The recent Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) report has clearly illustrated that while there has been some advancement, progress has stalled, and in some cases reversed, in vital areas like hunger and inequality — even as the impacts of climate change continue to grow and make it more difficult to get back on track. The deployment at scale of innovative sustainable, nature-positive solutions will be critical to close these gaps.

Famine has become a new and present global risk. More than a quarter of the world’s population was food insecure in 2018, and new estimates suggest that the share is likely to double due to the impact of the health crisis, a sobering reality as we seek to fulfill the SDGs over the next 10 years.

Dramatic shifts in our climate are only making matters worse. Even with the slowdown in economic activities tied to decisions by governments around the world to limit the spread of COVID-19, greenhouse gas levels are at a record high and this year is set to be the hottest or second hottest on record.

That’s why the Food Systems Summit, to be convened next year by the UN Secretary-General, will be essential to engage governments as well as all stakeholders involved in the world’s food system, from producers to consumers and rural farmers to distributors. “It will give us a rare opportunity to drive new political attention to these critical intersectional issues. And more importantly, to mobilize new action that can put our food systems on the more sustainable and resilient course on which all of us depend,” Cousens said.

It is an opportunity we cannot miss, especially as governments and institutions plan their recoveries from COVID-19. It will be critical to make investments that support a greener, fairer, and more resilient future because we already know that food systems are unable to deliver for the most vulnerable when they’re facing such tremendous shocks.

Indeed, urgent action is needed at every level. On a local scale, governments must prioritize knowledge sharing, protect the most vulnerable, and provide training on climate-resilient practices, said Hellen Onyango, a leading cereal grain aggregator in Western Kenya.

Khalid Bomba, CEO of the Ethiopian Agricultural Transformation Agency, underscored the need to strengthen partnerships and invest in data and information systems at the national level.

The international community must also do more to deliver on the Paris Agreement and protect food systems together. At COP 26 next year, countries will have the opportunity to set higher climate goals — and resilience will have to be at the core of this effort, said Nick Bridge, the UK’s Special Representative for Climate Change.

To eradicate the threats posed by climate change, we will have to focus on five key areas: ensuring access to safe and nutritious food, shifting to sustainable consumption, nature-positive production, supporting rural livelihoods, and building resilience.

Read the full article about building resilient global food systems by Ryan Hobert and Evelin Eszter Tóth at United Nations Foundation.