Suva, Fiji – A first-time dialogue on the complexity of food systems in the Pacific and the challenges they face in a warming world is set to inform a global food systems summit held by the United Nations in September.
The Pacific Food Systems Dialogue, held on May 20, convened national governments, NGOs, scientists and researchers and community representatives from across the Pacific to produce recommendations for a set of game changing actions that tackle the challenges – including climate change, nutrition and non-communicable diseases – facing Pacific countries in realizing equitable benefits from the global food system.
“This dialogue is vital not only to find solutions for the mounting challenges food systems in Pacific face, but also to familiarize a global audience at the September Summit with the case that the region makes a significant, but under recognized, contribution to global food systems,” said Karen Mapusua, Land Resources Division Director at the Pacific Community (SPC).
SPC hosted the virtual Dialogue, which looked at current issues facing food systems and actions that can be taken to improve them, both immediately and in the future. Participants discussed current and forward-looking solutions, and how these solutions intersect with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, through groups dedicated to five specific Pacific challenges – safe and nutritious food, consumption, nature positive production, livelihoods, and resilience. Additional focus points included the particular needs and possibilities for Atoll islands and the priorities of youth in the region.
The Pacific Dialogue is the one of a number of regional and independent dialogues that along with national dialogues will feed into the global UN Food Summit, held in September at UN Headquarters in New York. The Summit seeks to launch bold new actions to transform the way the world produces, consumes and thinks about food in order to contribute to all 17 Sustainable Development Goals, each of which relies to some degree on healthier and more sustainable and equitable food systems.
“The Pacific has some of the world’s highest rates of non-communicable diseases, yet our abundant ocean waters provide over 50 percent of the world’s tuna catch,” said, Amelia ‘Afuha’amango Tu’ipulotu, the Honourable Minister for Health for Tonga.
“The health and livelihoods of Pacific peoples are tied to both local and global food systems, and we must act both locally and globally to manage climate change and other risks to ensure no one is left behind.”
Pacific Dialogue outcomes will be further refined for Pacific representatives in New York to present at the September Summit. SPC kicked off the Dialogue process with a webinar held on May 7 that looked at local food systems through the eyes of a local boy and a fruit bat interacting with the food system in their community on a typical day.