UN committee

Rattan Lal was the only Indian American scientist named to the UN Scientific Group, set up by UN Secretary-General António Guterres. (worldfoodprize.org photo)

The United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, in collaboration with the United Nations Rome, Italy-based agencies, June 29 announced it will convene the Food Systems Summit in 2021, and as such, established a committee, including members Rattan Lal and Uma Lele, to provide feedback on the summit’s overall development and implementation.

Lal is a professor of soil science at Ohio State University. The Indian American researcher recently won the 2020 World Food Prize.

Lele, who received her Ph.D. in agricultural economics from Cornell University, was elected president-elect of the International Association of Agricultural Economists in July 2018.

The UN said convening the summit is a critical contribution to the Decade of Action to deliver the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals.

The summit will raise global awareness to understand the food systems challenges that must be solved, build a global conversation on the ways to produce, process and consume food, and galvanize global actions and commitments to change food systems to provide safe, nutritious food for all within our planetary boundaries, the UN said.

As noted by Guterres in a recent Policy Brief on the Impact of COVID-19 on food security and nutrition, investment both during and after the COVID-19 crisis can accelerate movement towards food systems that are more inclusive and resilient to future pandemics and that offer better protections for all, the UN news release said.

To facilitate this process and its success, Guterres is forming a number of support structures.

An independent Scientific Group will bring to bear the foremost scientific evidence and help expand the base of shared knowledge about experiences, approaches and tools for driving sustainable food systems; a system-wide United Nations Task Force will ensure that the Summit can build on the knowledge and unique capabilities of the entire United Nations system to deliver on this agenda beyond the Summit; and an open Champions Network will serve to mobilize a large and diverse group of stakeholders from the full range of constituencies that make up the food system, and drawn from all regions of the world, to champion food systems transformation by the time of the Summit moment and continue beyond, the release said.

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