Bangladesh in the UN Food Summit 2023: Towards Achieving Global Food Sustainability

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Food sustainability is an emerging aspect that contributes to the overall goal of achieving food security. The current state of the world is characterized by a significant global hunger crisis that is unparalleled in its scale and severity. The data shows a significant increase in the number of individuals experiencing or being at risk of acute food insecurity within a span of two years.

Prior to the pandemic, there were 135 million people affected across 53 countries. However, by 2023, this number rose to 345 million individuals in 79 countries. The crisis is intensifying due to a combination of factors including conflict, climate shocks, and the impact of COVID-19. The ongoing war in Ukraine is contributing to the rising costs of essential commodities such as food, fuel, and fertilisers. A significant number of individuals are facing immense challenges in meeting their basic food needs, leading them towards a state of severe hunger amidst an overwhelming crisis.

In this alarming situation, the United Nations has organised a food summit, which is being convened by the United Nations Secretariat and hosted by Italy. The summit is being held in collaboration with the Rome-based UN Agencies, including FAO, IFAD, and WFP. The United Nations Food System Summit is a recurring international conference that convenes scientists, businessmen, and politicians to discuss and negotiate the implementation of sustainable food systems. The summit serves as a platform to discuss and debate various issues related to food security, involving key stakeholders such as farmers, indigenous groups, environmentalists, and others, with the aim of raising awareness about these concerns.

Bangladesh’s participation in the event is noteworthy due to its large population and the opportunity it provides to showcase the country’s agricultural production. According to recent rankings, Bangladesh has achieved a notable position among the top ten countries in terms of agricultural production. This includes the cultivation of 22 different agricultural products, such as rice, lentils, potatoes, onions, tea, and various fruits.

Bangladesh, despite its relatively small size as the 94th largest country in terms of area, has achieved significant global recognition by securing the 14th position in the production of primary crop commodities. China, India, and the United States have emerged as the leading countries in the list. The agricultural production in Bangladesh has been successful. Based on data from the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the agricultural produce volume in Bangladesh has reached 93.3 million tonnes, with a corresponding value of USD 36.11 billion.

This can be seen as a model for other countries to emulate. Bangladesh participated in the three-day UN Food Systems Summit+2 Stocktaking Moment (UNFSS+2) held at the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) headquarters of the United Nations. The prime minister of Bangladesh has drawn attention to the problem of food shortages and emphasised the notable increase in agricultural production. The prime minister has presented a set of key points and suggestions aimed at addressing the global hunger crisis. The points mentioned above have provided a strong illustration of Bangladesh’s strategy in attaining global food self-sufficiency. Furthermore, their ability to effectively convey the viewpoint of developing nations on a global platform has been noteworthy.

Sheikh Hasina’s Five Point Plan for Food Sustainability: A Beacon of Hope

Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina outlined five key points for improving the future of the world. In terms of spatial considerations, particularly in the context of the developing world. These five points emphasise the demands of the developing world, representing the voice of the global south. Firstly, the user highlights the significance of financial incentives and policy support in improving food management. The global food crisis is primarily attributed to issues related to policy making and its implications. Many communities are falling behind in achieving food sufficiency due to a lack of incentives. Additionally, these communities are not receiving sufficient food support.

Secondly, the speaker highlights the significance of trade barriers due to their impact on the entry of essential food items into certain countries. This has resulted in a challenging situation for many nations. The ongoing Ukraine war has led to the global observation of negative impacts on food trade barriers. The lack of availability of essential foods in numerous countries is causing significant challenges. The user emphasises the importance of the Black Sea grain deal and emphasises that the deal should continue because the developing world is dependent on it.

Thirdly, she emphasises the unique idea of establishing a regional and global food bank, which would provide countries with emergency support whenever they require it. In contrast, the establishment of food banks could foster a sense of global brotherhood and unity among nations. By sharing food resources, countries can contribute to the realisation of a more interconnected and harmonious world, in alignment with the goals of the United Nations.

Moreover, she emphasised the significance of nanotechnology in the field of agriculture, highlighting its potential to greatly impact production. The utilisation of bioinformatics has the potential to enhance global collaboration among farmers. Additionally, the utilisation of artificial intelligence and technologies based on the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) can significantly streamline agricultural production methods and further enhance productivity. The world is currently experiencing significant changes in communication and technological advancements. It is evident that the developing world will also adopt these methods. Hence, the proposition to incorporate the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) into the global food system is a pertinent suggestion.

Lastly, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina emphasises the significance of social movements and the involvement of the younger generation in food production and supply. The youth play a crucial role in shaping the future of the world and represents the pinnacle of progress and advancements. In the social awareness programme, the inclusion of youth is a crucial aspect. This initiative aims to bring together young people from around the world in a unified platform. The ultimate goal is to enhance global cooperation and address various challenges related to food production and supply. By involving the youth, this programme has the potential to facilitate advancements in these areas, making them more efficient and accessible in the future.

Therefore, it can be said that this country truly exemplifies the collective endeavour on a global scale to address and overcome the pressing issue of the food crisis. The proposal from Bangladesh’s Prime Minister is like a beacon of hope, as it emerges from a country that has triumphantly navigated the treacherous waters of the food crisis.

Why should we embrace the imperative of revolutionizing food production?

There is no greater foe that plagues humanity than the relentless hunger, for it is this insatiable craving that fuels all the malevolent deeds throughout history, be it theft, warfare, or any other nefarious act. We find ourselves at a crucial juncture, filled with anticipation and uncertainty. It is of utmost importance for us to tackle the urgent matter of meeting people’s immediate food needs, all the while giving top priority to the implementation of programmes that promote long-term resilience. Opting for the alternative would undoubtedly lead to a staggering magnitude of widespread hunger.

Moreover, the preposition from Sheikh Hasina, in all its glory, truly reflects the unique and insightful perspective of the developing world. The developing world, filled with immense potential and untapped resources, finds itself bearing the brunt of the global food crisis. Unfortunately, their voices are often drowned out, and their rights are not given the attention they deserve. Furthermore, it is worth mentioning that the proposition put forth by the prime minister of Bangladesh is not only infused with cutting-edge technology but also encompasses the profound ideals of brotherhood and global unity.

Moreover, it is worth mentioning that Bangladesh has shown great dedication and put forward valuable recommendations, which clearly highlight the country’s exceptional ability and dependability in the field of food production and distribution. Bangladesh, without a doubt, is widely recognised as one of the most densely populated countries on our planet, boasting an impressively high average population density per square mile. The country has effectively addressed the food crisis and achieved food sufficiency, no doubt about it.

It is undeniably true that our world is the one and only place we call home, and it’s imperative that we don’t abandon it with the distressing plight of human hunger and suffering. Bangladesh’s position in the world food production, as evidenced by its remarkable achievements, demonstrates the transformative power of adopting the right approach from the right side to address the issue of hunger. Hence, Bangladesh’s unwavering commitment to global food security and sustainability has emerged as a significant contribution in addressing the food crisis. Therefore, it is imperative that world actors diligently adhere to the suggestions of others and work towards transforming the Earth into a magnificent place that caters to the needs of all, solely for the betterment of humanity.

– S. M. Saifee Islam is a Research Associate at the KRF Center for Bangladesh and Global Affairs (CBGA).

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