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Trócaire CEO, Caoimhe de Barra, highlights importance of strengthening inclusive decision-making processes on food and agriculture both in Ireland and globally.

At the launch of Trocaire’s joint publication, Sustainable Food Systems: Steps Ireland can take to become a global leader , Trócaire’s CEO, Caoimhe de Barra, in her closing summary highlighted the need for a strengthening of inclusive decision making on food systems in Ireland and internationally.

Given the disproportionate impact of multiple interconnected challenges, including food insecurity and climate change, on women, the importance of their meaningful engagement in decision making processes cannot be overstated. In this regard , a gendered analysis of all policies related to food systems is critical, as without same we will firstly miss many solutions but also leave women who are already disproportionately impacted by these challenges further behind. The centrality of food systems to interconnected social, economic and environmental challenges, including the climate and biodiversity emergencies, underlines the urgency of delivering on everyone’s right to adequateood in ways that sustain the very resource base upon which agriculture depends. This means context specific sustainable transformations that are grounded in principles of, social equity, women’s empowerment, economic security and prosperity, environmental regeneration and resilience building to climate change and other shocks.

With Ireland’s draft Agri-Food Strategy 2030 setting out the ambition for Ireland to become a global leader in Sustainable Food Systems over the next decades, Ms. De Barra drew specific attention to the recommendation in the joint report of establishing a national sustainable food systems body that would provide space for the voices of all stakeholders –including the most marginalized in Irish society, as well as development cooperation partners/southern voices to be meaningfully integrated into decision making processes.

Since the UNSG’s announcement of a UNFSS, Ms De Barra welcomed the political focus this has brought to food systems thinking. She expressed the hope that the publication of this report would promote further purposeful debate with diverse stakeholders on food systems in Ireland and internationally. She stressed how  Ireland has a clear opportunity to  demonstrate its support for democratic, inclusive and participatory agriculture and food governance systems through both its participation in the UN Food Systems Summit and in the years after the Summit by supporting a strengthening in the mandate and role of the most inclusive intergovernmental and international platform for food security and nutrition, the Committee on World Food Security and the other UN based Rome food agencies.

5 Key Domestic and Global Takeaways from Sustainable Food Systems Report

1. Increase ODA spending used to support sustainable agriculture-based initiatives

is a key part of the solution in building sustainable global food systems, and Ireland should commit to increasing the proportion of ODA spending on agriculture and food systems directed towards the scaling up and out of agroecological initiativesNote: Agroecology as defined by the FAO (2018) as   ‘an integrated approach that simultaneously applies ecological and social concepts and principles to the design and management of food and agricultural systems. It seeks to optimize the interactions between plants, animals, humans and the environment while taking into consideration the social aspects that need to be addressed for a sustainable and fair food system’.

2. Investing in Irish Farmers is Key to transitioning to sustainable farming

We are calling for a majority of agricultural scheme incentives or rewards to be directed towards sustainable agriculture by 2030. A critical component of would be the co-creation of the scoring system with farmers as a key .

3. Positioning Ireland as global sustainable food systems leader and advocate

Ireland can and should advocate for changes at EU and global level to relevant policy frameworks to ensure unsustainable food production around the world is phased out and sustainable methods of production are supported. Ireland’s efforts for global leadership should extend beyond the UN Food Systems Summit and strengthen the mandate and role of the Committee on World Food Security.

4. Introduce corporate accountability legislation to ensure compliance

We need to introduce effective Human Rights and Environmental Due Diligence legislation to ensure private sector compliance with sustainable food systems approaches. Such legislation will ensure that companies are legally obliged to fulfil human rights and environmental obligations throughout their supply chain – from farm,  to fork. Ireland should actively champion the development of an ambitious, effective and binding UN treaty on business and human rights, to regulate the activities of transnational corporations and other business enterprises.

5. Appropriate monitoring, measuring and implementation tools essential for fair and transparent transition

There needs to be agreement on appropriate sustainable agri-food metrics with input from national and international experts and relevant stakeholders. These metrics should go beyond the classic measures of agricultural productivity to assess food systems against their contribution to nourishing humans and bolstering environmental outcomes (biodiversity, diverse landscape, healthy habitats).  There is also a need for clear mechanisms of accountability and enforcement of targets set out in national policies.

The report is published following publication of Ireland’s draft Agri-Food 2030 Strategy and in advance of the UN Food Systems Summit pre-meetings in Rome next week and follows the release of the SOFI 2021 report, The State of Food Insecurity and Nutrition in the World, which highlights rising global food insecurity and the urgency of delivering on the right to adequate food for all in sustainable ways.

Download a full copy of the Sustainable Food Systems Report

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