Fiji has commenced a series of national dialogues on food systems ahead of the United Nations Food Systems Summit (UNFSS) taking place in September 2021.
The first national dialogue on Action Track 1 to “ensure safe and nutritious food for all” was held virtually on Monday 10 May, 2021 and marks the commencement of series of national dialogues across all five Action Tracks.
Officiating the online dialogue forum, Ministry of Agriculture Permanent Secretary, Mr Ritesh Dass addressed the forum. “In Fiji and the Pacific, the food we eat brings us together as families, communities and nations and links us back to the land and sea, where our food is traditionally sourced from,” he said.
He further stressed that food underpinned our cultures, our economies and our relationships with the natural world.
“Our involvement in the Summit has come at a crucial time as our country battles the COVID-19 pandemic once again. This makes this Food Systems Summit even more crucial to us as it will enable Fiji and the rest of the world to study the challenges exposed or exacerbated by the COVID crisis and to find transformative solutions to emerge and build back,” he further emphasised.  
Mr Dass said that given the COVID situation, it would be very likely that the remaining four national dialogues would be held virtually.
The Fiji national dialogues will consolidate diverse and transformative views and voices from stakeholders which would, feed into Fiji’s national report and submission to the UNFSS global Summit, being convened by UN Secretary-General António Guterres in September.
“Our national dialogues will enable Fiji to contribute to bold new actions to deliver progress on all 17 Sustainable Development Goals, each of which relies to some degree on healthier, more sustainable and equitable food systems,” he said.
Action Track 1 is aimed at working, at a global level, to end hunger and all forms of malnutrition and reduce the incidence of non-communicable disease, enabling all people to be nourished and healthy.
“This goal requires that all people at all times have access to sufficient quantities of affordable and safe food products.
“Achieving the goal means increasing the availability of nutritious food, making food more affordable and reducing inequalities in access to food.
“In essence, we are talking about ‘Food Security’ and this is pivotal given the challenges we face today, and the increasing nature of challenges we are likely to see going forward.”
An overwhelming and diverse group of 71 participants were part of the multi-stakeholder national dialogue from areas of science, business, policy, healthcare and academia, farmers, youth and women’s organisations, consumer groups and environmental activists.
The second national dialogue is being convened on Wednesday 12th May to discuss and come up with actions under Action Track 2, which is, ‘Shift to Sustainable Consumption Patterns’.