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EU, South Asia Experts Meet in Delhi to Discuss Strategies to Combat Global Food & Climate Crisis

The dialogue between the EU and five South Asian countries took place as part of an EU-funded workshop series supporting the EU's 'Farm to Fork' (F2F) Strategy, which is part of the wider 'Green Deal'.

Shivam Dwivedi
EU, South Asia Experts Meet in Delhi to Discuss Strategies to Combat Global Food & Climate Crisis
EU, South Asia Experts Meet in Delhi to Discuss Strategies to Combat Global Food & Climate Crisis

Stakeholders in India, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Nepal have raised similar concerns about agriculture and farming-related environmental degradation, as well as food security, proper nutrition, and food waste reduction. Everyone agreed that comprehensive and long-term solutions were essential.

The Pandemic, Ukraine crisis, and continued extreme weather conditions triggered by climate change have disrupted global food supply networks and communities worldwide, increasing the risk of food poverty and food-related health hazards such as hunger or obesity. Furthermore, present food production, transportation, and processing practises are major contributors to global warming, accounting for 21-37% of greenhouse gas emissions.

Opening the Workshop, Claire Bury -Deputy Director General for Food Sustainability Responsible for Directorates E, F and G, DG SANTE, EU Commission- stated that: “In Europe, our citizens continue to express their concerns about the climate and biodiversity loss. Their recommendations support the sustainability policies we are developing, and the cooperative work we want to develop with the South Asian countries set out the way forward.”

Dr Koen Van Dyck -Head of Unit A5 Bilateral International Relations, DG SANTE, EU Commission- emphasized that “we have to work together, exchange information and build alliances: the need for global action is clear.” Rightfully, “we must not leave this to future generations: Food systems are a complex concept and a much bigger challenge than the green revolution in the 1950s & 60s”, urged Dr Shahidur Rashid -Director for South Asia at IFPRI in India.

This workshop provided an opportunity for the EU and four Indian adjacent nations (Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Bangladesh) to exchange ideas on soil health and organic cultivation, sustainable pesticide and antimicrobial usage, and food loss and waste. “Promoting the shift towards healthy, sustainable diets has to be done through collaboration. The food system is everyone’s business” said Atul Upadhyay -President of Food Scientists and Technologists Association, Nepal.

Insisting on diversifying diets which can be a key driver in the change to sustainable food systems, Jamie Morrison -Senior Advisor Policy and External Relations, GAIN Bangladesh- asserted that “Data is key to identifying and prioritising actions.”

As a recommendation, “the system in Bhutan needs to transform from subsistence farming to a commercial system where rural income is improved and increased”, insisted Karma Tshering -Chief of Policy & Planning Division at the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, Bhutan. In Sri Lanka, the niche market of organic products should be developed not only for export, but also for the domestic market: “Organic farming is happening on a small scale and we encourage those who want to do it" says Malathy Parasuraman -Director General of the Department of Agriculture, Ministry of Agriculture in Sri Lanka.

Keeping in mind that the EU has proposed ambitious actions and commitments as part of its Green Deal to transform its food systems (the Farm to Fork Strategy) into global standards for competitive sustainability, the protection of human and planetary health, and the livelihoods of all actors in the food value chain, Cristina Laso Sanz, Deputy Head of Unit A5 (Bilateral International Relations) at EC DG SANTE, concluded the Workshop by reassuring that “we do not seek to impose the EU’s views and goals and the ways to achieve them; we want to build alliances. We are in this together.”

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