WTO and Sustainable Food Systems
“”Trade has contributed to make the pie bigger, but its shares have not been divided equally. Strengthening the multilateral trading system to make it more open, transparent and equitable could contribute to shared prosperity globally” ”. – Isabelle Durant, former Deputy Secretary-General of the UNCTAD (UNCTAD, 2019)
The multilateral trading system plays a vital role in achieving global food security, nutrition, and addressing the twin challenges of climate change and environmental sustainability. This importance has been further highlighted by the global Covid-19 pandemic and the ongoing climate crisis which raise food prices and leave the hungry even hungrier. Trade can improve food availability where it is scarce and improve access to food by creating jobs and raising incomes. More predictability will also improve stability, another key component of food security. The WTO multilateral trading system must continue to level the playing field in food trade and enable countries to raise their environmental, social, and other relevant food standards.
The issue of food security and sustainable food systems is high on the agenda of the WTO and part of the member’s ongoing negotiations on trade in agriculture. Progress on critical agricultural issues is needed to reinvigorate the trading system and ensure greater sustainability.
The Model WTO 2022 will build on these current developments and address issues particularly relevant in the context of sustainable food systems and food security. The negotiations will, among others, focus on the nexus of food sovereignty and food security, the environmental footprint of traded food, the sustainability of the food system and potential obstacles to trade in food.
See this year’s ‘Best Essay’ by Catarina Gaspar