Making positive progress towards a sustainable future
This month, the United Nations will be hosting the Food Systems Summit, which aims to “awaken the world” to the need to work collectively in how we produce, consume and think about food. The Summit is also a key part of the Decade of Action towards the Sustainable Development Goals 2030.
The summit is focused on “the constellation of activities” involved in the production, processing, transport and consumption of food, which the UN points out has touched every aspect of human existence.
In this month’s newsletter, we highlight the vital role being played by the animal health industry in making food production more sustainable and, in doing so, moving the world closer to achieving the UN’s important Sustainable Development Goals.
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Last week, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation published their annual report titled "The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World". The report measures how hunger and nutrition changes each year.

Considering the devastating impacts the pandemic had in 2020, there was an expectation that hunger would rise. However, the final numbers were shocking:
  • As many as 811 million people went hungry last year. This is an increase of as much as 161 million from 2019.
  • More than 2.3 billion people (or 30% of the global population) lacked year-round access to adequate food.
  • Over 149 million children under-five are estimated to have been stunted and more than 45 million were too thin. Nearly a third of women of reproductive age suffer from anaemia.
Coupled with the United Nations warning that the world's efforts to achieve the SDGs are not only 'insufficient' but progress is reversing, the situation is distressing. It will take an ‘all-of-society’ effort to course correct, which means ‘business as usual’ is not an option.

It's essential that the upcoming Food Systems Summit focuses on how we can reverse these trends and fundamentally improve global nutrition.
Taking on the challenges raised by the SOFI report and the United Nations Food Systems summit will require improving all forms of agriculture (Crop and livestock; organic and conventional; large-scale and smallholder; etc).

Many livestock systems worldwide are already adapting practices to produce more efficiently and with a lower environmental footprint, even as a changing climate makes farming more challenging. These are positive and productive steps.

We can build on these by ensuring livestock farmers everywhere have access to vaccines, diagnostics, veterinary expertise, and all other tools required to improve the health of their animals. The benefits will be tangible and significant for sustainable food systems:
  • Safe Food: Animal disease increases food prices. One FAO study found egg prices rose 82% and remained high for 3 years after an Avian Influenza outbreak in one country, while African Swine Fever increased global commodity prices 20% in 2019.
  • Resilient Livelihoods: Livestock contribute to the livelihoods of 1.7 billion poor people; 70% of whom are women. Protecting the health of these animals is essential to their economic future.
Delivering these benefits means removing the various hurdles that prevent new innovations, such as game-changing digital technologies, from reaching farm-level and increasing support for preventative care.

To learn more about animal health and sustainable food systems, read our FSS briefing document here.  
HealthforAnimals has signed on to a statement led by the global livestock sector outlining how events like the United Nations Food Systems Summit can deliver positive, productive proposals that will re-ignite efforts to achieve the SDGs. Read the full statement on Medium.
“The Food Systems Summit must aim to transform global food production and consumption. Food systems are one of the main reasons we are failing to stay within our planet’s ecological boundaries.”

UN Secretary-General, António Guterres
Farming and food account for about a third of global greenhouse gas production at present. The world’s food systems produced about 16bn tonnes a year of CO2 from 2012 to 2017.
The health of livestock can have a direct impact on carbon emissions. The livestock sector will therefore continue to play a pivotal role in supporting sustainable development across the animal health sector.
Take a look at our infographic below to find out more.
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