During the 8th World Sustainability Forum (WSF) Louise O. Fresco participated in a panel on 'Preparing for the 2021 UN Food Systems Summit'. This panel was part of an entire day session on Food Security and Agriculture organised by University of Pretoria. The panel discussion was with Prof Patric Caron (France) and moderated by Professor Lindiwe Majele Sibanda, Director for ARUA Centre of Excellence in Food Security at the University of Pretoria.
As co-chair of the Scientific Group of the Food Systems Summit, professor Fresco pointed out the uniqueness of a Scientific Group being established within the UN system. Its establishment was an important step as it highlights the importance of scientific evidence being the basis for political decision making. Louise stressed the importance of including science and mobilizing evidence on “what works” from many disciplines and from all over the world. This evidence should be included in all of the Food System dialogues that will be organized in the time leading up to the summit.
Science and universities
Fresco pointed out the major role of science and universities in general for the Food Systems;
- Most importantly the role of universities in capacity building. Capacity building is not confined to their own students, but also reaches to train the trainers.
- Secondly, science should engage in long term relationships to fully understand the details of culture as wells the natural systems.
- Thirdly, integration of science disciplines into a system approach shows that for science, most of the value added is not in growing crops, but in helping farmers to engage in value chains to increase value of their produce and secondly also improve the quality of food for the consumers.
Science has a role in making evidence available and to further our fundamental understanding and develop solutions of, for instance genetics, natural processes and food technology. In solving food system challenges, also consumers have a role to play. Innovations in food supply are partly determined by consumers. They can put pressure on policy makers to implement the readily available quick wins.
Louise O. Fresco closed with stressing the potential for Africa to rapidly develop, based on its young, ambitious people combined with the demographical position of the continent.