Professor Tim Lang, Emeritus Professor of Food Policy, City University, has written to key decision makers at the UN Food Systems Summit, seeking a promise that human rights will make their way to the heart of the food system. Bridge Consumers Producers Gap
He proposes a framework that would lead to a consumer-facing label, addressing all the human rights the food system affects. Bridge Consumers Producers Gap
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Professor Lang first proposed the solution, called an Omnilabel, 20 years ago. An Omni-Framework, paving the way for such a label “would recognise the food system cannot ignore the challenge of complexity,” he writes.
“It is an opportunity to build coherence and consensus. It helps bridge the gap between consumers and producers. It gives something practical to work on in all countries post UN Food Systems Summit (FSS).
“Proposing an Omni-Framework, the UNFSS would be accelerating support for truly systemic thinking which links public health with human rights, the environment with the economy, food inequalities with technical innovation.
“If the UNFSS was to conclude by recognising the need for food systems to bring diverse challenges and interests together, it will have been a success.
“There is growing recognition of, and support for, the creation of one global unifying framework. Only the UN is able to step up into the leadership role to determine that framework. Across our coalition, all participants say ‘nobody benefits from disparate metrics’.”
The Omni-Framework is supported by diverse interests such as the World Business Council for Sustainable Development-led True Value of Food Coalition which includes the industry, NGO and policy experts across the WBCSD.
The World Benchmarking Alliance and Dutch Consumer organisation Questionmark are also backing the framework, along with 600 attendees from 23 countries at a UN pre-Food Systems Summit event, the 40-strong Consortium for Labelling for the Environment, Animal Welfare and Regenerative Farming (CLEAR), which includes Sustain, the Food Ethics Council, The Sustainable Soils Alliance, Sustainable Restaurant Association, Soil Association, RSPB, and Food, and Farming & Countryside Commission, Advance ESG, Foodsteps – already producing carbon labels for food businesses via a platform, founded by Cambridge University researchers, Orijin.io – an app already dedicated to granular data collection, transparency and fair payment in the cocoa supply chain, IRAdvocates – human rights lawyers who have demonstrated that corporate self-monitoring is failing to protect human rights in agrifood supply chain, Nourish Scotland, Legacy17, Earth Accounting and many others.
The promise sought reads:
“This Summit recommends the exploration of a multi-criteria framework to accelerate the right of consumers worldwide to engage in the sustainable development goal (SDG) impacts of the food system. Consumers have the right to know what lies behind and in their food. The new Framework should reflect the range of issues of concern to consumers in production, processing, transport, packaging, retail and end of life management. The data and technologies exist to share such information. The Framework will provide consensus about delivering the necessary change.
“This inaugural summit represents a unique opportunity to explore a framework that will create unifying and universal criteria to harmonise data capture metrics and methodologies throughout agrifood, supporting sustainable member state policy, investor relations, accounting, resource management, production, consumption and post-consumption.
“The SDG framework will reflect environmental impact, nutrition, food safety, labour rights, and land sovereignty, with a view to reducing hunger and malnutrition, protecting the environment, and respecting the rights of all.”