Food Systems Summit Examines Systems Resiliency, Growth Opportunities

The U.S. Grains Council (USGC) joined a coalition of U.S. industry stakeholders at the United Nations (UN) Food Systems Summit in September to promote the benefits of biotechnology, science-based risk assessment and trade when building more resilient food systems.

Jack Custard, USGC’s manager of trade policy, was involved in the Summit that served as a time for virtual attendees from around the world to discuss how to transform the way the world produces, consumes and thinks about food. The Summit took a close look at how leveraging the power of food systems can help drive the recovery from COVID-19.

“The Food Systems Summit was an opportunity for the Council to identify and collaborate with allies in industry and government to construct agriculture-positive solutions to build a more resilient food system,” Custard said. “The Summit will act as a catalyst for the UN’s Decade of Action, and the Council believes it would be paramount to stress the importance of trade and technology as solutions to the challenges ahead in reforming food systems.”

A “food system” is every person and process involved in growing, raising or making food, like those working daily in agricultural operations. Food systems play a large role in everyday life, impacting health, the environment, the economy and cultures around the world.

Throughout the event, attendees heard from government leaders including U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. Vilsack, with Samantha Power, administrator for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), covered considerations for transforming sustainable food systems.

“The United States and United Arab Emirates are spearheading a global initiative – the Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate – with a goal of dramatically increasing public and private investment in climate-smart agriculture and food systems innovation,” Vilsack said.

“We are also excited to launch a new coalition on Sustainable Productivity Growth for Food Security and Resource Conservation to motivate collective action to accelerate sustainable agricultural productivity growth that benefits farmers, consumers and the planet. I invite all of you to join us.”

This year’s Summit had four goals: to generate significant action and measurable progress toward the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; raise awareness and elevate public discussion about how reforming food systems can help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by implementing reforms good for people and the planet; develop principles to guide governments and other stakeholders looking to leverage their food systems to support the SDGs; and create a system of follow-up and review to ensure the Summit’s outcomes continue to drive new actions and progress.

“At the UN level, some of the major takeaways were the implementation of solutions using finance, government, science, innovation and technology, along with advocating for nature-based solutions to optimize environmental resources,” Custard said. “Bi-annual meetings will also be held to assess the progress being made in strengthening food systems.”

The Food Systems Summit and the conversations held there were intended to help continue building on the work that has already been done to grow the awareness surrounding food systems.

Learn more about the Food Systems Summit.