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Setting a sustainable table

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Food should not be a threat to sustainability, but a vehicle for advancing human development and protecting the environment. Communities, farmers and families are making changes that make a difference for the planet and for their own food security. Photo: UNDP Cambodia

Food has always been a central part of our lives. We grew up in our parents’ restaurant and realized early on that the way people experience food – especially how they cook food and preserve culinary traditions – has a direct impact on the fundamental areas of life.

It impacts our health, happiness – even our sense of identity and belonging. So imagine if your favourite staple foods or ingredients were no longer available. Recipes passed from generation to generation could become impossible to recreate.

This is what is happening in many places around the world, where climate change is impacting crop production and undermining food security. Increasing temperatures and changing rainfall patterns are threatening agricultural productivity, and some farming practices are only making matters worse.

In our role as Goodwill Ambassadors for the Sustainable Development Goals Fund, we’re partnering with UNDP to bring attention to the Sustainable Development Goals, especially Goal 2, Zero Hunger. Goal 2 is about fighting hunger and malnutrition and improving access for all people to a healthy diet. This goes hand-in-hand with advocating for measures to improve food industry and agricultural practices to protect the environment and create jobs.  

Developing strong and sustainable food production systems means supporting vulnerable farmers with the tools and training they need to grow better crops, sell their produce on the local market and build better lives for their families and future generations. This will require integrated support at local, national and international levels to ensure equitable access to land, technology and markets, and encourage international cooperation to invest in the infrastructure and knowledge necessary for improved agricultural productivity in the face of climate change.

undp-kh-food-assorted-2017The cookbook sheds light on how local producers and consumers are productively and positively adapting to climate change by modifying their culinary and agricultural practices. Photo: Andrea Egan

As we see it, food should not be a threat to sustainability, but a vehicle for advancing human development and protecting the environment. And despite the challenges, we know that communities, farmers and families are making changes that make a difference for the planet and for their own food security.

To highlight their efforts, UNDP has published a cookbook, “Adaptive Farms, Resilient Tables”. The cookbook features traditional recipes from six countries: Cabo Verde, Cambodia, Haiti, Mali, Niger and Sudan. All of the countries are part of the Climate Change Adaptation Facility, a partnership between Canada and UNDP that aims to strengthen climate-resilient approaches to agriculture.

The cookbook demonstrates how climate change is impacting staple ingredients and how communities are adapting to make them more sustainable. It sheds light on how local producers and consumers are productively and positively adapting to climate change by modifying their culinary and agricultural practices.

We must celebrate these efforts to strengthen resilience and enhance food security by following these examples and continuously striving to set a sustainable table.

Bon profit!

A version of this article was originally published in the Huffington Post.

Joan, Josep and Jordi Roca Blog post Roca brothers Goal 2 Zero hunger Climate change Adaptation Food security Poverty reduction and inequality Canada