When the world meets in September 2021 to take a look at global food systems at the 2021 UN Food Systems Summit, it will be after a long and extensive worldwide consultative process.
In the almost two years of preparation leading up to the Summit, people across the globe have had opportunities to express their views, exchange ideas and offer solutions to the collective efforts of changing the ways we grow, consume and manage our foods towards sustainability.
The UN launched the Food Systems Champions — a diverse group of people recognized in their communities and their fields of work — to rally global communities and promote dialogues aimed at finding innovative and practical solutions. This is “to ensure the Food Systems Summit benefits from the input of the broadest and deepest set of food systems players,” according to Ms. Agnes Kalibata, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy to the Food Systems Summit, said at the inauguration of the network.
The initial group of leaders in their fields and communities will advocate for more resilient, healthy, inclusive and sustainable food systems. They will mobilize their networks to engage in dialogues and bring about actions that enable accessible and wide-ranging solutions to overcome challenges in national and regional food systems.
The Food Systems Champions include youth and indigenous peoples’ leaders, smallholder farmers and scientists from across the globe, as well as principals from nutrition, health, climate, nature, gender, policy, producer, academic, business, finance and technology communities.
The Champions will work closely with Ms. Kalibata, to kick-start activities in the build up to the Summit, including discussions on how to galvanize and build their networks to unleash ambitious new actions, innovative solutions, and plans to transform food systems in alignment with diverse local contexts.
“This exciting and diverse group of leaders will jump start the Food Systems Champions Network to ensure the Food Systems Summit benefits from the input of the broadest and deepest set of food systems players,” Ms. Kalibata said.
“This network will be the beating heart of the Summit over the coming months, and become the frontline of a new movement to transform global food systems for the better.”
Months into their work, Africa Renewal caught up with three of the Food Champions based in Africa – Mr. Divine Ntiokam of Cameroon, who is the Founder and Managing Director, Climate Smart Agriculture Youth Network (CSAYN); Ms. Lucy Muchoki of Kenya, who is the CEO, Pan-African Agribusiness and Agroindustry Consortium (PanAAC) and Mr. Mike Nkhombo Khunga of the Civil Society Organization Nutrition Alliance (CSONA) in Malawi, to hear their personal experiences as members of the network and what it is like to be part of the global conversation.