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Symposium Discusses Transforming the Global Food System for Sustainability

The online event was held as part of the UN Weeks at Sophia University in Tokyo, Japan.

On 23 October 2023, UNU-IAS contributed to an online symposium as part of the UN Weeks at Sophia University event in Tokyo, Japan. The symposium brought together experts from the public and private sectors to discuss actions to transform global food systems for the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

In a keynote speech, Eric Ponthieu (Strategy Director at Fair Trade Advocacy Office; Adjunct Professor at Bologna and Firenze Universities; Former Head of Unit at the European Economic and Social Committee of the EU) introduced the Farm to Fork Strategy, which aims to decarbonize the EU food system. He pointed out that it is essential to revalue food and engage civil society to ensure benefits for all in the food value chain, while considering factors and policies beyond the EU, and strengthening collaboration across regions.

Akio Takemoto (Head of Programme and Administration, UNU-IAS) discussed the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions generated by food systems. He noted that while the GHG emissions at each stage of the food supply chain differed across countries, post-production GHG emissions were on the rise globally. The majority of the food system GHG emissions in Japan occur at the post-production stage, from transportation to disposal. In countries that export food products to Japan, such as Brazil, EU members, and the United States, land use and agriculture account for a large share of the GHG emissions. Dr Takemoto stressed the need to promote international cooperation to reduce emissions both in Japan and in countries where the food originates. He emphasized the importance of adopting a just transition approach, given that the food system has been impacted by global crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and climate change.

A panel discussion introduced initiatives by the private sector to advance the transition to a sustainable food system. Panelists discussed marketing strategies that influence consumer choices towards environment-friendly products, awareness raising on the carbon footprint of imported food, and the benefits of alternative protein.

In closing remarks, Toshio Arima (Chairman of the Board, Global Compact Network Japan) highlighted the need for partnerships and action throughout the entire food supply chain, and called for greater awareness of the interlinkages between the global food system, climate change, and the SDGs.

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