IFOAM – Organics International spoke to Dr Susan Gardner, the Director of the Ecosystems Division at UNEP, who shed light on the transformative potential of sustainable agricultural practices.

sustainable food systems
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Why should we be mindful of food systems and how we grow, process and consume our food, in relation to biodiversity? Food systems and nature are intrinsically interlinked: Nature provides us with essential – and very often free ecological services, that are essential to food production: from pollination to pest control, water to soil fertility. However, our current food system’s unsustainable production methods are a major contributor to our triple planetary crisis – the crisis of pollution, biodiversity loss and climate change. The way we produce food has a significant impact on the environment, and yet our food systems rely on a healthy environment to function. Around 75% of the world’s food crops depend on natural pollination by insects, birds, and other animals. So, the production of food necessitates healthy, functioning ecosystems and vice-versa.

What is the role of gender equity in fostering a healthy environment and sustainable food systems? Gender equality and environmental sustainability are interconnected, with women playing a crucial role as agents of transformational change and stewards of nature, especially in rural contexts. Women comprise approximately 40% of agricultural labour and about 47% of the global fishing workforce, highlighting their central role in food production. They are also key actors in building community resilience as a first line of defence against the impacts of climate change on rural livelihoods and food security. Unfortunately, women often have limited decision-making power and control over the resources they manage. Globally, less than 15% of all landholders are women, resulting in an unstable situation where women play a significant role in crop production but have minimal empowerment as landholders. Additionally, women continue to be underrepresented in environmental leadership at the national level. This needs to change. Gender equity is essential for achieving sustainable food systems and environmental transformation.

Overall, food unites us around a common table. By working together to address the drivers of risk – we can prevent further environmental and humanitarian crises in the future while creating new pathways for a nature-positive and equitable food system for all. More inspiring content is available at www.organicwithoutboundaries.bio.

Author: Joanita Akello, IFOAM Organics International Communications Coordinator

Published in the BIOFACH & VIVANESS 2024 Bio Eco Actual Special Edition.

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