Billions pledged and awareness raised, but UN food summit fails to heal divisions

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The first-ever Food Systems Summit, held virtually last week, raised the profile of global food challenges and touted thousands of potential solutions. But the divisions that marred the lead-up to the UN-run event show little signs of healing, and some critics branded it a failure, The New Humanitarian reported.

In a whirlwind of videos and speeches, more than 150 attendees – from 86 world leaders to dozens of donors, farmers, Indigenous representatives, UN officials, and business executives – laid out their visions of a well-fed future based on fairer, more nutritious, and greener food systems.

Amid some technical difficulties and translation problems, donors pledged nearly $11 billion – the bulk of it from the US government – over the next five years. A dizzying array of new initiatives and coalitions were announced: from repurposing agricultural subsidies and resizing the livestock industry to supporting Indigenous food systems and improving school meals.

“There was much to celebrate in the Food Systems Summit,” Edward Davey, international engagement director of the Food and Land Use Coalition (FOLU) and an adviser to Britain’s team hosting the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, told The New Humanitarian. “The summit has catalysed greater action, by a broader set of players, than was the case before; and given rise to dynamic and innovative new partnerships which could make a real difference.”

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