WHO chief stresses need of profound change in food systems

‘Global hunger crisis affects more than 800 million people,’ says Tedros Ghebreyesus in video message as part of TRT World Forum 2022.

WHO chief stresses need of profound change in food systems

WHO chief underlined the need for a profound change in food systems on Friday.

Leading experts discussed the current challenges facing global food security and their implications for future crises in a session titled "Feeding the World: Ensuring Global Food Security in Times of Crisis" as part of the TRT World Forum 2022.

'Over the long term, we need a profound change in food systems. We need to end unsustainable production and consumption practices that lead to environmental degradation and increase the likelihood of unsafe and unhealthy food, antimicrobial resistance and Zoonotic diseases,' Tedros Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, said in a video message at the forum.

"The global hunger crisis affects more than 800 million people, driven by conflicts and economic shocks, compounded by climate change," said Ghebreyesus, pointing out that infants, small children and pregnant and breastfeeding women are hit the hardest.

He also emphasized the priorities for ending hunger and building "a healthier, safer, fairer future for all people."

Alongside Ghebreyesus, those attending the session were Chris Hegadorn, Former Secretary of the Committee on World Food Security, Mukesh Kapila, Professor of Global Health and Humanitarian Affairs, University of Manchester (MUK), and Alvaro Rodriguez, UN Resident Coordinator in Türkiye.

Food security is question of national security

For his part, Chris Hegadorn said according to UN reports, 823 million people are food insecure, and 45 countries are in urgent need of food assistance, including 33 in Africa.

Food security is a question of national security and governments need to take it more seriously, Hegadorn stressed.

Saying that the food system has to be given more attention, he added: "This is not just relying on leaders and governments. We all have a role and a responsibility to make the right choices around food, what we consume, what we buy, and what we demand of our leaders."

Meanwhile, Rodriguez echoed Hegadorn remarks, saying, "food is a security and therefore every government, every society will have to look at one food as a strategic tool."

"When you look at climate change, COVID etc., in a holistic way, you cannot just mention food problems without looking at education. This is surely difficult for policymakers," Rodriguez added.

Further, Kapila said, "Without food, you cannot say goodbye to other crises… Every government has to have a national food plan."

"Focusing on quantity of food is only one partition of the story, quality of food is an equally important aspect as well," Kapila added.

The TRT World Forum 2022, a two-day annual event, started in Istanbul on Friday.

The gathering, which is held under the theme of Mapping the Future: Uncertainties, Realities and Opportunities this year, brings together academics, journalists, intellectuals, politicians, and members of civil society from around the globe.

Nearly 100 speakers and over 1,000 participants from nearly 40 countries are attending the forum, according to Mehmet Zahid Sobaci, the director general of TRT, Türkiye's public broadcaster.

The forum will feature sessions on various subjects, such as the Ukraine-Russian war, global migration, and the energy crisis, as well as disinformation.

The event is being held in person this year after it was held virtually the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.