Aiming for a permanent platform to promote partnership in food safety, security and sustainability – #WorldFoodForum

logo-worldfooforum  Aiming for a permanent platform to promote partnership and cooperation in food safety, security and sustainability

By Samuel Godefroy, Ph.D. – Professor, Food Risk Analysis and Regulatory Systems, Faculty of Agriculture and Food Sciences, University Laval, Québec, QC. Canada

Published earlier on: World Food Forum Website on August 19th, 2015

Access to clean water and clean air is a fundamental human right. Similarly, access to safe food is another necessity. Food safety is a condition for food availability and therefore for food security. Beyond the clear public health benefits expected as a result of compliance with food safety requirements, enhanced food safety is a prerequisite to consumer confidence and therefore to market access. Consumers around the world demand access to safe food and are increasingly aware of and sensitive to existing and emerging food safety risks.

Food and food products are also amongst the most traded commodities domestically and internationally. Safety and availability of food products is therefore a condition for and a demonstration of economic development and prosperity. Innovation in the food and agri-food sector, the development of trends aiming to enhance the sustainability of food production, to decrease its environmental impacts and its energy consumption requirements are also interrelated with food safety, food security, food quality and consumer concerns.

Having the 2015 Universal Exhibition currently hosted by the city of Milan, Italy, fully dedicated to the theme of Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life offers the unique opportunity for a platform of dialogue, exchange, and stronger leadership in identifying and analyzing trends and emerging issues, in sharing best practices and in promoting collaboration and partnership to address challenges in food safety, food security and sustainability and to support research and innovation in the food and agri-food sector.

The opportunity to hold a World Food Forum scheduled for September 22-23, part of Milan Expo 2015 is visionary in many respects. This platform offers to convene national and international food policy makers, food regulators, international and development organizations, food business leaders, the Finance, Science, Research and Innovation community, as well as representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs). It offers to become a permanent platform for dialogue amongst leaders of the food sector to promote partnerships and collaboration. For a number of actions that address food safety, food security and sustainability, the mobilization of all sectors (public, private, academia, NGOs) and the creation of partnership are key to success. In following the principle that dialogue is a prerequisite to multi-sectorial action in response to multi-faceted challenges, I am hopeful that this new Forum will:

  • enable and stimulate strategic engagement, policy discussions and dialogue on challenges and opportunities of the food sector, with a particular focus on sharing best practices and lessons learnt from partnership initiatives in food safety, food security and sustainability, as well as food research and innovation
  • promote leadership in the development of robust partnerships, concerted action and more investments to address challenges in food safety, security, sustainability and innovation.

Food is such an important determinant of human health and human prosperity that we owe it to ourselves to make this Forum a successful platform for such cooperation.

Looking forward to meet the Forum participants in Milan, at the World Food Forum inaugural meeting held in September 22-23, 2014.

Save the date for the #WorldFoodForum part of #EXPO2015 – 22-23 September 2015 Milan

Save the date for the launch of the World Food (Research and Innovation) Forum, a unique opportunity to engage with stakeholders representing academic, government, the food business community and international organizations on issues related to food safety, security and sustainability.
Creating a forum for dialogue, engagement and forward thinking:

Aiming for a safer, more abundant and sustainable food supply for all.

Great opportunity to work with colleagues from CCAFRICA at #CodexAlimentarius Colloquium

I had the opportunity to take part in the CCAFRICA Codex colloquium co-organised by the US Department of Agriculture, the US Codex office, the Coordination for CCAFRICA, the African Union and the Government of South Africa from March 18-20th, 2014. Delegates from over 15 countries of the region participated in the colloquium which aimed to enhance communication amongst member countries of the region to discuss key Codex files, challenges and agenda items for selected upcoming Codex committees. CCAFRICAI had the opportunity to contribute to the colloquium program through a keynote introduction outlining my views on key Codex strengths and accomplishments, as well as what I consider being our organisation’s upcoming challenges. I also contributed to a panel discussion, engaging the colloquium participants on these same topics with an emphasis on specific challenges relevant to the African region. Some of the points discussed included:

–  the duality of focus on food safety and food security in the African region and the contribution that Codex standards may bring to support food security in the continent ;

–  the level of development of Codex structures in CCAFRICA countries and its impacts on the effective participation in Codex standard development; –  the availability of data from the region, in response to calls for data from Codex scientific advisory bodies;

–  the impacts of private standards versus Codex standards

–  countries’ ability to adopt Codex standards and challenges related to dissemination of information related to Codex standards, guidelines and codes of practice to all food stakeholders in the region. Some of the recommendations brought forward by participants included the need:

–  to strengthen Codex national structures in countries of the region,

–  to enhance engagement of academic organisations from the region to support opportunities for data collection that reflect the regional/African countries’ context in response to calls for data that support Codex standard development and,

–  to continue enhancing awareness of the importance of Codex and Codex standards among the leadership of countries of the region

Participants had also the opportunity to engage in facilitated discussions on agenda items currently identified for some of the upcoming Codex committees: Codex Committee on General Principles (CCGP), Codex Committee on Contaminants in Food (CCCF) and Codex Committee on Pesticide Residues (CCPR). Delegates were able to exchange their views on these items with the purpose to help them prepare national positions

Meeting with Codex peers and colleagues from Kenya, Guinea, Tanzania, Uganda, Morocco and Senegal

Meeting with Codex peers and colleagues from Kenya, Guinea, Tanzania, Uganda, Morocco and Senegal

The colloquium provided me with an excellent opportunity to listen directly and learn from colleagues and peers from CCAFRICA countries about their concerns, challenges and areas of focus related to food safety and quality in general and specifically in the context Codex standard development. It was also an opportunity to engage on a bilateral level with delegates from Cameroon and the regional Coordinator for Africa, Senegal, Guinea, Morocco, Gabon, Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Mozambique and South Africa.

I reiterate my thanks and appreciation to the Colloquium organizers and in particular to our gracious South-African hosts for a remarkable organisation.