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Post-UN Food Systems Summit – building a common vision for Africa and Europe

The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation.

The COVID-19 pandemic made evident the fault lines in global supply chains. In this blog, Camilla Toulmin, Senior Fellow at Friends of Europe, calls for a true Africa-Europe partnership which has the potential to eliminate food insecurity, mitigate the effects of climate change and create decent work opportunities.

Below is an excerpt; read the full blog here

Strategic autonomy is a concept that has found itself at the top of the European Union’s agenda during the von der Leyen Commission, but the pandemic has driven home the need for regions all over the world to be able to produce key necessities themselves. For Africa, the focus has been on ensuring it can feed its growing population as borders closed, supply chains were disrupted and climate change took no break. The pandemic has shown the risks of being on the wrong side of ‘vaccine nationalism’ and the critical need to manufacture vaccines locally to increase healthcare resilience and autonomy on both continents. 

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has highlighted the increase in people facing hunger globally due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on global supply chains in particular. As communities around the world turned to greater mutual aid, especially those at the end of long global value chains, many large-scale producers were forced to dump food, even while many of the workers responsible for producing it were struggling to feed themselves. 

The fragility of many long European food supply chains, as well as high rates of food insecurity in some of the wealthiest economies on the continent, took many European governments by surprise and underlined the need for a global shift in food systems policymaking. Implementing shorter, more robust value chains is a core priority for ‘building forward better (and greener)’ and one of the most important steps for ending food insecurity, while increasing strategic autonomy in agri-food systems, particularly in Africa and Europe.

The Mo Ibrahim Foundation and Friends of Europe are co-founders of the Africa Europe Foundation, an initiative launched in 2020 to reset and bolster Africa-Europe relations focusing on five strategic areas including Agriculture and Energy.