Pacific Food Systems

Noumea

The future of food and food systems in the Pacific will play a key role in supporting the region, the planet’s recovery and revival from COVID-19, and the long-term health, resilience and prosperity of the Pacific people.

The first United Nations Food Summit, held on 23 September 2021 is an opportunity for the Pacific countries to not only be heard, but to also share the region’s contribution to the global food system, including game-changing solutions grounded in the culture, knowledge and innovations that the region brings to this global summit.

The ocean is at the centre of the Pacific food system, but communities are now on the frontlines of climate change impacts which are compounding existing challenges including a high dependance on food imports and a crisis of non-communicable diseases.

Pacific countries have been addressing these challenges through a series of national and regional dialogues in the lead up to the Summit. The game changing solutions proposed provide a blueprint and critical forward progress to ensure all in the region are well fed and can reap equitable benefits from the global food system.

Some Pacific collaborative actions that can be highlighted in this context are found below. This includes four video shorts that provide a brief glimpse into Pacific food system components through the lens of communities in Tonga. These stories are a sample of the issues and solutions that people in the rural Pacific face from day-to-day.

Why Pacific food systems matter

The Pacific, the world’s largest ocean, plays a critical role in the global food system, for example providing a majority of the world’s tuna. However, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are still the leading cause of death in many Pacific countries, accounting for 60-75 percent of premature morbidity. As Pacific communities modernize, they also continue to use traditional and Indigenous knowledge to sustainably manage food from the land and ocean. While the region helps feed the world through traditional ties and agriculture and fishing methods, modern trends increasingly threaten its food systems at home.

These threats are intensifying due to climate change and unforeseen shocks, such as the recent COVID-19 pandemic. Investing in more equitable and nutritious food systems in the Pacific will help communities address NCDs, climate change and other shocks and to ensure a food system that is fair, forward-thinking and resilient – and will be able ot feed people and provide for their livelihoods and health for generations to come. Expansive Pacific food system outcomes will also contribute to better global diets beyond the region, providing sustenance and knowledge and advancing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

What do we need to do to advance Pacific food systems?

The Pacific is a large region with small and exceedingly diverse countries. Bringing these countries together for collaboration to solve the region’s food systems challenges is the first step. SPC and its partners have been hosting a series of Pacific-wide dialogues that look both to tradition and innovation in cultivating game-changing solutions for more resilient food systems.

The dialogues and related activities have suggested five action tracks in order to step forward: ensure access to safe and nutritious food for all, shift to sustainable consumption patterns, boost nature-positive production, advance equitable livelihoods and build resilience to vulnerabilities, shocks and stress. Taken together, these five actions will ensure Pacific food systems provide for Pacific peoples and beyond. This will take more than collaborative spirit – resources from both within and outside the region will need to be mobilized, along with applied knowledge that is adaptable to the Pacific context. The United Nations first Food Systems Summit, held in September 2021 is an opportunity advance the Pacific unique food systems ecosystem while also bringing world food conversations into the region to foster growth and innovation. Indigenous projects based on community and the replanting of lost traditions that provided for people for generations are already sprouting across the region. Supporting these endeavors are a vital key to the vitality of current and future food systems.

Blog Category
Video
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Division
Corporate
Land Resources Division (LRD)
Food Systems

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