RFSD 2024: Peer learning table on SDG 2

Oana Manițiu, Romanian Children’s Board

14 Mar 2024, Geneva

Dear delegates, fellow participants,

My name is Oana Manițiu, representative of the Romanian Children’s Board, supported by UNICEF and it is a great honour today to speak on behalf of the Regional Civil Society Engagement Mechanism for the UNECE region (ECE-RCEM).

During my activity in advocating for Children’s Rights, I acknowledged the importance of the second Sustainable Development Goal, since it addresses the triple burden of malnutrition: undernutrition, hidden hunger and overweight, under the spectrum of the four dimensions of food security: availability, access, utilisation and stability. Global hunger still scores far above pre-COVID-19-pandemic levels. About 735 million people faced hunger in 2022 alone, while in 20 countries in the region, the share of adults experiencing moderate or severe food insecurity. Moreover, overweight and food insecurity severely affect our region, interfering with people’s physical health, daily activities, and state of mind. This situation has to change, and by coordinating our efforts, we are capable of ensuring the future we want, for every individual.

The second Sustainable Development Goals is crucial, considering its interconnectivity with the whole spectrum of the SDGs. The highest number of employees can be found in the food system, while investments in this sector are nearly three times more effective in eradicating poverty than in any other economic field. About 70% of deforestation, water scarcity and biodiversity loss and 30% of greenhouse gas emissions are rooted in the food value chain, and, consequently, I believe that we can collectively affirm that without SDG 2, no progress can be achieved.

Following this perspective, we, as a Civil Society, emphasise the importance of acting upon the following recommendations:

  • recognize and, most importantly, implement access to food and nutrition as a human right
  • Address the root causes of hunger and malnutrition and adopt policies that support people to lift up from the cycle of starvation and malnutrition, aggravated by the armed conflicts in the regions.
  • Shift from a narrative of food security to one of food justice, through research and data-driven approaches.
  • Promote and distribute sustainable and climate-smart and climate-resilient agriculture practices worldwide, especially through education, capacity building, and green investments to support farmers dealing with the climate changes
  • decrease the environmental footprint of food production, in order to ensure that food production does not compromise the integrity of our planet, which would further worsen the world hunger crisis.
  • Shorten food supply chains in order to remove unnecessary costs added to the price of food. Food must be affordable and we consider that the profits from this field should be directly given to the smallholder farmers.
  • We must also address the enormous impacts of Ultra processed foods (UPFs) that are wreaking havoc on human health, biodiversity and ecosystems. This means enhancing regulation in the middle chain of the food system to ensure transparency and accountability. This will facilitate fair distribution of benefits and help mitigate power imbalances.
  • Results cannot be achieved without cooperation. From this perspective, we encourage the delegates to promote a participatory approach in all policy cycles. This will ensure a flawless integration of direct stakeholder participation with the solutions and landmark decisions being formulated by the United Nations.
  • We recommend giving the space and creating an enabling environment for the smallholder farmers, agricultural workers, rural women and youth to meaningfully engage in the policy dialogue. Not only inform, but learn the most underrepresented groups across food systems how to claim for their rights.
  • Last, but not least, we insist on adopting an intersectionality approach to ensure that the achievement of one sector’s objectives do not compromise the aspirations of other sectors.

In order to effectively combat hunger, achieve widespread food security, enhance nutritional standards, and foster sustainable agricultural practices, it is imperative that we wholeheartedly commit to collective action and collaboration. Only through unified efforts can we truly address these interconnected challenges and build a future where everyone has access to nutritious food and thriving agricultural systems.