IMF calls for sustainable food systems in a post-Covid world
Published on July 19, 2020 | News Source: ANI
Washington , July 18 : The rebuilding of economies after Covid-19 crisis offers a unique opportunity to transform the global food system and make it resilient to future shocks, ensuring environmentally sustainable and healthy nutrition for all, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said.
Food systems are at the cross-roads of human, animal, economic and environmental health. Ignoring this exposes the world economy to ever-larger health and financial shocks as climate changes and global population grows. "By prioritising food system reforms in our 'build forward' agendas, we can instead make concrete inroads toward the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Agreement," said IMF in a blogpost written by Nicoletta Batini, James Lomax, and Divya Mehra.
Pandemic-induced runs on food, however, do not merely reflect human behaviour during emergencies. They are evidence that the global food supply chain -- highly centralised and operating on a just-in-time supply basis -- is prone to falter in the face of shocks.
In many countries, for example, it became impossible to harvest or package food as workers were blocked at borders or fell sick. Elsewhere, stocks piled up and avalanches of food went to waste because restaurants and bars were closed.
In developing countries, the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organisation and the World Food Programme expect that a 'hunger pandemic' and a doubling of people starving may soon eclipse the coronavirus, unless action is taken.
The IMF blogpost said 2020 will be a year of reckoning for the world's food systems. In just months, Covid-19 shut down half the globe. Images of panic buying, empty grocery shelves and miles-long queues at food banks have suddenly shown how important food systems are and how imbalanced they have become.
Cracks in the global food system's facade have long been apparent. According to the latest State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World, already in 2018 about 820 million people went to bed hungry and a third of all people lacked essential nutrients.
At the same time, 600 million people were categorised as obese and two billion overweight because of imbalanced diets which were also associated with obesity, diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular diseases that compromise immune health.
Immuno-depressed and malnourished people worldwide are suffering disproportionally the lethal consequences of Covid-19. In all these cases, the human toll comes with huge economic costs, including lost incomes and soaring public debt.
The IMF has thus called for building resilient food supply chains, promoting healthy diets, shifting towards regenerative farming and promoting conservation efforts in line with recent proposals by the UN Environment Assembly.