President of Ireland Michael D Higgins has called for a transformation of food systems worldwide in order to achieve sustainable development goals by 2030.

“Whether or not we transform these systems is the test of our authenticity, in the words we use while so many are dying of hunger,” he said, speaking at the online United Nations Food Systems Summit in New York.

Pushing for urgent action, he said that the world faces climate and biodiversity emergencies which threaten our very future on this planet.

“Ending world hunger and ensuring the right to food for all must be placed firmly at the top of the political agenda,” he insisted, calling for a “renewed moral consciousness” which would generate policies that would ensure that the needs of all can be met, and sustainably, including those of the 45m children under five years of age currently suffering from wasting.

“Eradicating poverty and ending hunger is one of the greatest moral and ethical challenges we face today, all the more so as it can be achieved,” the President said. “For this reason, Ireland is proud to support the Re-setting Wasting agenda, which forms part of the Summit’s Zero Hunger Coalition.”

Irish response

Referring to the Irish food system, he said Ireland is responding to the need for sustainable food systems through its new stakeholder-led Food Vision 2030 plan.

“That strategy was developed using a food systems approach which recognises the interconnections between food, health, environment and climate. The strategy rightfully sets the viability and resilience of our farmers and fishers as one of its primary missions,” the President said.

Food Vision sets an ambitious course for Ireland’s agri-food sector to become a world leader in sustainable food systems by 2030.

“I am particularly pleased to see the strategy’s strong commitment to protecting and preserving Ireland’s rich natural capital, including our soils.

“Our soils must be nurtured and protected. Farming and nature must reconnect. Prudent use of nutrients, coupled with greater use of crops that self-generate their nitrogen, must be the basis of sustainable food production, delivering both on biodiversity and on soil health,” he said.