How the G7 can safeguard our future

World leaders must act. We are drowning in promises.

History has taught us that extraordinary progress and innovation can emerge from human tragedy and disaster, from post-War social welfare reform and national health services to peace-keeping coalitions.

In the wake of the interconnected hunger, health and climate crises facing humanity, the G7 must find the political leadership, courage and finance to protect the next generation from other man-made threats and safeguard the survival of people and planet.

 

There is no vaccine against hunger, poverty, climate change or biodiversity loss. But there is a cure and it must be rolled out from the top down: it is called building resilience.

History has taught us that extraordinary progress and innovation can emerge from human tragedy and disaster, from post-War social welfare reform and national health services to peace-keeping coalitions.

In the wake of the interconnected hunger, health and climate crises facing humanity, the G7 must find the political leadership, courage and finance to protect the next generation from other man-made threats and safeguard the survival of people and planet.

Chance

The gathering of leaders of the world’s largest economies represents the first opportunity this year to take decisive action that corrects the course of humanity’s relationship with nature ahead of two critical global conferences this year, the UN Food Systems Summit and the COP26 climate talks.

In the first instance, it is a chance to recognize the importance of resilient food systems to both human and planetary health.

In high-income countries, reducing consumption, decoupling the economy from its outsized environmental footprint and investing in climate and nature is essential to build the foundations for a truly sustainable recovery, longer-term resilience and greater global equity.

Food systems are responsible for about a third of global greenhouse gas emissions. But adopting nature-positive practices and solutions could provide up to a third of the solution by absorbing carbon, which starts with healthy soils achieved through agroecology, regenerative agriculture and agroforestry.

Through the emergence of more sustainable agri-food systems, leading economies will be better placed to support more vulnerable countries and feed more people, support biodiversity, restore the Earth and adapt to climate change. This is especially critical for low-income and conflict-prone regions, such as the Sahel, which is affected by chronic droughts. 

Universal

Secondly, the G7 must also set the global agenda by recognizing access to food as a universal human right.

Protecting the right to food requires measures that support and protect small-scale farmers, food workers, fishers, indigenous communities and their families. Managing more than 80 per cent of the world’s estimated 500 million small farms, they produce up to 80 per cent of the food consumed in most of the developing world, yet are often counted among those going without enough to eat.

History has taught us that extraordinary progress and innovation can emerge from human tragedy and disaster, from post-War social welfare reform and national health services to peace-keeping coalitions.

In the wake of the interconnected hunger, health and climate crises facing humanity, the G7 must find the political leadership, courage and finance to protect the next generation from other man-made threats and safeguard the survival of people and planet.

 

Smallholder and grassroots farmers are also the custodians of healthy ecosystems and biodiversity, yet often find themselves on the frontline of climate change. Protecting their right to food also means protecting their right to healthy environments, land and natural resources.

Finally, the G7 can protect the next generation by adopting climate-resilient strategies that prevent, absorb and anticipate future risks.

Nobody is immune to the shocks created by global systemic and institutional failures, as the pandemic has demonstrated, and they can only be repaired with a wholesale transformation of food systems that incorporates climate adaptation and mitigation.]

Change

So, as the G7 leaders meet, they represent the hopes of a future generation and a future world, with a pivotal opportunity for collective effort to build resilience, protect and fortify the planet and step up ambition.

It is possible to change our destructive course, but only if we commit to food access for all with regenerative and inclusive approaches, protect at least 30 per cent of land and sea by 2030, reach carbon neutrality by 2050 or earlier, and have wide-scale public engagement in these efforts.

These are the stepping stones that should guide our path through the year, following an arc of ambition, and connecting the dots between the UN Food Systems Summit, the biodiversity talks, and the climate COP.

The game-changer is to put climate, nature and social equity at the heart of transformation, from which more resilient societies and sustainable economic benefits will flow.

Transformative change is within reach. And our descendants deserve a fruitful future. We challenge G7 to take the lead and build long-term resilience to allow people and planet to thrive.

These Authors- Sandrine Dixson-Decléve is President of the Club of Rome. Prof Saleemul Huq is Director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development,

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