United Nations (UN) Resident Coordinator, Dr. Garry Conille, has commended the Government of Jamaica on measures being put in place to build resilience and ensure the sustainability of Jamaica’s food systems and has pledged his organisation’s continued support in this regard.
He was speaking at a recent consultation workshop, which examined Jamaica’s food systems, including issues inhibiting sustainability and growth, as well as highlighting solutions.
The event, which brought together representatives of Government, international and non-governmental organisations, the private sector, and academia, was held ahead of a September 23 Food Systems Summit, which will be staged during the UN General Assembly in New York.
It was organised by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the European Union (EU) and the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD), in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ).
Food systems encompass the entire range of activities involved in the production, aggregation, processing, distribution, consumption, and disposal of food products that originate from agriculture, forestry, or fisheries.
A sustainable food system is one that delivers food security and nutrition for all in such a way that the economic, social, and environmental bases to generate food security and nutrition for future generations are not compromised.
Noting that food systems are influenced by governance and policies, Dr. Conillee said that strategic actions are needed to build resilient systems “that are mindful of Jamaica’s proud cultural heritage and are able to contribute to economic renewal and innovation”.
He said that activities, such as the staging of the consultation workshop, represent an important opportunity to not only identify the challenges but to begin to achieve consensus.
“Let me therefore really commend the Government of Jamaica and the Minister [of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Floyd Green] for their commitment and leadership on this front. We really hope to support the efforts that are going to be happening here in Jamaica, but also making sure that we’re reflecting some of the actions in Jamaica globally,” he said.
“Minister Green, partners and colleagues [can] be assured that the UN system, not just in Jamaica, but regionally and globally, are all committed to be Jamaica’s steady partner on this transformative journey of its food system,” he added.
Meanwhile, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Representative for Jamaica, the Bahamas and Belize, Dr. Crispim Moreira, said that the consultation is critical in identifying the key channels and opportunities for sustainable transformation of food systems in Jamaica and other countries across the globe.
“It is also a first step in the process of policy dialogue and prioritisation around the future work on policies, investment and the increasing sustainability of Jamaica’s food systems,” he pointed out.
Dr. Moreira said there is a global concern that current food systems are not sustainable and lack resilience.
“The increasing effect of climate change damage to the ecosystem, and the pandemic, are testing the resilience of food systems. Our current food systems are also not meeting the goals of ensuring access to healthy diets and food security for all,” he pointed out.
“We meet …because of the global urgency to transform our food systems and ensure that they can meet the challenge of the 21st century. This global urgency applies also to the Caribbean region and Jamaica,” he added.
The consultation workshop was held as part of a large-scale assessment and consultation on food systems in more than 50 countries, as a first step towards transforming them.
Since 2020, the EU, FAO and CIRAD have forged partnerships with the governments and stakeholders of the targeted countries to undertake the assessment.
The findings will be summarised in a Food Systems Assessment Technical Report and Policy Brief that could feed into future food systems policies, dialogues and investments in Jamaica.