Given the recent situation of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Philippines right now reaching crisis proportions, the livelihood of many Filipinos have been greatly impacted. One of the effects of the loss of incomes and restrictions in mobility for many families in the country has been an increase in the proportion of those who are malnourished. According to the Social Weather Stations, the proportion of households that have experienced hunger rose from 12.8 percent in December 2019 to 21.7 percent in November 2020.
Given this context, last April 16, an Independent Dialogue entitled “Independent Dialogue for the UN Food Systems Summit 2021: Pathways to Sustainable Food and Nutrition, Consumption and Livelihood” for the Philippines leg was conducted tackling the United Nations Action Track framing it in the lens of food sustainability (The link to this can be found here: You Tube). This is in preparation for the United Nations Food Summit happening in September 2021. This was organized by the Ateneo de Manila University, the Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan and the Sustainable Development Solutions Network Philippines (SDSN PH) in order to stimulate dialogues and conversations on possible solutions to the current issue with the goal of reaching the targets of the SDGs.
Five resource speakers were invited to share their thoughts and expertise related to sustainable food production and nutrition, consumption and in advancing equitable livelihood amid the climate change and the COVID 19 pandemic crises. The speakers were: Dr. Cielito E. Habito, senior fellow at the Ateneo Center for Economic Research and Development; Dr. Roehlano M. Briones, senior fellow at the Philippine Institute for Development Studies; Dr. Maria Assunta C. Cuyengkeng, chair of the leadership council at the SDSN PH; Dr. Larry N. Digal, chancellor of the University of the Philippines Mindanao; and Fr. Pedro Walpole SJ, research director at the Environmental Science for Social Change. Dr. Habito, an economics professor at the Ateneo de Manila University, was also a main convenor.
These speakers talked about the overview the situation in the Philippines, delving into how important the role of the agriculture sector is in the nation’s economy and how it can be strengthened given the context of the pandemic. In order to do so, there is a need to look at the issue in a systemic sort of way when rethinking how consumption—and by extension, production can be more sustainable. Realizing that small-scale farming operations are interconnected with mass production can help us reframe how we consume food as a country, therefore building equitable livelihoods and possible resilience to vulnerabilities in food production and consumption while maintaining the population’s health and well-being.
The forum being a community dialogue aims not only to open the people’s eyes to the current problems of food security and sustainability, but it also aims to further stimulate meetings in small groups to discuss the pathways towards sustainable food supplies. After all, discussions on potential initiatives and solutions are of equal importance as determining and understand the problem. This independent Dialogue is the first of many and strives to encourage people to continue having dialogues and discourse on important issues with great impact.
We invite you to join our Facebook group, “Food Systems Community Dialogues”, in the spirit of continuous learning and reflection.
Posted 16 June 2021