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Great Food Reset: Fmr. UN climate chief Figueres urges ‘Changing what we eat is a radical act that will make us & nature healthier & happier’ – COVID ‘has taught us that rapid change is possible’

The Food Revolution Is Up to Us by Christiana Figueres – Project Syndicate



This year, the United Nations is convening a special gathering to “raise awareness and elevate public discussion” about how food-system reform can help us to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. But the world needs much more than a food-systems summit. It needs a food revolution.

With nature’s capacity to support human life having already reached a breaking point, changing what we put on our plates has become an urgent priority – one that will play a crucial role in determining the future living conditions on planet Earth.

Many people recognize that we are approaching dangerous climatic tipping points, and most – 82% across G20 countries – want change that protects nature. So, let’s show them what that would look like. This year’s Food Systems Summit is an opportunity to build momentum in some of the biggest priority areas of food-system reform. For example, we urgently need to make regenerative farming the dominant model globally. This form of agriculture relies on farming and grazing practices that nurture the soil, rather than killing it.

We know that we can move quickly as a global community when we need to. The pandemic has taught us that rapid change is possibleNow, we must bring the same urgency (and even more follow-through) to fixing our relationship with food and how we produce it.

Our food system is our most essential life-support mechanism. But we won’t be able to transform it in time if only a minority of us are even aware of the challenge.

This year’s summit is an opportunity to raise awareness. But it should be understood as only one step along the way. We can each take an additional step with every meal we share. Changing what we eat is a radical act that will make us and nature healthier and happier. By making nature-conscious eating choices and helping to spread the word, each of us can contribute to keeping planetary warming within the 1.5° Celsius limit laid out in the Paris agreement. A healthier plate makes for a safer planet.


Christiana Figueres, a founding partner of Global Optimism, is a co-author of the bestselling book The Future We Choose: The Stubborn Optimist’s Guide to the Climate Crisis, and a co-presenter of the Outrage + Optimism podcast. She was executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change from 2010-16, overseeing the landmark Paris agreement on climate change, adopted by 190 countries and the European Union.