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Wednesday’s Daily Brief: Soaring obesity rates, sustainable development funding alliance, new UN office to support Haiti

Obesity rates soar due to dramatic global diet shift, says UN food agency

Eating food high in starch, sugar, fats and salt; combined with a sedentary lifestyle, is a recipe for soaring global obesity rates, even in countries where many still suffer from hunger. On World Food Day, on Wednesday, the UN’s food agency, FAO, called for action to make healthy, sustainable diets affordable and accessible for all.

The shift away from seasonal, mainly plant-based and fibre-rich food has occurred in recent decades, as a result of globalization, urbanization and growth in income, says FAO, as busy consumers in urban areas find less time to cook at home, and rely increasingly on fast-food outlets, street food vendors and take-away meals.

As well as impacting health, the way that food is currently consumed and produced is having a significant effect on climate change. Mr. Guterres announced that he hopes to convene a major Food Systems Summit in 2021, as part of the Decade of Action to deliver the SDGs.

Here’s our full coverage.

Global cancer cases to reach 29 million by 2040 

The global cancer burden is expected to spiral from just over 18 million last year to 29 million by 2040, according to the latest edition of The Cancer Atlas, launched on Wednesday by a UN-backed agency that researches the disease. 

The atlas is an illustrated guide to the diversity of cancer which is a leading cause of premature death in every country in the world. 

It highlights global variations in the prevalence of key risk factors for cancer, as well as geographical variance in cancer occurrence, and how countries are taking action. 

For example: Although tobacco use remains the main causes of cancer in most high-income countries, legislations such as bans on smoking in public places are helping to protect around 1.5 billion people worldwide. 

Many of the known risk factors for cancer can be prevented, according to the authors.   

Besides tobacco use, these include infectious agents such as the human papillomavirus (HPV), unhealthy diet, excess body weight, physical inactivity and alcohol consumption. 

Business leaders join UN to rev up sustainable development investments

In a bid to scale up investment efforts to reach sustainable development targets, the Secretary-General on Wednesday convened the first meeting of a new UN-backed corporate alliance to discuss plans for spending on sustainability, likely to be in the trillions of dollars.  

The Global Investors for Sustainable Development Alliance (GISD), a UN-supported coalition of 30 business leaders, works to provide decisive leadership in mobilizing resources for sustainable development, with the core objective being to identify incentives for long-term sustainable investments. 

A few of the actionable solutions the alliance is expected to advance, include encouraging innovation in financial instruments, revisiting existing and new business models aligned with the 2030 Agenda, and addressing industry obstacles to long-term investment in sustainable development. 

Get the full story, here.

New UN office to help strengthen political stability in Haiti

A new UN political mission began work in Haiti on Wednesday, following the end of 15 years of peacekeeping in the country.

During that period, the UN helped the Haitian authorities to build up the national police force, strengthen the judicial system and improve the protection of human rights.

Jean-Pierre Lacroix, head of UN peacekeeping, explained why the situation in Haiti now requires a different approach from the international community.

“Today’s problems in Haiti are political but they also have to do with the development and the humanitarian situation in that country, and this is exactly what the UN is aiming to do with the new Integrated Office .”

The new office, known by the French acronym BINUH, will work to strengthen political stability and good governance in Haiti through support of an inclusive national dialogue.

NEWS FEATURE: Ingredients for a new life: how cooking helps refugees and migrants blend in

On a Friday afternoon, in a small restaurant kitchen in the New York borough of Brooklyn, head chef Alexander Harris is giving instructions to his attentive team, preparing them for the busy evening ahead. So far, the tables are empty, but the small, popular space, with just a handful of tables – and some stools around the bar – will soon be bustling with the evening crowd.

There is nothing unusual about this scene, except that this restaurant, a non-profit enterprise named Emma’s Torch, has a specific mission: to teach refugees, migrants and survivors of human trafficking, new culinary skills, so they can build a better life in the US.

New York’s vibrant food scene, with delicacies from all over the world freely available, owes a lot to its immigrant population. A recent blog post from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) features Omer Eltigani, a migrant and food writer, who explains: “people have migrated all over the world to be here right now, and have created this incredible city, with incredible diversity. New York is a testament to the positive story of migration, and of its goals and potential.”

Read our full feature here.

Listen to or download our audio News in Brief for 16 October on Soundcloud:


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