No future for SDG2 without food systems transformation

Discussions in New York shall put the human right to food at the center to reverse increasing rates of hunger and malnutrition in the effort to achieve SDG2.

With SDG2 doomed to fail, the High Level Political Forum (HLPF) will meet today to discuss the way forward to ensure food security for all. In a context where the COVID-19 pandemic has made the root causes of hunger and malnutrition and the fragility of the global industrialized food system more evident, it is clear that we need a radical transformation of how we produce, consume and distribute food. 

FIAN International has submitted a contribution highlighting the imminence of a transition towards more healthy, sustainable and just food systems. This requires States support to food systems that are centered on the rights of indigenous peoples and peasants, and which guarantee the participation of small food producers in food governance and takes power asymmetries into account. If we want to ensure people’s right to food, the transformation of food systems must go hand in hand with food sovereignty, agroecology, gender justice and corporate accountability along the value chains. 

This need for transformation is strongly highlighted in the background note up for discussion today. Prepared by major groups from civil society and UN bodies, the note concludes that “business as usual, is not an option and food systems need to be re-thought in a radical manner” and that the COVID-19 crisis is offering an opportunity “to build back better” agricultural systems and practices. 

The note also calls for “a social agenda”, which ensures “the realization of the right to food, the full respect and realization of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and other people working in rural areas and the ILO Conventions protecting the rights of rural workers”. Such agenda must also be in place to “improve equitable and sustainable access to land and connected natural resources along the lines of the CFS Voluntary Guidelines on Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests” as well as “ensure protection of food and agricultural workers’ rights and decent labor conditions”. Buying food from local family farmers and small–scale producers for schools and other government-supported meal programs is strongly emphasized - a measure that would have been particularly effective during forced lockdowns.

An important highlight of the note is the need for robust safeguards against conflicts of interest and a human rights orientation of public policy for the effective transition of our food systems. FIAN International underscores, that not only this step is required, but that business activities must be regulated.

“If states are serious in the struggle against hunger and malnutrition, they shall put the right to food and particularly the rights of peasants, indigenous peoples and other rural communities at the center of food systems’ transformation - not just as part of a social agenda. Without state action along these lines, the SDG2 will remain as a mere aspiration,” says Daniel Fyfe, Monitoring Coordinator at FIAN International.


•    FIAN International’s contribution to the discussions is based on years of experience with movements and affected communities around the world, more recently reflected in its monitoring work on the impact of COVID-19
•    In response to the upcoming “The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2020” by UN FAO, FIAN International will release “The State of the Right to Food and Nutrition 2020” on July 20, which offers an alternative, people’s realities view of the current situation of today’s world challenges and solutions.