Collaboration fundamental for sustainable, resilient food systems

It requires the entire industry and a multitude of different value chains to institute sustainability


FOR a region to thrive, it needs to ensure everyone has access to sufficient nutrition, food producers have sustainable livelihoods including through trade, and its environment is protected and safeguarded for future generations.

Food Industry Asia ED Matt Kovac said the global pandemic has further emphasised the importance of sustainable food systems, bringing the importance of safety, nutrition, animal welfare, climate change and environmental protection to the fore.

“Therefore, businesses and governments across the region can take a united approach to ensuring a more sustainable Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) food system to deliver a long-lasting recovery for future generations,” he said during the sustainable and resilient APEC food system discussion in the virtual New Zealand APEC 2021 event yesterday.

Kovac noted that the economies that approach collaboration will inevitably be more successful than those who think of working with the private sector as an afterthought.

He stressed that it is essential for businesses and governments across the APEC region to work together on feeding a sustainable food system to the population within the planetary boundaries.

This includes how the industries across the APEC region produce, store, deliver and sell their products which have a future impact on the environment and people.

“From the use of natural resources and carbon emissions through transporting products, it requires the entire industry and a multitude of different value chains to institute sustainability into their processes, their policies and behaviours because sustainability is all about preserving and prolonging.

“Businesses should take production methods that are non-polluting and conserve non-renewable energy and natural resources.

“They also must be economically efficient and safe for workers, communities and consumers,” he added.

Additionally, Kovac said food production is one of the key areas that requires immediate action, alongside issues of food consumption, nutrition and food security.

He noted that it is estimated that by 2050, the world’s population will be more than nine billion and as of 2020, the world has around 7.9 billion population.

“This means that we need more food to be produced in about 30 years using less of everything, with an added challenge of maintaining sustainability which is also nutritionally dense at the same time allows people to have a balanced diet.

“The global food production method has to change and minimise the impact to the environment to support the world’s capacity to produce food for the future generations,” he said.

Kovac also emphasised that it is important to understand that food production is no different than any other activities which are harmful to the environment, as it does contribute to climate change, water scarcity, soil degradation and the destruction of wild diversity.

Therefore, he said it is high time for businesses and governments to work together on bringing the need to produce high-quality, safe and nutritious food for the APEC region with a low carbon footprint and sustainable supply chains.

According to the APEC Business Advisory Council, collective coherent and timely solutions are the only way for the APEC economies to thrive while addressing complex global challenges.

It noted that while the pandemic is an urgent problem, the world also needs to navigate climate change, faltering economic growth and digital disruption.

“Standing alone and turning inwards is not the right strategy in a deeply interconnected world and therefore, shared problems will need shared solutions,” it said.