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Agriculture, General Nutrition, Hunger, Sustainability

U.S. Dairy’s Role in Global Food Systems Transformation

As the world grapples with converging pandemics – climate change, COVID-19, hunger and obesity – transformation to sustainable and healthy eating and production is a priority. The National Dairy Council (NDC) is accelerating bold, game-changing actions within our mission to help build a more inclusive and resilient global food system.

COVID-19 has revealed deep cracks across the food system and exacerbated social inequities and unrest. The resulting economic distress and supply chain disruptions could cause another 130 million people to fall into food insecurity. And, COVID-19 is impacting public health and nutrition in other troubling ways, such as a decline in nutritious food consumption.

NDC has stayed on top of this evolving situation and been a proactive part of the solution. The U.S. dairy community has joined other food systems stakeholders in emphasizing the need to work collectively and urgently, especially in light of how these pandemics disproportionately impact vulnerable populations. Using a systems-based approach, we believe we can, together, nourish people, communities and the planet through inclusive, resilient global food systems.

Fortunately, there are opportunities to answer the urgent call for collaboration – such as last month’s UN Food Systems Summit (the Summit) in New York. The Summit convened global stakeholders to deliver ambitious solutions and commitments on food systems transformation. NDC and our global dairy partners have participated in the Summit in various ways as part of our commitment to bold, collaborative work across food systems. NDC submitted “game changers” – or actions that can change the ways in which food systems operate as well as co-hosted an independent Food Systems Summit Dialogue to contribute to this vital effort. The findings from this dialogue were submitted as part of its official process.

As we address these timely and pressing issues, U.S. dairy foods and farms continue to make important contributions across health, social, environmental and economic domains of sustainability to advance the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Making progress against the SDGs will be closely linked to achieving transformation of our global food system to nourish people, communities and the planet. Dairy’s ongoing contributions include:

  • Providing 13 essential nutrients in dairy foods, including high-quality protein, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin B12 and other key micronutrients, helping to address nutrient gaps and malnutrition worldwide (UN SDG 2)
  • Innovating for greater efficiency in farming, reducing environmental impact, enhancing environmental stewardship and positively affecting economic sustainability (UN SDG 9, 12, 13, and 15)
  • Investing in local and rural communities by supporting 240 million jobs globally (UN SDG 8)
  • Supporting livelihoods by generating income 365 days per year, providing positive economic impact for farmers, processors and their communities (UN SDG 8)

The challenges we face across global food systems do not have one-size-fits all solutions waiting to be discovered – all stakeholders must be willing to work through difficult conversations and identify synergies and tradeoffs to improve food systems so that they meet cultural, geographical and individual preferences and needs. NDC will stay at the frontlines of this effort as an ongoing science-based resource.

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