COP26: Addressing the triple burden of climate change, conflict, and malnutrition to improve prospects for peace

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Global Panel member Dr. Celso Moretti discusses the triple burden of climate change, conflict and malnutrition at the COP26 IFAD pavilion event on 8th November 2020

At a COP26 pavilion event, hosted by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Global Panel member Dr. Celso Moretti gave his insights on the need for fundamental food system transformation in fragile states and regions of conflict.

He was joined by Mr. Simon Coveney, Irish Minister of Foreign Affairs (Ireland); Mr Martin Frick Director of WFP Berlin and Deputy to the Special Envoy of the 2021 Food Systems Summit (Germany); Ms. Jyotsna Puri, Associate Vice-President, IFAD (India); Mr. Andrew Harper, Special Advisor to the High Commissioner for Refugees on Climate Action, UNHCR (Australia); Ms. Claudia Sadoff, Director, Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research, CGIAR (USA); Mr. Dan Smith, Director, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, SIPRI (UK); and the session moderator H.R.H. Princess Sarah Zeid, Special Advisor on Maternal and Child Nutrition (Jordan). 

Dr Moretti highlighted how food system transformation must be a global priority. He described how our current food systems are failing us and not providing the nutritious foods required for a healthy diet, as well as adopting practices that do not nurture our natural environment.

“At least 11 million people die every year from diet-related illnesses, with people living in regions of conflict, and /or fragile settings being disproportionately affected”

He went on to provide evidence on how conflict and food system fragility are mutually-linked, exacerbated by environmental shocks and weak governance. Giving reference to the Panel’s policy Brief Strengthening Food Systems in Fragile Contexts, Dr Moretti described the characteristics of food systems in regions of conflict as well as some options on what needs to be done.

“Ultimately, the policy response to food system failure in conflict and fragile settings needs to focus on ‘nourishing’ as well as ‘hunger’ by ensuring that interventions to increase dietary diversity are considered alongside the vital supply of staples”

At this informative and productive event where there was considerable agreement and consistent messaging amongst the panelists, breaking down silos, the fundamental need for partnerships, trust, and flexibility in planning, actions, and financing were all identified as critical to success, if we are to deliver food systems that provide safe, affordable, and nutritious foods, in a more sustainable way in fragile contexts. 

It is a testament to how the policy landscape has shifted in recent years with a better understanding of how food systems, our natural environment, and our health are linked. Having these conversations at a major climate conference reflects this shift.