Most countries in East Africa are currently experiencing food insecurity because of factors ranging from conflict and locust invasion to drought and insufficient rainfall. All these factors are linked to climate change. The desert locust plague in the last couple of years in the region, the worst of its kind in more than 70 years, was likely exacerbated by shifts in rainfall patterns and intensity. And while scientists generally agree that climate change does not directly cause armed conflict, it tends to increase the risk of conflict by exacerbating existing social, economic and environmental factors that lead to scarcity of natural resources such as water. Even in Rwanda where it is calm and has avoided the locusts, there are threats to contend with. We have been facing delays in rainfall onset and when rains end. This affects sectors such as agriculture, explains Aimable Gahigi, Director-General of the Rwanda Meteorological Agency. Covid-19 is another factor, which has slowed down agriculture activities locally and around the world. The Food Systems Summit during the UN General Assembly (UNGA 76) last week was a first of its kind, interlinking these related issues, including malnutrition, poverty, and inequality. “A well-functioning food system can help prevent conflict, protect the environment and provide health and livelihoods for all,” observes UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. Key to a functional system is a healthy planet of which, it turns out, food systems – from production to processing, transport and consumption – create one-third of greenhouse gases, contributing to climate change. This shows why the summit is crucial in a veritable case where the challenges presuppose their own effective solutions. But it was also about healthy eating. It is therefore worth noting it was held at the mid-point of the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition, which started in 2016. The Decade aims to achieve the global nutrition and diet-related non-communicable disease targets by 2025. The time of the meeting also coincides with the year of the Nutrition for Growth (N4G) Summit set for December. It speaks of a concerted global effort, all geared to advance the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Aligning with this, the summit last week was unique in that it aimed to deliver progress on all 17 of the SDGs through a food systems approach, leveraging the interconnectedness of the systems to global challenges cited above, including the Covid-19 pandemic. The time it took to prepare for it is an indication of the important role of food systems in the wellbeing of both the people and the planet. The summit was the culmination of an inclusive 18-month process that brought together all UN Member States and constituencies around the world, rallying around priority areas countries committed to, including with concrete submission of their national pathways. Countries in East Africa therefore have their role to play to mitigate factors threatening their food security, even if respite will not be immediate. But it must take the world as a whole, and particularly the mains culprits hugely contributing to climate change such as the United States and China to keep to their commitments. In the meantime, the World Bank Group, International Food Policy Research Institute and Food and Land Use Coalition laid out plans at the summit to unlock $4.5 trillion in business opportunities with fairer food systems. The US President Joe Biden had announced he would invest $10 billion to end hunger, while the Bill Gates Foundation has committed $900 million to end malnutrition across the globe For now, eyes now look to the 26th UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) at the end of next month in Glasgow, the United Kingdom. Held, annually, and bringing together 197 countries, the Conference of Parties, known as COP, monitors and reviews the implementation of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Among the goals for this year will be to mobilise finance, adapt to protect communities and natural habitats and ask countries to come forward with ambitious 2030 emissions reductions targets that align with reaching net zero by the middle of the century.