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I recently attended an event on safe, nutritious and sufficient food, exploring the question – How can the world feed itself by 2030? This discussion brought together panellists from different sectors including academia, the private sector, civil society organisations and farmers. The range of arguments were as diverse as the panel itself, but one in particular resonated with me: The consumption and waste production in the first world as one of the main causes of the food crisis and environmental degradation.
I am aware as someone living in the UK that our levels of consumption here are having a huge impact. We use more resources and energy than necessary and this causes disruption in many of the world’s natural cycles. 97% of the world’s climate scientists believe that man-made climate change is occurring and that what we consume in regions like the UK, and the way we consume energy, has real consequences for some of the poorest communities in the world. We are connected to those farmers in Africa through our own consumption patterns.
It is a great achievement for a group of farmers in Uganda to sell their produce at a good price and at a larger scale, or for a cooperative of indigenous groups in Burundi to start their own seed bank. Together we know that change is possible and we celebrate such advances. However, solutions tackling food insecurity and poverty must be complementary in both developed and developing countries. The UK imports more food than it produces. A significant proportion of this food, coming from developing countries, goes to waste. Why are we consuming more than we really need? The food cycle, from the farmer to the table, is long and complex. Most of this cycle takes place in markets, away from the land where food is produced. We are able to make choices that influence this cycle.
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Valeria Llano-Arias is the Advocacy Coordinator at All We Can. She has been researching and working on international development and environmental issues for over ten years. She is passionate about cycling and enjoys learning more about communication for development and social change.