Press Releases

Oxfam reaction to IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report (WGI AR6)

9 August 2021

Responding to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Working Group I contribution to the Sixth Assessment Report (AR6), Oxfam Ireland said:

“Amid a world in parts burning, in parts drowning and in parts starving, the IPCC today tables the most compelling wake-up call yet for global industry to switch from oil, gas and coal to renewables. Governments must use law to compel this urgent change. Citizens must use their own political power and behaviours to push big polluting corporations and governments in the right direction. There is no Plan B.

“The world’s highest-level of political and scientific consensus, the IPCC, describes humanity’s slimmest chance to keep global warming to 1.5°C and avert planetary ruin. It sets the agenda for a make-or-break climate summit in Glasgow later this year. This report is yet more unimpeachable proof that climate change is happening now, and that global warming is already one of the most harmful drivers of worsening hunger and starvation, migration, poverty and inequality all over the world. 

“In recent years, with 1°C of global heating, there have been deadly cyclones in Asia and Central America, floods in Europe and the UK, huge locust swarms across Africa, and unprecedented heatwaves and wildfires across the US, Turkey, Greece and Australia ―all turbo-charged by climate change. Over the past 10 years, more people have been forced from their homes by extreme weather-related disasters than for any other single reason ―20 million a year, or one person every two seconds. The number of climate-related disasters has tripled in 30 years. Since 2000, the UN estimates that 1.23 million people have died and 4.2 billion have been affected by droughts, floods and wildfires. 

“The richest one percent of people in the world, approximately 63 million people, are responsible for more than twice as much carbon pollution as the 3.1 billion people who make up the poorest half of humanity. The people with money and power will be able to buy some protection against the effects of global warming for longer than people without those privileges and resources ―but not forever. No one is safe. This report is clear that we are at the stage now when self-preservation is either a collective process or a failed one. 

“Global warming is a base factor behind all of today’s huge regressions in human development. The main perpetrators of global warming ―that is, rich countries that have reaped massive wealth by burning fossil fuels― must be the ones to cut their emissions first, fastest and furthest. They must also pay their climate debt to developing countries by scaling up finance to help them adapt to the effects of climate change and transition to clean energy. Other major polluters don’t get a free pass and must also drastically cut emissions. The world has as much to gain in terms of human safety, development, opportunity and jobs by running a global economy on renewables, as it has to lose in continuing business-as-usual.

“Very few nations ―and none of the world’s wealthy nations― have submitted climate plans consistent with keeping warming below 2°C, let alone 1.5°C. If global emissions continue to increase, the 1.5°C threshold could be breached as early as the next decade. The IPCC report must spur governments to act together and build a fairer and greener global economy to ensure the world stays within 1.5°C of warming. They must cement this in Glasgow. Wealthy country governments must meet their $100 billion-a-year promise to help the poorest countries grapple with the climate crisis ―according to Oxfam, not only have they failed to deliver on their promise, but over-inflated reports of their contributions by as much as three times.”

ENDS

Contact 

Caroline Reid, Communications Manager, 087 912 3165

Notes to editors

Extreme weather-related disasters were the number one driver of internal displacement over the last decade, forcing more than 20 million people a year ―one person every two seconds― to leave their homes. For more information, download Oxfam’s briefing  Forced from Home.

According to the UN, a sharp rise in the number of droughts, floods and wildfires has claimed 1.23 million lives and affected 4.2 billion people since 2000.

The richest one percent were responsible for 15 percent of emissions added to the atmosphere between 1990 and 2015 ―more than all the citizens of the EU and more than twice that of the poorest half of humanity (7 percent). The richest 10 percent accounted for over half (52 percent) of emissions during this time. For more information, download Oxfam’s report Confronting Carbon Inequality.

Oxfam’s Climate Finance Shadow Report 2020 offers an assessment of progress towards the $100 billion goal. It considers how climate finance is being counted and spent, where it is going, how close we are to the $100 billion goal, and what lessons need to be learned for climate finance post-2020.

Oxfam recently reported that there has been a six-fold increase in people suffering famine-like conditions since pandemic began.

Oxfam supports a range of climate projects across the world and works with local communities most impacted by the climate crisis. For example, we are helping rural farming communities in Uganda and Zimbabwe build resilience against the effects of changing rainfall patterns, supporting Indigenous people and communities to defend their forest and land rights in the Amazon, restoring degraded lands through agroforestry in the Sahel and Bolivia, and helping rural farming communities in Timor-Leste earn a decent income


 

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‘Net zero’ carbon targets are dangerous distractions from the priority of cutting emissions says new Oxfam report

Tuesday 3rd August 2021

  • Achieving ‘net zero’ by 2050 with land use alone would require at least 1.6 billion hectares of new forests - that's five times the size of India 
  • Land-hungry ‘net zero’ schemes could force an 80 percent rise in global food prices while allowing rich nations and corporates to continue “dirty business-as-usual”  
  • Society-wide change required for Ireland to reach its 2030 ambition  

Using land alone to remove the world’s carbon emissions to achieve ‘net zero’ by 2050 would require at least 1.6 billion hectares of new forests, equivalent to five times the size of India or more than all the farmland on the planet, reveals a new Oxfam report today.

Oxfam’s report “Tightening the Net” says that too many governments and corporations are hiding behind unreliable, unproven and unrealistic ’carbon removal’ schemes in order to claim their 2050 climate change plans will be ‘net zero’. At the same time, they are failing to cut emissions quickly or deeply enough to avert catastrophic climate breakdown. Their sudden rush of ‘net zero’ promises are over-relying on vast swathes of land to plant trees in order to remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. 

To limit warming below 1.5°C and prevent irreversible damage from climate change, the world collectively should be on track to cut 2010 carbon emissions level by 45 percent by 2030, with the sharpest being made by the biggest emitters. Countries’ current plans to cut emissions will achieve only around one percent reduction in global emissions by 2030.

Jim Clarken, Chief Executive of Oxfam Ireland said: “The climate crisis is already devastating agriculture globally. It is driving worsening humanitarian crises, hunger, and migration. Poor and vulnerable people, particularly women farmers and Indigenous people, are being affected first and worst. 

“’Net zero’ should be based on ‘real zero’ targets that require drastic and genuine cuts in emissions, phasing out fossil fuels and investing in clean energy and supply chains. Instead, too many ‘net zero’ commitments provide a fig leaf for climate inaction. They are a dangerous gamble with our planet’s future.

“Nature and land-based carbon removal schemes are an important part of the mix of efforts needed to stop global emissions, but they must be pursued in a much more cautious way. Under current plans, there is simply not enough land in the world to realise them all. They could instead spark even more hunger, land grabs and human rights abuses, while polluters use them as an alibi to keep polluting.”

Oxfam recently reported that global food prices have risen by 40 percent in the past year, which has contributed to 20 million more people falling into catastrophic conditions of hunger and a six-fold increase in famine-like conditions. If used at scale, land-based carbon removal methods such as mass tree planting could see global food prices surging by 80 percent by 2050.

In the run-up to the Glasgow COP this year, more than 120 countries, including the world’s top three emitters ―the US, China and the EU― have pledged to reach ‘net-zero’ by mid-century. Most of these pledges are vague and not backed by measurable plans. 

Clarken continued: “‘Net-zero’ might sound like a good idea, but over-relying on planting trees and as-yet-unproven technology instead of genuinely shifting away from fossil fuelled-dependent economies is a dangerous folly. We will be hoodwinked by ‘net zero’ targets if all they amount to are smokescreens for dirty business-as-usual.

“Land is a finite and precious resource. It is what millions of small-scale farmers and Indigenous people around the world depend upon for their livelihoods.”

With less than 100 days left until the UN climate talks in Glasgow, governments and corporations need a much stronger focus on swiftly and deeply cutting carbon emissions in the near-term, starting at home and with their own operations and supply chains. If ‘net-zero’ targets are used, they should be measurable, transparent and prioritise dramatically slashing emissions by 2030. Removing emissions is not a substitute for cutting emissions, and these should be counted separately. 

"There are no magic fixes to reach ‘net zero’ and Ireland should not expect offsets in low and middle income countries to come to the rescue if we miss our emission targets. The society-wide change that is required for Ireland to reach its 2030 ambition and ‘net zero’ by no later than 2050 can only be achieved if it is fully supported by a broad supportive national policy framework, including our fiscal policies, sustainable finance, spatial policy, and the national and EU research ecosystem.

“Ireland’s pathway to ‘net zero’ will not affect all groups equally at the same time. Actions to support individuals and communities in undertaking the necessary changes are, therefore, important considerations for policy design in all sectors of the economy,” Clarken concluded.

END

Contact

Caroline Reid, Communications Manager, 087 912 3165

Notes to editors:

  • Download Oxfam’s report: “Tightening the Net.”
  • Download the summary report here.
  • According to the IPCC, large-scale afforestation could increase food prices by about 80 percent by 2050. This would push millions more people into hunger.  
  • The Amazon is the world’s largest tropical rainforest, spanning over 5.5 million square kilometres.
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Vaccine monopolies increasing cost of vaccinating the world against Covid

In a briefing note published today, the Global People’s Vaccine Alliance highlighted examples of how much both developing and wealthier nations have been potentially overpaying for Covid-19 vaccines. The analysis found that: 

  • The EU may have overpaid for their 1.96 billion Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines by as much as €31 billion  
  • Pfizer/ BioNTech are charging their lowest reported price of $6.75 to the African Union - nearly six times more than the estimated potential production cost of this vaccine  
  • Colombia, which has been badly affected by Covid, has been paying double the price paid by the US for Moderna vaccines 

The cost of vaccinating the world against Covid-19 could be at least five times cheaper if pharmaceutical companies weren’t profiteering from their monopolies on vaccines, campaigners from the Global People’s Vaccine Alliance campaign said today. 

New analysis by the Alliance shows that the firms Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna are charging governments as much as $41 billion above the estimated cost of production. The EU, for example, has potentially overpaid by as much as €31 billion for its 1.96 billion doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, in comparison to the estimated cost price. 

Jim Clarken, Chief Executive of Oxfam Ireland said: “Despite a rapid rise in Covid cases and deaths across the developing world, Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna have sold over 90 percent of their vaccines so far to rich countries, charging up to 24 times the potential cost of production. 

“Last week Pfizer/BioNTech did announce that it would licence a South African company to fill and package 100 million doses for use in Africa, but this is a drop in the ocean of need. Neither company has agreed to fully transfer vaccine technology and know-how with any capable producers in developing countries, a move that could increase global supply, drive down prices and save millions of lives.”

Analysis of production techniques for the leading mRNA type vaccines produced by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna – which had an injection of public funding to the tune of $8.3 billion - suggest these vaccines could be made for as little as $1.20 a dose. Yet COVAX, the scheme set up to help countries get access to Covid vaccines, has been paying, on average, nearly five times more. COVAX has also struggled to get enough doses and at the speed required, because of the inadequate supply and the fact that rich nations have pushed their way to the front of the queue by willingly paying excessive prices. 

While some rich countries have started to re-distribute a fraction of their excess doses and have made funding commitments, this charity is not enough to fix the global vaccine supply problems.  

Clarken went on to say: “Pharmaceutical companies are holding the world to ransom at a time of unprecedented global crisis. Because profits are being prioritised ahead of people, budgets that could be used for building more health facilities in low-income countries are instead being decimated by these all-powerful corporations as governments the world over try to vaccinate their citizens."

The Alliance says it is vital that vaccine manufacturers are forced to justify why their vaccines cost more, but open competition is also critical to bring down prices and increase supply. All vaccines, old and new, only come down in price once there are multiple competitors in the market. 

The People’s Vaccine Alliance, both here in Ireland and globally, is calling on all governments to insist that the vaccine technology is transferred – to enable all qualified manufacturers worldwide, especially those in developing countries, to produce these vaccines. Governments, should also urgently approve a waiver of intellectual property rules related to Covid-19 technologies as proposed by South Africa and India. 

The waiver, which is supported by over 100 nations including the US and France has been repeatedly blocked by the European Union, including Ireland, and the UK.

Maaza Seyoum, from the African Alliance and People’s Vaccine Alliance Africa, said: “What possible reason then do the governments of the EU have to ignore the repeated calls from developing countries to break the vaccine monopolies that could drive up production while driving down price? 

“Enabling developing country manufacturers to produce vaccines is the fastest and surest way to ramp up supply and dramatically drive down prices. When this was done for HIV treatment, we saw prices drop by up to 99 percent.”

Never in history have governments been buying more doses of vaccines for one disease and the large-scale production should drive down costs, enabling companies to charge lower prices. Yet the EU reportedly paid even higher prices for its second order from Pfizer/BioNTech. 

Dramatic price escalation is predicted to continue in the absence of government action and with the possibility of booster shots being required for years to come. The CEO of Pfizer has suggested potential future prices of as much as $148 per dose - 148 times more than the potential cost of production. And because pharmaceutical companies anticipate charging such high prices for boosters, they will continue to sell doses to rich countries at the expense of protecting lives globally.  

Clarken concluded: "As Ireland reaches the milestone of nearly 70 percent of its citizen being fully vaccinated, less than one percent of people in low-income countries have received a vaccine, while the profits made by the companies has seen the CEOs become billionaires. 

“This vaccine inequity crisis is being facilitated by governments, including Ireland's, who continue to block the means to resolve this issue. I cannot emphasise enough the need for the Irish government to reconsider their position on the TRIPS waiver and call on them to meet with Members of the People’s Vaccine Alliance Ireland as a matter of urgency.”  

END


Contact
Caroline Reid, Communications Manager,  087 912 3165 

Notes to editors: 

  • Download the briefing note: The Great Vaccine Robbery
  • Further examples of how much both developing and wealthier nations have been potentially overpaying: 
  1. The highest reported price paid for Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines waspaid byIsraelat $28 a dose -nearly 24 times the potential production cost.
  2. Moderna has charged countries between 4 and 13 times the potential cost price of the vaccine and reportedly offered South Africa a price between $30-42 a dose -nearly 15 times higher than the potential production cost.
  3. Senegal, a lower-income nation, said it paid around $4 million for 200,000 doses for Sinopharm vaccines, which equates to around $20 a dose.
  4. The UK alone has potentially paid £1.8 billion more than the cost of production for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines –enough money to pay every worker in its National Health Service a bonus of more than £1000.
  • Due to lack of transparency of pharmaceutical companies, the exact cost of research and development and manufacturing of vaccines are unknown. Estimates used in this release are based on studies of mRNA production techniques, carried out by Public Citizen with engineers at Imperial College. Their analysis suggests that it could cost $9.4bn to produce 8bn doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine - $1.18 per vaccine and for Moderna it would cost $22.8bn to produce 8bn doses - $2.85 per vaccine: https://www.citizen.org/article/how-to-make-enough-vaccine-for-the-world...
  • The figure that companies have been charging up to 24 times the potential cost of production is based on the reported information that is available. The highest reported cost paid was by Israel. For many countries there is no available data on how much they have paid for these vaccines.
  • Pfizer forecasts sales of $26 billion in revenue for 1.6 billion vaccine doses, therefore at an average cost per dose of $16.25 (against a potential cost price of $1.18 per dose). Moderna forecasts sales of between 800 million and 1 billion doses, therefore at an average cost of between $19.20 and $24 per dose (against a potential cost price of $2.85 per dose). The total combined forecasted sales income equates to $41 billion above the potential cost of production. 
  • Colombia is reported to have paid $12 per dose for 10 million doses of Pfizer/BioNTech and $29.50 per dose for 10 million doses of Moderna. A potential overspend of $375 million.  
  • Vaccine Billionaires data available here: https://www.oxfam.org/en/press-releases/covid-vaccines-create-9-new-bill...
  • Pfizer/ BioNTech and Moderna have received $8.25 billion dollars in public support for their vaccines between them - $5.75 billion for Moderna and $2.5 billion for Pfizer/BioNTech. This includes public funding and guaranteed government pre-orders. https://www.oxfamamerica.org/explore/research-publications/shot-recovery/ 
  • COVAX has reported that for its first 1.3 billion doses it paid an average price of $5.20 a dose. Given available reported prices for the vaccines in COVAX’s portfolio it is reasonable to assume COVAX paid less than $5.20 for the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine (reducing the average dose price), and likely paid more for the Pfizer/BioNTech (increasing the average dose price). The schemes’ lack of transparency prohibits proper scrutiny. 
  • Gavi reports COVAX will achieve 23 per cent coverage in AMC populations by end of 2021: https://www.gavi.org/sites/default/files/covid/covax/COVAX%20Supply%20Fo...
  • Competition drove down first-line regimen HIV medication prices by 99 percent over a 10 year period, from $10,000 to as low as $67 per patient per year: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3078828/#B67 
  • Analysis by the People’s Vaccine Alliance has found that just 0.28 per cent of the people in Low Income Countries have received at least a single dose, based on a combined population of  775,710,612, and data from Our World in Data which shows that as of Sunday 2,155,657 had been vaccinated with at least a single dose.  
  • UNICEF procures existing vaccines on behalf on many low- and middle-income countries. According to analysis in the Lancet they pay a median of 0.80 cents a dose for all vaccines https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(21)00306-8/fulltext 
  • The Chinese Sinopharm vaccine is being sold for up to $40 a dose (making it 50 x more expensive than $0.80): https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(21)00306-8/fulltext#sec1 
  • The UK is reported to have paid £15 a dose for the Pfizer vaccine and has ordered 100 million doses. For Moderna they are reported to have paid £25 per dose and have ordered 17 million doses. If these two vaccines were produced at the production price estimated by Public Citizen the UK would have saved £1.8 billion, enough to pay every NHS worker a bonus of £1,012 (based on the NHS having 1.5million members of staff in England, 140,000 in Scotland, 78,000 in Wales and 64,000 in Northern Ireland).  
     
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Reactive: Famine Review Committee - Ethiopia

Media Reactive

For immediate release

In response to the new report by the IPC Famine Review Committee, Jim Clarken, Chief Executive of Oxfam Ireland said:

“The IPC report by independent food security experts today confirms our fears, that now 400,000 people are experiencing catastrophic hunger in Tigray, Ethiopia. The report’s projections for the future are even more grim, making predictions that there is a high risk of famine.

“Farmers should have been planting the crops they rely on to eat and sell, but many had to flee their lands, and others who stayed couldn’t plant because they couldn’t access their fields or didn’t have seeds. This comes even after the unilateral ceasefire, which was not observed as expected. Those who can get to markets are struggling to buy essential goods, as food and materials can’t cross into the conflict zones. This will only deepen and prolong this cycle of hunger and the need for aid. People who have been forced from their homes do not have enough food, clean water, or access to sanitation - and the spread of disease is on top of malnutrition is an additional major threat.

“This comes at a time when Oxfam and other humanitarians are struggling to reach those in urgent need and after a number of humanitarians have already been attacked and killed. Just this week, an aid convoy carrying materials for the UN and Oxfam was attacked by unknown forces and movement of humanitarian aid has been put on hold as a result.

“There is a true catastrophe unfolding before our eyes. The people of Ethiopia are doing all they can to support themselves and each other to survive, but need access to vital resources like food, clean water, safe shelter, and cash, and to be able to return to farming and feel hopeful they can harvest their crops in peace. Oxfam calls on all parties to respect international law, to protect civilians and ensure they are able to access humanitarian aid in safety.”

END
 

Contact
Caroline Reid, Communications Manager, caroline.reid@oxfam.org

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New report assesses Ireland’s role in creating sustainable and fair global food systems

  • More supports needed for Irish farmers to transition to sustainable agriculture approaches 
  • Out of sync: Ireland’s trade objectives and sustainable development objectives 
  • Ireland must invest and transform to meet sustainable food system ambition - warn Oxfam and Trócaire
  • Globally: Farming communities reliant on strengthening food security and resilience to climate shocks

21 July 2021

Today, aid agencies Trócaire and Oxfam Ireland release a major new report assessing the Irish government’s ambition to become a champion of fair and sustainable food systems on the global stage. 

The report is published in advance of the UN Food Systems Summit pre-meetings in Rome next week and follows the release of the SOFI 2021 report, The State of Food Insecurity and Nutrition in the World, which highlights rising global food insecurity and the urgency of delivering on the right to adequate food for all in sustainable ways.

The organisations are advocating for sustainable transformations that support small-scale food producers around the world. These context-specific transformations should protect everyone’s right to food, while sustaining the natural resources upon which agriculture relies.

Whilst acknowledging Ireland’s strong commitment to addressing hunger and malnutrition, the report found that Ireland’s ODA support for food and nutrition security needs to be more clearly directed toward agroecological initiatives, with only a minority of current ODA spending directed toward sustainable agriculture projects. 

Jim Clarken, Chief Executive of Oxfam Ireland said: “Because of the climate and biodiversity emergencies, land use competition, and conflict there is a critical need for agriculture and food system transformation to prevent already at-risk communities falling into deeper peril. 

“Increasing the proportion of ODA spending used to support sustainable agriculture initiatives can move us in the right direction and ensure the communities Oxfam and Trócaire work with have a supportive enabling environment to help them to adapt and make their livelihoods climate resilient.”

The report also found that policy decisions emphasise Irish agri-food trade objectives to the detriment of sustainable development goals. This was found to be especially true in terms of subsidised Irish milk powder exports to West Africa, with the report stating that relationships with African countries should bolster local markets rather than putting them at risk. West African government officials, small-scale dairy owners and livestock farmers argue that powdered imports are nutritionally inferior and environmentally damaging, and are undermining local markets and dairy production.

Both Oxfam and Trócaire work in countries and contexts where agriculture and food are the main sources of income generation and employment. In addition, these small-scale farms quite often account for most of the food consumed within households and wider local communities, making their futures reliant on building their food security and strengthening their resilience to climate and other shocks.  

Caoimhe de Barra, CEO of Trócaire said: “A transformation is needed whereby food policies are centred on human rights, social equity, women’s empowerment, economic security and prosperity, environmental regeneration and resilience building to climate change and other shocks. We're calling on Ireland to ensure its leadership on sustainable food systems includes all of these elements.” 

A recent survey of 350 influential food and agriculture companies found that half do not disclose targets or report on progress to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while over a third do not sufficiently acknowledge their responsibility to ensure the human rights of workers in their supply chain - nor do they demonstrate any intention of improving the livelihoods of smallholder farmers.  The report calls for binding legislation to ensure the agri-food sector is fulfilling its human rights and environmental obligations throughout its value chain.

Closer to home

Alongside its international analysis the report addresses domestic changes that need to take effect in Ireland. It recommends the establishment of a national sustainable food systems body that provides space for the voices of all stakeholders – including the most marginalised in Irish society – to be heard and integrated into decision-making. The report also found that narratives claiming that Ireland’s food is ‘produced sustainably’ or that the Irish food industry has made great progress towards ‘driving sustainable food production’ are difficult to validate when assessing agri-environmental indicators and recommends the use of appropriate sustainability metrics to measure progress on the transition to sustainable food production.

Sinead Mowlds, researcher and author of the Sustainable Food Systems report said: “Ireland has a real opportunity to forge a new direction in implementing a sustainable food systems approach if it is willing to address current shortcomings and make necessary adjustments. 

“For example, the report reveals that Irish farmers are not adequately supported to transition to more sustainable methods and approaches.  At present only 11 percent of funding in Ireland is directed toward projects that support ‘principally’ sustainable agriculture. This is compounded by the fact that, in some cases, farmers are penalised for their efforts to support biodiversity. 

The report calls for the scaling up of programmes with clear environmental and social sustainability objectives, as well as investment in rural economies and measures to increase the production of fresh, nutritious, and local produce.

END

Contact

Caroline Reid, Communications Manager with Oxfam: caroline.reid@oxfam.org | 087 912 3165

David O’Hare, Head of Communications with Trócaire: david.OHare@trocaire.org | +44 7900053884   

Notes 

  • Read the Summary and Recommendations report here.
  • Read the full reort here
  • Spokespeople from Oxfam Ireland and Trócaire are available for interview. 
  • Report author, Sinead Mowlds, is also available for interview. Sinead is an independent consultant, Research Affiliate to the Cambridge Central Asia Forum, and M&E expert with the Natural Resource Institute at Greenwich University. Since 2007, her research has focused on sustainable development and food and nutrition security for rural and marginalised people. During that time, she’s worked with international organisations, think tanks, the private sector, and NGOS, including UN agencies, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The Brookings Institution, the European Commission, and the OECD. Her research aims to understand how complexity sciences can be applied to policies relating to food systems and climate justice. She holds a BSc in International Development & Food Policy from the University College of Cork, and a MPhil in Development Studies from University of Cambridge. 
  • This report is being released a week before UNFSS the pre-summit meeting. The UNFSS was initially characterised as a ‘People’s Summit’ which would address solutions and contain diverse dialogue on topics ranging from nutrition, sustainability, equitable livelihoods, and resilience. However, in the lead up to the summit, concerns about the approaches being taken by the UNFSS have been expressed by civil society, especially those representing small-holders in the Global South and indigenous peoples. In 2020, over 300 civil society organisations signed a joint letter over shared concerns around the lack of human rights approaches and legitimacy and the lack of inclusiveness in preparations for the UNFSS. Since then, the Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples’ Mechanism (CSM) of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS), the largest international space of civil society organisations (CSOs) working to eradicate food insecurity and malnutrition, have voiced their concerns over the proposed operation of the UNFSS and put forward proposals for how these concerns could be addressed.  These include a proposal that the UNFSS should have an explicit aim to “reverse the corporate capture of food systems, an additional action track should be established, as part of the formal summit process, to focus on the transformation of corporate food systems. 

Stats 

  • At global level, agriculture, forestry and other land usage accounts for 23 percent of all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Add in other emissions from the food chain, from farm to consumer, and the estimate rises towards 34 percent.   
  • In Europe, the agricultural sector accounts for 10.3 percent of GHG emissions. Irish agriculture contributes more than 30 percent of the country’s national GHG emissions. This figure does not include the emissions related to land use and land use change generated by imports of commodities such as soy and beef.   
  • We know that about 9 percent of the world’s population is undernourished to various degrees, while another 39 percent of adults globally were overweight in 2016, and 13 percent were obese.  
  • According to the FAO 3.5 percent of the Irish population, or 171,000 people are severely food insecure while a Safefood study from 2018 found that 1 in 10 Irish households were in food poverty. According to latest WHO figures 25 percent of the Irish population or 1.22m people are obese (2016). This is an increase from 16 percent in 2000.  

For a food system to be sustainable, it needs to generate positive value across all three dimensions of sustainability: economic, social, and environmental. The FAO (2018) elaborates on this:  

  • On the economic dimension, a food system is considered sustainable if the activities conducted by each food system actor or support service provider are commercially or fiscally viable. The activities should generate benefits, or economic value-added, for all categories of stakeholders: wages for workers, taxes for governments, profits for enterprises, and food supply improvements for consumers.  
  • On the social dimension, a food system is considered sustainable when there is equity in the distribution of the economic value-added, taking into account vulnerable groups categorised by gender, age, race etc. Of fundamental importance, food system activities need to contribute to the advancement of important socio-cultural outcomes, such as nutrition and health, with respect for local and indigenous peoples’ traditions, labour conditions, and animal welfare.  
  • On the environmental dimension, sustainability is determined by ensuring that the impacts of food system activities on the surrounding natural environment are neutral or positive, taking into consideration biodiversity, water, soil, animal and plant health, the carbon footprint, the water footprint, food loss and waste, and toxicity  
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