How do you see the future of food systems transformation? Why are natural pathways in coordination even more important now?
Johan: They have been important all the time. But particularly now after the UN Food Systems Summit of last year, which was very much focused on food systems, I think there has been a global recognition, and in that way, I think the Food System Summit was very important. It was the first time that at that level, there has been a global recognition that a food systems approach or even a broader food, land, and water systems approach, is crucial to make change. This change has to come about through changes at a number of levels, institutional and policy changes. Some of it is global, but ultimately, a lot has to be done at the national level and that is why these national pathways are so crucial. If things do not change at the national or local level, all the global changes by themselves will not be sufficient.
How does the current global crisis change the debate on food security? What are the most relevant messages you would like to convey to the rural development community, to build resilience in these times of crisis?
Johan: The current global crisis is an additional negative factor adding to the problems we already had. Before COVID-19, we already had a worsening food and malnutrition situation. COVID-19 has made this worse. It reinforced the problems and now with the crisis following the Ukraine war, we see that the prices of oil and fertiliser and of food were already high and now they're spiking, so that makes the issue more complicated.
The other thing is the sequence of crises and shocks means we have to start thinking in terms of that the normal factor is instability. Large price and market fluctuations have become the rule rather than the exception, and so we need to make sure that all the things we do are taking resilience at the heart of the problem and as a core part of the solution that we put forward.
A lot of the actions recommended by the Global Donor Platform, which are part of the White Paper they just came out with, are relevant today. However, it is important to adjust the policies for changing situations. What also is clear is that during these crisis situations it may be difficult for countries to stay with their sustainability commitments, both in the Global South and North. That may reinforce the need for coordination, because through coordination and cooperation, you may prevent local governments from moving into directions which are not sustainable in the long run.