National Newswatch

Countries still wrestling with nutritional issues for all of their citizens.


Ottawa—Canada is among the leaders in agriculture sustainability and food waste reduction among G20 countries, says an assessment report by the Economist Intelligence Unit and the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition.

The two partners, which developed the international Food Sustainability Index (FSI), took a special look at the G20 members because they are in a position to drive change in reducing food loss and waste, sustainable agriculture, and nutritional challenges.

“With less than a decade to meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of eradicating hunger, reducing malnutrition and accelerating climate action, making our food systems more sustainable requires leadership and bold action. The G20 group of large and advanced economies has a crucial role to play,” the report card said.

“Together, the G20 members account for 60 per cent of our population, 75 per cent of our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and 80 per cent of our economic output. This economic influence translates into an environmental responsibility.”

The G20 countries have an opportunity to set an example for other countries around the world, the report said. “The Covid-19 pandemic has shone a light on the need to build food systems that are not just sustainable, but also healthy, inclusive and resilient.”

The G20 foreign ministers are focusing on food security and agriculture ministers are examining how to build the resilience and sustainability of agricultural sectors.

The G20 countries need to come out of the pandemic able to build “better systems that can provide nutritious diets while healing the planet.”

The report singled out Canada, Japan, Germany and France as tops in combining strong outputs with robust policy responses, although there remains room for improvement. “Action on food loss and waste is evident across the group, but more can be done to implement binding legislation that holds all stakeholders accountable.”

All G20 countries have some form of sustainable agriculture policies but most need to be improved. They also have policies and programs to encourage healthy eating patterns. “However, few have gone as far as incorporating sustainability into their food-based dietary guidelines (FBDGs), and most continue to subsidize the sugar industry.”

Most G20 countries have some programs for reducing food waste and loss but are finding it difficult to measure how much food is being lost or wasted.

The pandemic has made the consequences of unsustainable agricultural practices clearer. Issues around biodiversity, deforestation and the rearing conditions of livestock have grown in importance, given the links shown between damage to the environment and the ability of zoonotic diseases to jump from animals to humans.

“The increasing consolidation of the agricultural sector in recent decades suggests that major progress could be made if emissions were lowered, even by a small fraction, by the sector’s largest producers. Moreover, a healthy and sustainable diet remains out of reach for millions of people living in the G20.”

The pandemic has reinforced the importance of the global food trading system in terms of delivering access to affordable food.

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