UNITED NATIONS (PA) – Nations, businesses and foundations pledged billions of dollars to feed the world at an ambitious UN food summit on Thursday, while some anti-hunger groups and experts in Food described the event as too corporate and tech-driven. and up and down.

Organized as part of the annual meeting of the United Nations General Assembly of world leaders, the “Food Systems Summit” aimed to tackle the puzzle of hunger, nutrition, environmental sustainability and inequality. Globally, more than 2 billion people do not have enough to eat, while 2 billion are overweight or obese, and nearly a third of the food produced ends up being thrown away, according to the UN

Meanwhile, climate change poses new challenges for agriculture, even as the production, processing, packaging and distribution of food accounts for one-third of the man-made gases that trap heat and are responsible for global warming. , noted UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

“Food systems can and should play a leading role in addressing all of these challenges,” he said in a video speech at the summit. It took place virtually because of the coronavirus pandemic, which itself led to what the UN called a “dramatic worsening” in hunger last year.

Examining topics ranging from school meals and food waste to funding and salaries, the summit drew speeches from more than 85 presidents and prime ministers and garnered costly financial commitments. Among them: The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation pledged $ 900 million, and the United States announced it would spend $ 10 billion, half at home and half abroad, over five years.

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“We are focused on ending hunger and food insecurity at home and rebuilding our food systems at home and abroad, so that they are more sustainable, more resilient, more inclusive and more equitable. US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said. by video during a press briefing.

The UN called the summit a global and comprehensive effort to involve people in all parts of society and in every corner of the world, saying more than 2,500 ideas were submitted and more than 20,000 people from 190 countries participated – mostly virtually – in a preparatory meeting. in Rome in July.

But more than 500 academics and food sustainability groups, smallholder farming, indigenous peoples and other causes disowned the summit, issuing a statement claiming the event was too close to business interests, too focused. on money and technology as potential and ignored solutions. “The urgent need to address the gross power imbalances that businesses hold over food systems”.

The UN Human Rights Committee, a group of independent experts, echoed these concerns and complained that the summit – scheduled since 2019 – had not “addressed substantially ”the effects of the pandemic.

“The food systems summit has categorically failed,” committee member Michael Fakhri said in a video he tweeted on Wednesday. The University of Oregon law professor is the UN special rapporteur, or outside expert, on the right to food.

“The summit organizers ignored the daily struggles of the people. And who benefits from this agenda? Businesses, ”he said.

UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed told a press briefing that the global body is striving to include “as many constituencies, experiences and representations as possible” in the conference . There have been discussions upstream for indigenous peoples, youth and advocacy groups, she noted.

“I heard it was a ‘colonial capture’,” she admitted. Then the former Nigerian Minister of the Environment recalled her career and that of the UN special envoy to the summit, Agnès Kalibata. Former Minister of Agriculture in Rwanda, Kalibata was born into a family of small farmers and raised in a refugee camp in Uganda.

“There is no colonial capture there,” Mohammed said. She added that there were good reasons to include business interests in the rally: “They have to be part of the solution, given that they have been part of a big part of the problem in many countries.

Ibrahim Mayaki, former Prime Minister of Niger and now director of the African Union development agency, said his continent needs to double food production and get more finance and insurance for small and medium enterprises food, among other measures to be taken.

And, he said, “the commitments that are made must be honored by actions, not by speeches.”

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