International Forum on Food and Nutrition: EU needs a “revolution in thinking” to support sustainable agriculture

The International Forum on Food and Nutrition has been told that the European Union needs a “revolution in thinking” to support sustainable agriculture and nutrition and migration.

By Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at the Parliament Magazine

06 Jun 2018

This was the claim by Paolo Barilla, Vice-Chair of the Barilla Centre for Food and Nutrition (BCFN), Foundation who was speaking in Brussels on Wednesday.

Current EU farm spending - now under review as part of the long term-EU budget (MFF) - emphasises production of commodity products and the preservation of the environment.

Instead, Barilla argued that policies should focus on promoting healthy, nutritious and affordable foods.

Speaking at the International Forum on Food and Nutrition, he said, “We continue to live in a world where a third of food is wasted while nearly one billion people are hungry and in which poverty, hunger and climate change force more and more people from their homes.

“If we want to be serious about tackling these issues we need a different, multidisciplinary approach to agriculture, food, nutrition, rural development and migration policies.”

The forum was organised by the BCFN Foundation, the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network and the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS).

“An important driver of migration is malnutrition and the decline of traditional agriculture,” says Daniel Gros, director of CEPS.

“High subsidies to Western farmers risk driving competing food producers in developing countries out of business.”

Scheduled speakers among the 600 participants for the day-long event include experts from the United Nations, think-tanks, civil society, entrepreneurs and activists including Bob Geldof, in addition to representatives of the European Parliament and European Commission.

The event was told that food is central to all the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agreed in 2015.

These include eliminating hunger, sustainable consumption and production, climate change mitigation and improving human health and wellbeing, among others.

The forum called on 2030 Agenda signatories to establish an intergovernmental panel on food and nutrition.

This would be modelled after the intergovernmental panel on climate change, the high-level group that successfully achieved an international consensus on the measures needed to tackle climate change. Even before reaching an international consensus, “the EU should act”, said Barilla.

Upcoming negotiations over the EU’s budget for the period (2021-2027) offer an urgent opportunity for the Union to address these shortcomings before failures in the current system get “baked in” for another five years, according to Barilla.

The first major reform of the common agricultural policy since 2013, in particular, represents an invitation to the EU to move towards a common agri-food policy emphasising nutritional goals in addition to production and sustainability goals.

“The EU is in a forward-thinking phase right now,” he said, “The question is whether the EU will be serious about sustainable development.”

The BCFN Foundation is a multi-disciplinary research centre, which analyses the causes of economic, scientific, social and environmental factors and the effects they have on the food system.



Read the most recent articles written by Martin Banks - New EU regulations on AI seek to ban mass and indiscriminate surveillance