CAFOD staff and volunteers have gathered outside the Foreign Office to deliver a message urging the government to fix our broken food system.
More than 10,000 people have sent messages to the Foreign Secretary calling on the government to rethink our global food system, reverse aid cuts in East Africa and deliver the UK’s COP26 commitments.
Why we need to fix the food system
Our global food system is broken. Each year, we produce more than 4 billion tonnes of food a year, more than enough to satisfy global demand of 3.7 billion tonnes.
Yet every night, some 800 million people go to bed with an empty stomach. For the first time in decades, the number of people without enough to eat is rising.
While a number of factors are contributing to this, not least the global impacts of the war in Ukraine, there are two factors that stand above the rest.
The first is our changing climate, which is laying waste to the weather conditions that for years have allowed communities to reliably grow crops. More and more, farmers are finding their sources of income and food at the mercy of even more unpredictable downpours and elongated droughts.
The second is the dominance of the food system by a small number of large scale industrial agricultural businesses. Rather than being driven by demand for food, these industries are only motivated by ever-growing profits leading them to takeover the market by dictating what farmers can and can't grow. Nowhere is this power imbalance more apparent in the world right now than in East Africa, where up to 20 million people are fighting for their lives.
Our government has the power to act. In 2017, when 16 million people in East Africa were facing hunger, the UK provided £861m to help avert widespread famine. Now with many more people going hungry, the UK has significantly reduced its contribution to only £219 million.
Action to fix the food system must be taken at COP27
But what is taking place in East Africa is just the latest example of a broken food system. Without reducing our emissions urgently and acting to rebalance power away from big agriculture business towards small farmers and communities we will only see these crises happen again and again. We called on the Foreign Secretary to step up to the plate and help protect our brothers and sisters all over the world, both now and for years to come.
The first opportunity for action is mere days away. On 6 November, leaders will gather together for COP27, this time in Egypt. We cannot afford another missed opportunity.