the opportunity gap and an inconsistent framework of global and European policies.

Civil society’s proposals for an agro-ecological transition

From this analysis of the causes arises a wide range of political proposals and actions to be undertaken. We propose here some of them which concern the G7 process and pose the possibility of achieving a reversal of direction in the direction of agro-ecological transition. Others, equally fundamental, on climate, health, the role of women and young farmers, we will however bring to the attention of the G7 governments.

Human rights

The centrality of the international human rights framework in the G7 certainly extends to the issue of food justice and the need for i human rights are incorporated into the transformation of food systems. This approach must be translated into priorities, recalling the need to respect, protect and promote human rights, and the importance of participation, transparency and responsibility of rights holders and duty bearers and third parties, in the transformation of our food systems.

Investments and trade

At the same time everyone investments should comply with environmental standards and on human rights, whether public or private. When the latter are subsidized with public funds, we believe that there must be a stronger and more marked focus on adopting models of business sustainable and inclusive, such as cooperatives, social enterprises and associations of small producers, especially women, who already integrate the cost of environmental and social compliance.

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Greater attention must also be paid to the need to ensure that multilateral and bilateral trade agreements and World Trade Organization (WTO) guidelines disincentivising strategic public food reserves do not undermine or contradict efforts to abandon a food system incompatible with the limits of the planet and with the necessary support for territorial approaches.

The governance of food systems

Finally, in the ongoing dialogue and negotiation processes on sustainable food systems at a national, European and global level, an approach must be found multi-stakeholder, lacking democratic legitimacy, and define clear responsibilities, through rules useful for mitigating imbalances of power and conflicts of interest, as demonstrated by the strong limitations of the UN food systems summit in supporting paths of real transformation of food systems and valorising the contribution of civil society. Therefore, it is necessary reaffirm the UN Food Security Committee (CFS) as the leading international, multi-actor and intergovernmental policy platform on food security and nutrition that promotes policy coordination, convergence and coherence to realize the right to adequate nutrition.

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