Caribbean cities, local policies key to overcome hunger: UN agency

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A report by Nelson A. King for Caribbean Life News

Highlighting the potential of cities to address malnutrition, the head of the United Nations food security agency has called for innovative partnerships between urban centers and wide range of stakeholders to overcome the challenge of food waste and to ensure a healthy and nutritious diet for all.

José Graziano da Silva, the director general of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), said on Friday that multiple forms of malnutrition – overweight, obesity or micronutrient deficiencies – threaten the health of millions of people around the world, including those in the Caribbean.

“Fortunately, cities are taking action and rising up to the challenge,” da Silva told a global meeting of mayors and representatives from more than 150 cities in Milan, Italy, adding that “high levels of creativity can be achieved if partnerships are forged with local actors, civil society, private sector and academic and producer organizati­ons.”

Citing his own experience with the Zero Hunger Program in Brazil, which lifted 40 million people from poverty and hunger, the FAO director-general stressed that a key component in the success was the participation of cities, where local governments launched popular restaurants that served balanced and nutritious food at low prices, as well as prioritizing the purchase of locally-produced food.

In his address to the third mayor’s meeting of the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact – a commitment to combat hunger and food waste and improve nutrition — da Silva also spoke of the UN agency’s support to implementing the Pact.

In particular, he highlighted FAO’s work to promote dialogue between parliamentarians, mutual learning programs among farmers, as well as South-South and Triangular Cooperation, as important means to accelerate the pace of change and the transformation of food systems.

“FAO supports local governments in their food systems assessments, in the development of urban food strategies and plans, and in the definition of their investment priorities to strengthen linkages with rural areas,” said the FAO director-general.

He underscored the need for aligning efforts with the New Urban Agenda, adopted last October, by world leaders as the new global standard for sustainable urban development.

“The New Agenda makes a concrete call for better urban and territorial planning with a view to ending hunger and malnutriti­on,” said Graziano da Silva, adding that it also urges for greater coordination between food and energy policies, and those regarding water, health, transport and waste.

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